Mon, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000
CURRENT trends in career choices by most youths are working against government’s efforts to reduce high unemployment levels in the country. Therefore, if career choices among most youths are not checked, they are likely to create further unnecessary high unemployment and social insecurity in future.
Many youths don’t take a step back to check job opportunity trends; and the likely future job prospects before they select a career. Career choice considers many factors which no single child can make without assistance from teachers and parents. What are the roles of teachers and parents in career choices? Have most parents and teachers resigned from guiding their children and pupils respectively on career choices?
Interestingly, we have guidance and counseling units in most schools nowadays. What are the roles and responsibilities of such positions in schools? Do they only counsel pupils with high blood pressure (HBP)? Do they only guide and counsel those pupils who misconduct themselves in many other ways? Doesn’t guidance and counseling in schools also include facilitating each pupil make a relatively correct career choice according to his or her personality, performance in school subjects, his or her hobbies and one’s career interest among others?
Most current male and female youths choose any career that is associated with government related job opportunities because they perceive government as the only potential employer for the real or perceived high unemployment levels in the country. Therefore, nowadays, it is not surprising to see someone with a criminal mind being interested in training as a police officer. Some highly indisciplined school leavers want to join Zambia National Service or Zambia Army because they feel that no sooner will they graduate from such training than they will be employed in such government institutions.
But is it true that government is the only employer in our country? No! Many other citizens are working in private sector organisations these days. Look at how many people are employed in construction and transport industry on various categories.
Owing to the perception that government is the only certain employer, currently, common career choices most male and female youths make include public administration, human resource management (HRM), purchasing and supply and fiancé and accounting. Some school leavers want other white collar jobs such as nursing, teaching, law, marketing, public relations, and so on and so forth. Rarely do most modern pupils and school leavers choose vocational skills related courses such as carpentry, auto-mechanics, power electrical, tailoring, plumbing, architecture, agriculture, journalism among others.
IS GOVERNMENT ONLY EMPLOYER?
But is government really the only employer in our current national economy? Whether your answer to this question is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, can government employ all citizens in a country? Do the industries which are booming in our country have more to do with what most male and female youths are selecting as careers? Are the common career choices most youths make have anything to do with the future national economic development trends?
Some male and female citizens are shaking their heads in response to these questions; proving that most youths are making wrong choices in their careers.
To prove one’s concern on career choices among male and female youths in our country, for her dissertations, a certain in-service training teacher conducted a research on career choices among some pupils in Lusaka district. Among the career choices she had put were teaching, mechanics, carpentry, electrical, bricklaying and flying a plane (pilot). Not necessarily in that order. Astonishingly, this in-service teacher told this writer that her research findings revealed that 90 per cent of the respondents selected pilot as their career choice.
This female teacher told this writer that she was amazed that many male and female pupils in secondary schools would choice pilot as their career when the aviation industry in Zambia is still small with few planes to fly! ‘Do these girls and boys think before they choose a career?’ she asked me in surprise while looking at me curiously as if I was her fellow teacher or a parent to all such children.
While wrong career choices don’t seem to be an issue now, they will be a thorn in our fresh few years to come. Most of those school leavers who make wrong career choices now will be stranded on the job market. Some unemployed youths become disgruntled against successive governments; and start many vices such as drug abuse, prostitution, criminal activities and others which disturb social security, peace and stability in a country. Nipping unemployment problem in a bud starts with career choices according to potential economic sector growth trends in few years to come.
Some school leavers, teachers and some parents appear not to know that some career job opportunities are decreasing and at an increasing rate. While in the past some career choices were on high demand, nowadays, some careers which were highly marketable in the past are rarely on demand. But some careers which were not on high demand in the past, are highly marketable on the labour market now.
Many factors are considered in choosing a career or in facilitating a career choice. Not knowing factors to consider in career choice in relations to labour market trends is like contributing to creating high unemployment levels in future for oneself or for a country.
Therefore, general education officials, guidance and counseling teachers, other teachers and parents appear to have a cumbersome task in facilitating our male and female children on career selection. For general education officials, it is highly advisable to create time to check whether most schools, both in urban and rural areas, guide pupils and potential school leavers on correct career choices before they leave school.
As already alluded to, general education officials, teachers, parents and other stakeholders should take time to assess which careers are highly on demand on the labour market; and why? What are specific career demand trends on the labour market for the next five or 10 years; and why?
For instance, in addition to government efforts to fill in many vacancies in many government ministries; and in the process, creating more jobs for its citizens, the current construction and transport sectors’ boom have also created many jobs for male and female citizens in our country.
Because of some past career choice mistakes, some youths are now migrating from the first career choice to others just because they have not found a job on the labour market for various reasons. Wrong career choice and poor articulation of issues in that career negatively affect most youths to find jobs on the labour market.
Choosing a wrong career is like bewitching yourself on the labour market! Don’t bewitch yourself on the labour market. Choose a right career for you to easily and successfully land on a job of your choice soon after graduation.
Business cycles and sector performance trends mostly affect job opportunities on the labour market. In Zambia, for example, structural unemployment seems to be the major cause of unemployment among many male and female citizens.
According to Dean Garratt and John Sloman(nd:360), ‘Essentials of Economics’, structural unemployment is where the structure of the economy changes. Employment in some industries may expand while in others it contracts.
Garrant and Sloman argue that two main reasons create structural unemployment. These are changes in the pattern of demand in some industries as a result of changes in consumer tastes; and probably consumer demand may shift to other industrial or sector goods or services. The other reason is change in methods of production. This is also known as technological unemployment. Some techniques of production allow the same level of output to be produced with few workers. Thus, labour-saving technical progress can also create unemployment (ibid).
In Zambia, mining and civil society organisations serve as good examples of such a situation where, in the past, such sectors employed more workers than it is now due to a number of social, economic and technological reasons.
Apart from government being a major employer in most regions, regional unemployment also seems to affect Zambia’s job opportunities in that little or no meaningful industrialization processes took or takes place in most regions.
Interestingly, most provinces now; especially on the Copperbelt, agriculture is taking off to compete favorably with the mining sector.
From what Garrant and Sloman has given us, school leavers, parents and teachers should be part of analyzing business cycles in the national economy; and assess how each industry is performing; and which sector (s) of the economy seem(s) to be dominating, why and for how long in terms of years, can such a trend take. As alluded to before, such factors and trends affect some careers which might lead to structural or regional unemployment. And school leavers and any other citizen who want to be employed now or in the near future should consider such factors and trends before choosing a career.
Haphazard career choice might create challenges in job hunting; and lead to regrets in the near future. Therefore, a right career choice will make you achieve your career goal; and enjoy a relatively full and decent life on Earth!
The author is a lecturer in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also a trainer in Public Relations (PR) and in Local Governance.
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