Career planning has always been a problem in India with most parents pushing their children to go for an engineering or medical career. A recent report noted that 95% of Indian students selected their class 11 stream without even understanding what career options can be availed from each stream.
This uninformed choice affects students further on in life as well - while 33% of students in college are unhappy about the courses they opted for, nearly 30% of working professionals are unhappy with their current job roles/profiles.
Despite the host of new fields and new career options now coming into play, parents and students as well know very little about them.
We got talking to Muralidhar Ponnaluri, the CEO of Educational Rating and Assessment (ERA) Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working towards providing skills and career counselling to underprivileged students in rural schools in India, to know more about what parents and students can do towards this goal.
How parents can help in career planning during lockdown
Parents need to maintain a routine of normalcy for children, says Muralidhar Ponnaluri.
"Try and get them to make a schedule that is as normal to a regular day. As far as career planning goes, use the time provided by lockdown to jointly research with your child the career opportunities," he says.
He lists the steps for parents to help their children with career planning during lockdown:
1. Short list professions
2. Identify courses that need to be taken up for this profession
3. Identify colleges that meet provide these courses
4. Gather entrance and eligibility details for these courses
5. Study material for these courses
6. Take up online study material
7. Take professional career counselling help
Parents can use the lockdown time usefully to research online and shortlist career options as mentioned above.
"If worked on it meticulously, a well-researched career plan will emerge," says Muralidhar Ponnaluri.
He notes however that parental pressure has been the biggest influencer in a child seeking a particular profession.
"Often this diktat is not based on any proper or scientific evaluation of the child s aptitude, interest, subject knowledge, and capabilities," he adds.
Muralidhar Ponnaluri gives examples of how kids who had been pushed into engineering after getting 45% in class 8-9 in maths or kids who are forced to join design school after never having picked up a paintbrush were bound to fail.
"Change of course midterm has been observed in almost all professional courses," he notes.
How teachers can help in career planning during lockdown
Both parents and teachers have a crucial role to play to make students understand about their career options.
Muralidhar Ponnaluri says teachers should stay in touch with students to drive away any sense of boredom during lockdown. They can use the conferencing tools available now to share inputs with students.
Why is career planning so important now?
Skill gap and unemployment issues, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in upheavals in the job industry. Muralidhar Ponnaluri explains two reasons why career planning is critical right now.
"Firstly, it is important to match one's interest and aptitude with the choice of profession. Lot many times peer pressure causes children to take up a profession where there is zero aptitude. This results in severe tension, stress and subsequent drop-outs from the courses," he says.
"Skill is one shortfall in the Indian education system. A lot of graduates in all streams are not equipped with the right skills needed for an industry job. So, career planning becomes very important while choosing a course that imparts industry-ready skills," he says.
Need to look out for work-from-home career opportunities
Since this unprecedented lockdown is now giving rise to a necessity to work from home, students also need to plan for work-from-home job options.
"Certain professions are more amenable to a distributed workforce: meaning that work continues irrespective of where the individual is," says Muralidhar Ponnaluri.
He explains that in the last decade, companies have become more accepting of remote working, software industries being the biggest example.
"However, the virtual workplace is possible only when the IT ecosystem is very well established. While connectivity is a prerequisite, other requirements like security, virtual conference rooms, and chat rooms are a must. It also takes a culture of self-discipline to make remote working possible," he says.
He says that high flying companies like IBM, Wipro, TCS, and Cognizant have made remote working a normal aspect at work. He also notes that online learning could become a major trend as schools and colleges have taken up online classes during the Covid-19 lockdown.
"Remote working, however, will not need any specific training. Once a student picks a profession, the job will dictate whether remote work is possible or not," he adds.
Which career options are not suitable for work-from-home jobs?
Every kind of job option is not suitable for work-from-home options - students need to keep that in mind considering the difficult times we are in now.
The Coronavirus pandemic raging the world is putting a serious strain on jobs that cannot be done from home as various countries have initiated lockdown procedures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
At such a time, it is important to also consider career options which can be done from home as well.
"A driverless car will make the driver redundant. Drone delivery will make delivery boys redundant. Robotic surgeries may enable surgeons to work remotely. However, in the current scenario physical presence is unavoidable at the workplace," he says.
This is because many of the jobs popular now do not have the correct infrastructure for work-from-home options.
Other ways of career planning during lockdown
Students can also look up various mobile apps and websites that allow them to take quizzes.
Muralidhar Ponnaluri speaks of career selection tests such as MARG - a 2.5-hour online test for class 10 students that would generate a 15-page report with their strengths and weaknesses, and three vocational career option suggestions.
In such career selection tests, students are usually tested for their academic capability, aptitude, personality and interests.
Source: India Today