At this point in their education, your child’s mind is most likely preoccupied with passing their final school year – the final and arguably most daunting year of their school careers. That said, matric learners do need to start considering what they plan to do after they finish school and, more often than not, they need guidance in this endeavour.
From the time children are first able to speak, they are consistently asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. As is only natural, the answer (or answers) to this question will change throughout a child’s life as they develop new interests, find their strengths and skills they are particularly good at, and – as they hit their mid-teens – choose their school subjects.
How learners should decide on their career path
Identify your child’s interests, skills and strengths: these are the factors that will arguably be most helpful in identifying potential career paths. A child who is particularly good at physical sciences, for example, will excel in a STEM career like engineering but might fail miserably in a career like journalism.
Find a mentor: if your child appears particularly interested in a specific field, it might be worthwhile finding a mentor for them who works in this field. In this way, your child can get first-hand experience of that career, and this can help them decide whether it is actually right for them. Think of this as a type of ‘job shadowing’. Additionally, encourage your child to do holiday work or internships – if they have the time – to help them explore their options.
Consider all fields: many parents tend to think of only careers like medicine, law and accountancy to be worthwhile or feasible – this is most certainly not the case. Encourage your child to research all sorts of careers across multiple industries, from marketing to plumbing, from teaching to carpentry. It is important to remember that not all children are cut out for university careers, and even if they excel academically, their interests may not lie in pursuing careers that require years of academic study. Push passion, not prestige.
Most importantly, do not force your child into a career you have, or would have liked to have – treating your child as an extension of yourself is a sure-fire way of setting them up for failure.
Why it’s helpful to do a career test
In addition to the above, it is often useful for learners to do a career test. Career tests are designed to understand how a person’s skills, preferences, and aptitude will influence their chances of succeeding and finding satisfaction in any given field or industry. Even if your child is very aware of their own interests and capabilities, career tests are a helpful way of seeing which careers align with them. Conversely, career tests can also help learners discover whether they are actually suited to careers in which they are interested.
One such test is Career Compass. It is an online questionnaire that takes about 40 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is based on Dr John L. Holland’s scientifically proven personality theory and is designed to help learners identify careers which are suitable to their abilities and interests. Career Compass gives learners:
- Career options suited to their personality
- Personalised and instant results
- Career insights
To take the test, register online.
The future workplace
Another factor to take into consideration when helping your child decide what they want to do after completing school is that the workplace is constantly changing. It no longer resembles, even remotely, the workplace you grew up with and entered at your children’s age.
The workplace is continually changing at a rate most of us can’t even imagine. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 (in only ten years’ time) don’t even exist yet, according to a report from The Institute for the Future (IFTF) in partnership with Dell Technologies. Further, it’s estimated that today’s employees will change careers between five and seven times during their lives, and it’s thought that 30% of the workforce (almost one third!) will now change careers or jobs every 12 months.
Consequently, parents must bear in mind that whatever their child decides to do upon finishing school might not be what they end up doing in 5, 10, or 20 years’ time. Parents must be ready to accommodate this during their child’s post-school pursuits, whether that be studying a degree at a university, learning a trade at a technikon, or anything else!
by Jacqui Smit