Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Will Future Generations View and Plan Their Careers?

The world is changing fast. It wasn’t that long ago that lifetime employment was a genuine reality for many; sons following in their father’s footsteps. This may not have been the most lucrative career, but you were pretty certain that you would have a job for life; and during this same period interest rates encouraged people to save for retirement, where you could actually get a reasonable return on a basic savings account. But in the early 21st century neither are on the short-term radar for the future – so what does this mean for future generations and what advice should parents be giving their children.
Just getting a solid education these days puts a youngster in debt right from the start – often with no guarantee of a job; and this is in first world countries like the US and the UK. Universities have become businesses looking to make short term profit, rather than institutions trying to match ‘local’ and ‘global’ manpower needs in different disciplines.
At the same time too many large organisations are abusing basic corporate governance requirements to make that extra buck for their shareholders. The recent scandal of VW cheating on the calculating and reporting of data on their vehicle emissions; quickly followed by Mitsubishi is another example of corporate greed; which seems to have become the rule rather than the exception. A further case in point being the banking sector; where we now see banks around the world cutting staff in the thousands after operating some shady deals prior to and during the financial crisis.  
So how and what should we teach the next generation to be street smart when it comes to their career planning?
There’s nothing wrong with a college or university education if (1) you know what you are getting yourself into from a financial perspective and (2) the subject and institution you choose will give you a ‘step-up’ onto the job and career ladder. Only kids from wealthy families can consider just doing a degree for the ‘fun of it’ in the future; and even in this case it’s pretty irresponsible of the wealthy parents to encourage it.
So what to do? There’s a strong agreement these days for becoming skilled in either a profession or a trade. But if you decide to go through the university route without a guarantee of employment afterwards, it’s worth having a solid ‘plan b’ in place that you can fall back on.
In fact with employment no longer being guaranteed it’s worth every young person having a ‘plan b’ career up their sleeves, where they know that they can always earn some form of a living regardless of what’s happening in the business world around them.
First, future generations should try to get as much ‘business’ exposure as possible during their school years – taking on holiday jobs, in both the profit and non-profit sector. It doesn’t matter if this is hard, manual labour or basic ‘station fill’ jobs – what it does is makes the kid aware of what work is like and all about. Where they learn as much from the job as they do from the peers they are working with.
Second, parents should encourage future generations to learn a trade that they can either focus on as a career; or as their ‘plan b’ to fall back on if and when they need too. This could be learning a trade in areas such as plumbing; electrical repairs/installation; construction; brick/stone masonry; carpentry; welding; etc. Having a fall back ‘skill’ will give you that confidence and assurance that you’ll always be able to earn some kind of living should you ever find yourself struggling to find employment and this is very smart thinking in today’s world.
Thirdly, become qualified in a hobby or sport that you love - this could be by becoming qualified as a personal trainer; or a coach in your favourite sport; a diving, skiing or surfing instructor – there are so many areas where you can combine a fall back qualification with something you love. You may not earn a fortune if you have to fall back on this as your main income stream – but at least you’ll be earning something while you hunt for that dream job. It also has a positive psychological effect on the individual, at a time when it’s easy for the job loss and subsequent job search to have a negative impact on ones wellbeing.
Finally if you have a love for languages then become fluent in one (or more) and you’ll always be able to act as a translator or a language teacher if your career suddenly suffers.
I’m not sure who’s teaching today’s younger generation how to plan to survive going forward in their lives. In some elements of communities around the world there seems to be an entitlement mentality – where some of today’s youth feel it’s their governments responsibility to give them a job – and not just any job, but a job they actually enjoy – and if the government can’t do that, then they should provide them with some form of social welfare so they can live without any really worry. This hypothesis is doomed to failure and sadly those that suffer are the youth. Is it all their fault – I’m not convinced it is. They see and read about ‘fat cat’ business men and politicians ripping off the very people they are supposed to be supporting – and probably feel that life is unfair and that they should be given a break too.
Sadly victim mentalities aren’t what the world needs to grow and prosper. ‘We’ have a lot of work to do going forward into the future – not just creating jobs, but ensuring there is access to enough water etc, as the population continue to grow across the world. So what the world is experiencing now is just the tip of the iceberg in respect of what the future holds.
In fact we knew 50 years ago that technology would make some jobs redundant or less human intensive – and yet there doesn’t seem to have been any real, clever forward manpower planning to strategize about how we create enough work for first world, let alone third world, populations – where citizens can at least earn a living wage.
Until we have politicians and top business leaders who can think beyond the moment – we need to encourage and teach our youth basic survival skills in the current global economy. As until there is real change it will not just be survival of the fittest but survival of the smartest – and with that in mind everyone should have a fall back ‘plan b’ career that they can fall back on and earn some money – should they find themselves without a job.