In this changing world, how can we help young people find their career futures?
Is the response you get when asking a young person what they want to do after graduation, “I’m not sure…”? This seems to be the norm, with research showing that 70% of young people today do not have a clear vision of their career future.
Today’s young people face several dilemmas—an increase in options due to a global economy, increased pace of change, as well as alternate realities on social media. Largely accorded to the advances in technology, the scope of jobs are uncertain with 85 million jobs to go in the next 5 years but 97 million more to come, according to a 2020 report released by the World Economic Forum.
As a youth worker or parent guiding a youth, you might be thinking: how do I help?
The following SOAR framework* might be helpful in guiding our young people clarify their Strengths, Options, Aspirations and Reality check.
One of the best pieces of advice I received, was to pray and ask God for insights into a child’s strengths. While interest inventories have a place (e.g. MOE Skillsportal Site), chance events as simple as diving deeper into conversation t could provide young people the best opportunities for self-discovery. As adults or mentors in their lives, you can pose honest, open questions, rather than directive statements, to help them discover inner truth, skills, gifts and values and “make meaning” of their experiences.
Through observing young adults who found their paths, educators found two key ingredients for thriving in life—a compelling purpose and supportive relationships. “A purpose” is defined by Stanford University Professor William Damon as a “deeper reason for the immediate goals and motives that drive most daily behaviour”.
Take advantage of opportunities such as holiday gatherings to open a dialogue with your young people. “Why does this matter to you? Why are you doing it?” Practice the art of asking good questions and listening for their answers with an open mind. You may want to adopt a 10-2-2 rule, e.g. 10 minutes, 2 questions, 2 affirmations.
Convey your own sense of purpose and the meaning you derive from your work. In my case, conversations around current affairs at the dinner table with my Dad helped prepare me, an Economics graduate, for my first job interview with the Foreign Service.
In the last twenty years, a field of social learning “Planned Happenstance” has emerged in career counselling to help clients reframe career indecisiveness. To shift from “what if nothing interests me?” to being open to possibilities and picking up skills to seize those opportunities.
Instead of assuming a pre-planned job pathway of being a doctor/lawyer/accountant, parents could start introducing your children to potential mentoring conversations among friends, relatives and church or cell group about the work they do.
+How did those opportunities happen?
+What skills do I need to develop to get there?
+Brainstorm on opportunities in church or community to develop skills and meet people.
+What are some careers in the Bible or at a different point in history? How different are they from the ones today?
+If they are playing a computer game, “Would it be nice for you if you had a career in this field?”
<h6> Source: Microsoft 365 Stock Images <h6>
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In November 2019, I was invited to facilitate a CRU workshop for March 2020, on helping youths find their purpose. Unfortunately, Covid 19 hit, and we pivoted to transferring the workshop via Zoom. In November 2020, the CRU communications executive who attended the session, invited me to write a thoughtleadership article for the 2020 Thanksgiving report.
The article above was first printed in the CRU 2020 Thanksgiving report.