How to choose a rewarding career

Cydney is a year away from graduating from Baldwin High School in Long Island, New York, but having decided she wants a career in digital media, she’s already spent time at two companies and talked to a mentor to help her get there. his goal

“His message was to put yourself out there: opportunities won’t just come to you,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to ask or fail.”

It’s one of the school’s multiple “career academies,” which provide guidance and connect students with relevant workplaces.

The aim is to motivate and engage students, giving them projects that will help them increase their chances of working in the future.

And it is necessary because there is a huge gap in knowledge, expectations and skills between millions of young people and the employers who want to work for them.

Graphics: Workplace-changing capabilities

Scroll down to see some charts that highlight how the demand for different skills is changing

For students, information about careers and what they actually involve is scarce and incomplete. Meanwhile, their aspirations may be limited by their contacts, information and local opportunities.

Often, their teachers have little professional experience outside of education; and the knowledge of family members can be close, shaped in a very different time. Vocational services are underfunded, underfunded, or nonexistent.

As for employers, they have complained for decades that new hires are not “ready for work” and that they leave school or university without the necessary qualities. Beyond basic numeracy and literacy, this often means interpersonal and so-called “soft” skills.

So this Guide to the World of Work, along with a free online event, is designed to help students choose subjects to study, extracurricular activities and continue full-time education, enter the workforce or combine or combine both with training. learnings

As part of the free FT schools programme, the report offers advice on how to make applications stand out; perspectives on different employment sectors; and tips for students to prepare for their first job.

World of Work: a free online event for students

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Join us on Monday 27 March from 14:00-15:30 BST at a digital event hosted by FT Schools, offering more practical advice and live Q&A on skills development and career planning. It will also be possible to watch the sessions on demand.

Register your free place here

The range of jobs available and the ways to get them vary widely between countries and regions, and between students of different backgrounds and talents.

Nancy Matimu, managing director for entertainment company MultiChoice in Kenya, says: “We see two sets of students: those from wealthy families – the few who have the luxury of taking a gap year, with plenty of options to choose which courses to take – and the rest, who live in poverty and want to get into work as soon as possible. who have.”

But, as in other parts of the world, he pointed to high demand for digital skills and an increasing openness by employers to recruitment based on talent rather than connections, with students doing research to find the best courses and hires. networks “How you present yourself, your attitude, how you communicate – impressions count,” added Matimu.

The good news is that there are more and more career resources available in general.

The modern workplace has also become more open and dynamic; skills count as much as mere academic subjects or performance; and “jobs for life” have been replaced by flexibilities, so no decision needs to be final.

Oli de Botton, head of the UK’s Careers and Enterprise Company, says: “It’s important that young people have a safe destination but are path agnostic. There are some fantastic skill-based tracks. Consider experiences as well as academic results. And remember that careers last a lifetime and change over time. The goal is to find a place where you can succeed.’

With that in mind, here are eight tips for success in life outside of school:

  1. Do your research. There is a mismatch between expectations and requirements in many career paths, but online resources can help bridge the gap. National career services and non-profit organizations provide tools, information and nurture life skills (see resource box). Read the FT to learn more about employers, sectors and issues.

  2. Net. Take every opportunity to ask people for advice: friends, family, contacts, others you can connect with through social media such as LinkedIn. If you ask for advice a few minutes before work, most people will be happy to help you and direct you to future opportunities when the time is right.

  3. Remember that there are many satisfying careers. There is a new focus on the importance of “heart, hand and mind” rather than mere intellectual ability. According to OECD projections, demand for routine tasks—manual and cognitive—is decreasing, but growing for non-routine tasks. AI and coding cannot replace skilled jobs like plumbing, cooking and janitoring.

  4. Accept that college is not for everyone. University is an opportunity for the intellectually curious to explore and stretch, and build a network of friends. But not everyone can afford it or enjoy it, or is ready for it so young. There are other ways to continue your education while working, such as undergraduate studies.

  5. Don’t think that a job is forever. The days of lifelong employment are largely over. Most future careers will involve multiple activities and employers. Students must be prepared for roles that have not yet been defined or invented. A decision today is not locked in for life.

  6. Acquisition of hard and soft skills. Literacy and numeracy are important, as are new skills such as coding. But also practical skills, including clear communication, critical thinking, creativity and being able to get along with others and put them at ease.

  7. Consider experience as well as qualifications. Academic performance is important, but employers want evidence of different skills: work experience, volunteering, family support, and extracurricular activities can demonstrate leadership, initiative, compassion, and teamwork.

  8. Keep learning. Increasingly, we will all need to spend more time in training to stay up to date with technology and learn new skills. In the future, education will be lifelong, rather than something aimed at pre- or early-career young people.

Skills for a changing workplace

These charts are based on analysis from the World Economic Forum and the OECD to show how the demand for different skills is changing as the world of work evolves.

A graph showing the growing demand for analytical skills

As you can see in Chart 1, the demand for “soft skills” such as critical thinking and problem solving is increasing. And Figure 2 highlights the shift away from routine, manual, and unskilled work toward nonroutine cognitive work that cannot be easily automated.

A graph showing the decline of routine-based work

Broader societal trends, including an aging population and greater use of technology, are driving growth in some sectors, including healthcare and education, where there are currently insufficient workforce skills to meet demand, see Chart 3.

Chart showing that medical knowledge and educational skills are undervalued

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