Thursday, 28 May 2015

[Today] Fluid approach now needed in career planning

The Big Read article “As graduate numbers grow, a hard truth: Not all degrees are equal” (May 23) points to the threat of underemployment and the imperative of matching graduate skills to the workforce.
I believe a shift in expectations and more fluid approaches to career planning are critical here. A recent article in Fast Company magazine spoke of radical changes to be expected in the job market, such as the replacement of private bankers and wealth managers with algorithms, and how artificial intelligence is threatening to make lawyers and accountants redundant.
Essentially, traditionally “safe” career choices, pegged to decades of conventional degrees, are changing.
Technology is giving birth to novel solutions to problems even as it precipitates more complex ones. How do we come to terms with this? How might the human brain figure into this equation?
This month, online magazine TechCrunch shared Infosys COE Vishal Sikka’s thoughts on the future of work: “In Sikka’s view, in the not-too-distant future, systems will do much of the problem solving and people will need to engage in ‘problem finding’.”
Hence, preparing graduates for the future may lie in cultivating their ability to take ownership of their careers and chart trajectories that will get them there. Many toolkits, coaching professionals and articles out there offer ways of doing this.
However, what I have found to be particularly useful is a framework known as design thinking, which is a continuous, interchangeable process of empathising, defining, ideation, prototyping and testing.
For graduates, this means beginning with a plethora of career-option ideas that converge gradually into a testable plan of action. Internships and part-time stints would be useful here.
After ascertaining which particular careers or companies align best with one’s abilities, one should channel one’s energy into connecting with a handpicked few. A deep understanding of oneself and where one can best create value is integral here.
One should think seriously about where one stands in this regard, at the start of one’s career planning. As we continue in the knowledge economy, graduates can and should look to new opportunities to learn and grow.
Indeed, the time of “getting a degree (to) move up” is dissipating and it is timely to look beyond the status quo. Our future industry-shapers and professionals are directly responsible for what will come to fruition.
They should maintain their thirst for knowledge and take courses in their free time, such as the myriad of free online courses available from vendors such as Coursera. The world is changing, and pining for graduates to craft it.