We live in exciting but volatile times as new careers and occupations are coming up every day, and old ones are dying out silently. The most sought after careers today are professions like genetic counselling, cryptography, urban planning and data analysis but no one is shedding a tear for dying or dead professions like mortgage brokers, bookkeepers, middle managers.
Yet, most of our graduates are stuck learning by rote from decades-old curricula that doesn’t help them gain the critical skills the new economy needs. Over 80% of India’s engineers are not employable, as per a recent report from industry body NASSCOM. Statistics from other organisations put the numbers even higher. Technology majors have built entire campuses to ‘re-train’ new graduate hires. These companies hire a significant but yet small number of engineers, but what about the lion’s share?
This yawning academia-industry gap has led to a cottage industry of home tutors, tutoring institutions and other trainers who train graduates to ace various industry interviews and entrance tests. However, even after landing a coveted job, the spectre of not having the right skills to build a satisfying and profitable career path haunts professionals. The gap persists and hurts our population and by extension our country.
How is one to succeed in this volatile environment? What kinds of skills does industry really need? What skills are appropriate for a person’s aptitude and interests? Once these skills are identified, how does one go about selecting the right teacher or course to gain these skills? Lakhs of students, professionals and job aspirants are searching for answers to these vital questions across the country.
Here are some ways job aspirants can go about acquiring the right skills and charting out their career map:
Identify your aptitudes: Ask yourself what you enjoyed doing by looking back on your formative years. What classes did you particularly enjoy or excel in during those years? Perhaps the drafting and drawing sessions engrossed you during your engineering years. Or, despite being an MBA, you are drawn towards photography as a passion. Once you know what you want to excel in, the times are such that it is possible to draw out the artist in the engineer or the photographer in the MBA, and for them to thrive.
Chart your career path: Being a photographer no longer means clicking passport pictures in the neighbourhood studio. Travel photography, industrial photography, photojournalism, forensic photography or fashion photography are paths that are wide open for you. Your photography skills can be the foundation to launch exciting careers in graphic design or digital media. Figure out what you are good at and how you can leverage that to launch a successful career. Chart out a career map so that you can confidently respond to
queries of where you see yourself in five years.
Know industry demands: Once you know that there are jobs out there in your chosen field, you can prioritise what specific courses can lead to better-paying jobs and finesse your map accordingly.
Find the right teachers: With technology-aided communication and learning, the world is your oyster. You are not restricted to your college or neighbourhood to find the right trainer or course. Online searches can yield results pointing to exciting courses by trainers in your city or elsewhere. With the advent of e-learning, you can learn the art of winemaking from the best trainers in Champagne, France or study moviemaking with auteurs from Hollywood.
Optimise your search: It is important to go about the search for the right courses and trainers in a structured manner. Random searching on the internet can be frustrating, even nightmarish, leading to hours of frustration and confusion. Use the proper keywords and search on authoritative portals.
Never stop learning: Just as Rome was not built in a day, a satisfying career takes years, if not decades to build. The important precept for professionals is to understand that you can never stop learning. Upskilling yourself constantly is the mantra that you should live by.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that a modern-day professional will have 11 different jobs during his or her career. So there is never time to rest on your laurels. The ‘5 hour Rule’ that successful people such as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg swear by mandates that you spend five hours a week on deliberate learning: reading, reflection and
experimentation that you churn back into your profession or into your plans for the future.
This VUCA (volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous) world we live in demands new ways of learning, unlearning and relearning for professionals to thrive.
A platform that understands the users’ background, their career aspirations, aptitudes and current skill levels and provides them with useful information on the skills they can acquire to fill vacancies in the industry is valuable. The technology that can chart out a career path for the learner based on this skill acquisition will be a great enabler in his or her successful professional journey.
(The writer is with GetMeACourse)