Growing career opportunities

Career counselling in J&K needs special, not run of the mill approach
Growing career opportunities
"Human asset, which is measured as human capital & linked to the future wages, is the most valuable asset at young age and is considered the best protection against inflation." [Representational Image] Pxhere [Creative Commons]

In my profession focus on asset-liability management is of prime importance. Any mismatch in the asset-liability component is simply an indication of a disaster, if not corrected immediately. The situation is grave when assets turnout liabilities. It derails our focus on progress and growth.

For all the assets to grow, it’s the human asset which assumes significance. Precisely, this most important intangible asset is the basis of all other assets.

Human asset, which is measured as human capital & linked to the future wages, is the most valuable asset at young age and is considered the best protection against inflation.

The monetary and time-consuming investments that one makes early in life, like obtaining a higher education, on-the-job training and learning better social skills, makes one’s personal human capital more valuable.

Let me come to the basic point. In our childhood each one of us has faced a question of what to do for a living. During our times one common answer was either to be an Engineer or a Doctor! Other choices like teacher, journalist, professor etc., were hardly looked upon as career choices. But the scenario has changed today.

There are endless career choices, ranging from engineering to business management, medicine to mass communication, etc. It is here that with the varied range of career choices available, our student community is in grip of confusion.

There is a vast section of our student community who blindly tread a career path because their friends are doing the same or their parents told them to do so. The growing number of career choices has even confused parents while choosing a field of study that really suits the interests or skills of their wards.

They waste money on pursuing courses that don’t match their abilities, interests, and even personality.

With the growing landscape of career opportunities, career counselling has assumed more significance. In a broader sense, there is now a never-seen-before dire need to guide youth in choosing their careers to carve out a decent living.

In fact, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has lent a huge support to the concept of career counselling with a massive change in the role of a career counsellor.

In other words, with the change in the academic structure rolled out through the NEP 20202, there is going to be a change not only in the role of a career counsellor, but the guidance techniques are also going to witness major changes.

Remarkably, NEP 2020, called by education experts as an education training strategy for the 21st century to promote universal access to education, aims to achieve 100% literacy in India.

It’s here the role of professional career counsellors comes into play to guide students and parents with the right information at the right time. Precisely, the role of a career counsellor holds the key to seeing the right person at the right place, when it comes to choosing a career.

Let me talk specifically about the concept of career counselling in the context of our own region (J&K). Though we have been witnessing some kind of efforts to professionalise career counselling, there are huge gaps in the system where majority of the main stakeholders, the students, continue to remain out of its ambit, wittingly or unwittingly.

In the first instance, the students, generally speaking our youth, don’t consider career counselling as a guiding force to shape up their career development.

Secondly, the culture of professional career counselling in our geography is yet to develop, though we see a good number of self-styled career counsellors in the private sector dotting major towns and cities facilitating admissions in various courses.

Ironically, these so-called counselors are ‘experts’ in placing an MBBS graduate in the hotel industry as a supervisor or an engineering graduate as a nursing orderly in any hospital abroad! Thirdly, such facilities, whatever is available in government educational institutions, are not functioning fully in tandem with the given scenario.

The existence of such counselling cells seems more as a formality than a serious effort to help the students in their career development. For example, we don’t see any such serious campaign where students/ youth are lured to visit the career counsellors for guidance.

Frankly speaking, most of our students or youth have no concept of career counselling. It’s either their own heartbeat for a particular career choice or their parents’ will which pedals their career development. In actual terms, career development is shaped in direct consonance with factors such as interests, abilities, values, personality, background and circumstances.

We cannot ignore the impact of geography in which students or youth are brought up while guiding them to pick a particular career choice. The rules guiding the career counselling in the rest of the country or world are not necessarily suitable here (J&K).

We are living in a geography which has a unique history of political as well as socio-economic turmoils occurring at frequent intervals. So, in the given circumstances around us, it’s imperative for any career counselling initiative to understand the main stakeholder, the students/youth.

A Kashmiri youth has its own history of woes brought to him by the political and socio-economic upheavals. If we look at the past, we find Kashmiri youth’s past pitiable, present pathetic and future uncertain, notwithstanding the fact that now the government has been continuously working out plans to streamline the journey of Kashmiri youth to peace and prosperity. So, in this backdrop, understanding the Kashmiri youth is precursor to any career development programme.

The circumstances demand professional career counselors to offer tailor-made guidance which would not only help the students/ youth to make the decisions they need to make now, but also to impart the knowledge and skills to make them future-ready in their career and life decisions.

Why do we need career counselors, when parents, family or friends can do the job? More often parents, family or friends can provide incorrect guidance, because their parameters of judging a career choice might differ. A professional counselor is objective while giving guidance, with no considerations other than aptitude and interest.

It has been observed that teenagers who participate in career counseling sessions benefit the most. Besides learning which careers they are most suited for, they also learn which jobs pay the most.

Society as a whole benefits when people are happy in their careers. Career counseling can benefit our economy as well. Those who are happy with their jobs are less likely to become unemployed.

To sum up, students should be encouraged to pursue education with a reason and develop a direction where they see a light at the end of the tunnel. For this career development programmes for youngsters need to be introduced on a large scale with professional career counsellors handling the job.

A beginning can be made by observing career days in schools and colleges. We must have personal coaches in the field of career development so that they offer a very essential service to people who are late planners of their careers. Let professionals’ services be utilized to introduce the students to various career pathways.

This will help the students to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and also to explore where their values and interests lie. This will go a long way in fighting the menace of unemployment.

(The views are of the author & not the Institution he works for)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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