Choosing a right career can be a daunting task for anyone, even for brightest of bright individuals, and to make the situation more intimidating newer opportunities are coming up every day. We live in era of development where everything is fluid, society is evolving, business is growing, individual’s aspirations are rising, and older social belief systems are giving way to a newer one. In the midst of this highly dynamic situation, a young person needs to choose a stable career. The decision will never be easy I guess!
So the question is what we can do about it? How can we help the young to choose his / her career? These are big questions to answer and matter of scientific research. Research in west and in the Indian subcontinent has revealed that career choice and development is a complex process and it is the individual who needs to take the lead. In Indian context, choosing a profession is not an individual’s sole decision and is highly influenced by a number of factors like, the individual’s education, socioeconomic status, self-efficacy, individual’s potentials, career beliefs, social beliefs, gender biases and influences from significant others etc.
Career by its nature is a lifelong process, where individual indulges in a number of jobs throughout his lifespan, so what we need today is “Career education” which can empower youngsters by building competencies for decisions. Any of the counseling and guidance process will fail to address its purpose if it doesn’t include this vital aspect.
This education is of particular importance in Indian context, as in our education system a youngster is supposed to start making occupational choices at a tender age of 14-15 years, when he finishes his 10th standard. This is the age where the adolescent is still struggling with his own identity and going through the one of the toughest time in the development cycle. In the west the situation is different where youngsters start making their occupation choices around the age of 17-18 years, by now he/she is more matured.
Such education not only prepares individual to make livelihood decision, but also help in career development and its progression. Studies have shown that individuals undergone this education is more likely to succeed in their preferred choice, have a better chance of getting employment and become preferred employees of the employer.
Discovery of self, knowing the world of work, how to generate the alternative and how to create a road map to realize their dream are the imperative aspects of comprehensive education and counseling program. Merely obtaining information about different vocation, professions or jobs (unfortunately nowadays are almost synonymous to career counseling) are of no use if it is not backed up with other aspects of career development; in fact it does greater harm, a study by “The Promise Foundation” showed a significant decrease in “career preparation status” and increase in confusion in individuals who were only exposed to such information sessions. Psychological testing is an important feature in any such counselling process; however extensive use of imported psychological testing without standardizing and norming for Indian context is a serious concern.
What is needed today is comprehensive, culturally and socially relevant career education & guidance which can build the self-efficacy for career decisions and development.