Today MyRate reviews what career advice we should give to our kids.
The world is a changed place. It is a cliché for sure, and no doubt in every generation a similar view would have been taken when looking back on how things “used to be”. But it really is different this time – really it is!
This point was driven home the other day. Whilst at a friend’s BBQ, I asked about 10 people there what they did for a living. I got varied responses from Quantity surveyor to accountant, and then a smattering of general commerce type roles. I then pushed a little harder to find out, day-to-day, what do they “actually” do. All except one of them spend their day in front of a computer screen. That is it – their contribution to society is to spend their working day in front of a computer.
No one fixed cars (well, one guy was a mechanic but in order to make my point, I will pretend he wasn’t there…), farmed, repaired shoes, built something, or did anything that had a tangible result you could see and touch at the end of the day. More so, at least 3 of the 10 people had been retrenched at some point within the last 4 years and had still found it difficult to secure employment. In fact, all but 2 of the 10 felt they had real job security and most of them did not enjoy what they did for a living. What a sad state of affairs!
This got me thinking. These were all tertiary educated individuals. When they decided to embark on their chosen careers, they did so on the “understanding” that education will see them through any tough times ahead. Their parents pushed this message as most of them did not have tertiary educated parents and as such, they had felt that their lives may have been different if his was not the case, ie, education leads to more opportunities. Further, most of them chose occupations based on what they were interested in. The guys that loved technology became computer geeks, the guys that loved commerce studied accounting, etc.
This was the common parental advice given out 20 years ago – get educated in a field you are interested in. Then the GFC hit and the world changed. Everyone lost all their money, thousands of jobs disappeared, and many of the skill sets held by many tertiary educated individuals, are no longer required by employees. Sure, this may change once again, but I think there was something fundamentally wrong with the financial system that broke it.
Now, I am not suggesting that education is a bad thing. By no means – education remains key to opening additional opportunities… but education no longer guarantees job certainty. In fact, the most job-secure members of our society now days seem to be those educated in a specific trade, ie, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc. These are people with a real skill. They can spend their day “actually” doing something tangible…. you can see the output of their effort.
So what does all this mean? Well, I’m not sure exactly. One thing I do know is that when my kids ask me what they should do when they are older, I will not be so quick to say “well, you love technology so go study engineering”, or some such thing. Rather, I think I will try to guess what jobs might have longevity and provide good income and stability over the coming decades (crystal ball gazing at its best!). And then, I would perhaps advise that even if that is something they are not interested in, it is perhaps something they should consider. Because the reality is that the majority of the population do not enjoy what they do every day, but if it provides security and you can earn a good living from it, then you will be able to pursue the things that really interest you in your spare time…
Bad advice? Perhaps. Practical advice? Perhaps.