Career planning and development is in essence a lifelong process that in effect starts from the day when we are born. Right from our birth, our likes and dislikes, choices, abilities, upbringing, attitude, background and circumstances influence the type of career that we ultimately choose for ourselves. Career planning is a lifelong, continuous and an ongoing process of self-awareness, self-discovery and self-accomplishment of one’s goals and ambitions. It can help us make the right choices not just for our career but also for our life. Role of the career planning centre is to shape our future, change our outlook on life as well as our insights and ability to progress and succeed in life. Career development encompasses far more than just deciding what kind of job one wants to do. It is a perpetual process of making career choices and goes on persistently for the whole life, in some selective cases even beyond one’s age of superannuation. Main goal and objective of career planning and counselling is to equip our youth with the skills, understanding, abilities and knowledge that they need to make important decisions and choices throughout their life. Right kind of career counselling helps one realize one’s full potential as well as one’s true self and enables one to attain the highest level of psychological development, where personal potential is fully realized after basic bodily needs have been fulfilled and this process of transformation of the state of one’s mind has been described by the psychologists as “self-actualization”.
Kurt Goldstein, a physician specialist in neuroanatomy and psychiatry in the early twentieth century conceived self-actualization as the ultimate goal of all living organisms and observed all kinds of behaviours and drives as manifestations of this overarching motivation. American psychologist Abraham Maslow placed self-actualization at the pinnacle of hierarchy of all human needs that include physiological needs like food, followed by safety needs and the need for love and esteem. As per Maslow, only after these needs are met can an individual begin to be motivated by the need for self-actualization. Characteristic feature of the self-actualized people is that they accept who they are despite their flaws and limitations and they possess an inherent drive to be creative and innovative in all aspects of their lives. Appropriate career counselling and planning strategies help our students advance upon a hierarchy of competence, through four main levels viz., from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to the level of unconscious competence. Fully comprehending this stages-of-learning model can help a student understand and identify his present status, predict his future progress and figure out what he should be focusing on in his learning at the any point of time in his career. According to “The Dreyfus Model” put forth by Stuart E Dreyfus and Hubert E Dreyfus in 1980 that identifies five stages of skill acquisition and helps learners gain deep insights into assessing where they stand, a sustained process of deep learning, career planning and counselling takes students through five stages of development viz., from ‘novice’ to an ‘advanced beginner’ and steers him gradually through ‘competence’ and ‘proficiency’ towards the penultimate destination of ‘expertise’.
Career counselling and planning primarily includes activities related to proper placement of students passing out from an educational institution in public and private sector companies and organizations, their career development and psychological counselling, comprehensive coaching for state, national and international level competitive examinations, capacity building in terms of soft skills like computer and IT literacy, language and communication skills, personality and professional development, enhancement of their motivation level and efficiency besides an overall upgradation of their aptitude, skills, competencies, knowledge, understanding, proficiency and positive mental attitudes. While it is the job of the parent department to train their pass-outs in the basic skills required for their area of expertise or specialization and prepare them for job markets as well as knowledge industry, onus of assisting them in enhancing their add-on skills like communication and presentation skills, helping them realize their full potential, explore their career choices and determine their placement priorities lies with the centre for career planning and counselling of their respective educational institute. Success and effectiveness of any higher educational institution is ultimately counted and considered by the placement percentage of its pass-outs apart from the accolades won and achievements made by them at the national and international level. Therefore, maximum thrust needs to be given to the placement of pass-outs in the corporate world by such centres.
Career Counselling and Planning Centre (CCPC) of the University of Kashmir is one such centre that was established in 2004 and has since then been actively involved with career counselling, planning, placements, coaching for competitive examinations, hand-holding and guidance of students. Centre has been striving hard to achieve its vision of attaining the status of a recognized centre of excellence for career education, coaching, training & placements, nurturing, grooming and guiding youth in their transformation as professional leaders to serve the society in diverse capacities. In pursuit of this mission, it has been organizing training workshops, job fairs and recruitment drives from time to time in order to help prepare students for their placement and support them in their careers. Besides the Centre has been providing classroom and distance learning coaching for various competitive examinations like IAS/KAS/NEET/JEE/UGC/NET/JRF/CMAT etc. The Centre has also been actively engaged in creating awareness amongst youth by organizing webinars, seminars, arranging motivational speeches of eminent public personnel and social activists for their overall personality and leadership development. Over the years Centre has facilitated recruitment of a large number of our youth by reputed companies like TCS, AMUL, HDFC, Grameen Bank, Yes Bank, Airtel Vodafone, Infosys Technologies, NIMS Dubai etc. With a view to strengthen the structure of career counselling, the Centre has recently come up with a network of Career Counsellors drawn from each programme being offered by the University of Kashmir. Each department/centre of the University has nominated one career counsellor for each programme that it offers.
In due course of time, CCPC of the University of Kashmir needs to evolve as a par excellence centre of quality education and high-end research on career counselling, planning and development. While so far its primary focus has been on offering coaching for various competitive examinations, it also needs to offer different types of certificate, diploma and degree courses on career counselling and planning to suit the needs of different categories of learners like UG and PG students, working professionals, wannabe career counsellors and placement officers, college and university teachers etc, wherein they shall be provided an insight and understanding of different aspects of career development as well as the role of the career counsellors. Such courses have to be designed to teach various theories and techniques of career development and decision making, different sources of career information and methods of career counselling, assessment and programme planning. Trainees of these courses should not only get an opportunity to practice various career counselling techniques but following their professional training they should be in a position to make suitable career interventions at an appropriate time in an ethically and legally compatible manner while adopting contemporary trends and applications of career counselling models to a variety of different settings and special populations. As per conservative estimates there is an immediate need of around 15 lakh career counsellors in India at present whereas hardly 10,000 are available and very few higher educational institutions are offering such courses to the aspirants of this course.
In future CCPC contemplates to approach top notch corporates of the private sector in India for conducting campus recruitment drives at KU at regular intervals and engage our enterprising youth in their corporate affairs, train all its Career Counsellors and get them certified by reputed career counselling institutions in career counselling of students so that subsequently a career counselling cell could be created in each department/centre of the University. Centre also envisages to train its career counsellors professionally in career counselling who could effectively and proficiently deliver back at their respective departments and centres. CCPC also seeks to offer comprehensive coaching of the best quality for competitive examinations so that a sizeable number of its trainees qualify civil services and other competitive examinations like IAS, NEET, JEE, NET, JRF, GRE, GATE etc. It will also be our endeavour to create appropriate communication channels for the students through which they could be constantly kept informed about fully funded scholarships, fellowships, placement and career opportunities for higher education both within and outside the country so that a large number of them pursue higher education at institutions of international repute without any financial burden and seek the best possible education at best institutions of the world. Centre for Career Planning and Counselling, University of Kashmir can also contribute significantly towards engagement and active participation of the students in various exchange programmes, seminars/workshops/conferences, entrepreneurship and skill development activities, exposure tours, internships, sports and other competitions besides innovative start-ups and industry visits. Centre will leave no stone unturned in capacity-building of the youth and their preparedness for rapidly evolving dynamic marketplaces of the world.
(Author is Director, Centre for Career Planning and Counselling, University of Kashmir)