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Why career guidance is important for students

There are more than 250 career options available today and to choose which option is best for us, we need career guidance for that. So, here’s why it is important for students.

By Sunil Dahiya

Career Guidance is a counselling programme designed to help students choose the right career path based on their educational and professional choices. It is a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the knowledge, skills, information, and experience to identify career options available.

In India, awareness, and information about various career options available to students passing out of school are limited. The culture of going to a career advisor is almost non-existent.

According to a recent survey, 93 percent of students were aware of less than ten career options like engineering, medicine, law, finance, IT etc. In contrast, there are more than 250 career options available today. In other words, the awareness levels of many career options are very low in the majority of students.

Need for a career advisor

A career advisor or counsellor is an expert in exploring students’ skill sets and interest levels and suggesting a balanced solution combining the merits of both.

The career advisor relies on career interest or aptitude tests as part of the discovery process to identify factors influencing career interests, abilities, and values. In essence, a career advisor sets realistic career goals for each student.

Students who take professional help from a career advisor also benefit from locating resources and sources of career information, ways to write resumes, preparing for interviews and the basics of networking.

India needs a million+ counsellors

The globally accepted counsellor to student ratio is 1:250, while in India, it is 1:3,000, which denotes a huge shortfall.

On the other hand, it also opens a massive opportunity for career counsellors, especially as 93 percent of schools in India don’t have a dedicated professional counsellor.

The Annual International Career and College Counseling Conference held in 2018 observed that India’s 350 million students need at least 1.4 million career counsellors to get on par with the globally acceptable student-counsellor ratio.

Therefore, we urgently need to create policy, systemic and infrastructural alignment to fill the counsellor void. This is critical to guide and advise students with the right career options, thereby creating a productive, diversified, and distributed workforce contributing to nation-building.

Innovations and technological interventions will play a big role here.

Training and certification of counsellors
Training and certification of counsellors is another key ingredient in the quest to create more than a million counsellors in India.

This will address not only the severe deficit but also quality and standardisation. The training strategy could become more effective if it involves the ambient ecosystem of school managers, principals, and teachers.

Way forward

One of the key changes that can be implemented in our education system is to mainstream Career Guidance Programs with career advisors who are experts in guiding aspirants towards a job of their choice.

The counselling mainstreaming approach should focus on a ‘future-ready’, 360-degree approach equipped with advanced tools and technologies to involve all stakeholders in the counselling process, i.e., teachers, students, and the parents.

The industry can also play an important role in guiding young career aspirants by allowing them to interact with industry professionals who can be the best ‘practical’ guides for career aspirations.

Example–A doctor can meet the students at the school itself and explain to the students the pros and cons of becoming a doctor. At the same time, experts from other fields like retail, engineering, or even armed forces can visit schools to guide the students about their respective fields’ benefits and challenges.

Alternately, industry visits by students can be highly fruitful in providing them with a perspective on different sectors. This also enables the seamless connection of education institutes with the industry.

The time is ripe to popularise and evangelise career guidance and counselling in India. There is a need to have qualified career counsellors in every school and college who can conduct regular sessions with students on different career paths and organize industry visits.

Career guidance and counselling is an area in which the future success and happiness of students, families, schools, and the community hang in the balance!

Source: India Today

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