Money talks, sure it doesn’t sit and have coffee with you on a Sunday afternoon - but it still has enough common sense to give you advice that at times can dictate your life. From high school through to university, individuals are battling the conversation of finances and though higher education is supposed to be the breeding ground for tomorrow’s future thinkers and leaders, it’s now becoming a stumbling block for graduates with no direction and attached with a lovely red bow is a neatly written price tag!
Welcome to the next phase of the financial recession…the knock-on effect.
It has been said that the financial recession is done and dusted, the reset button has been pressed and individuals are now breathing a sigh of relief. However in its wake lies the aftershock, the effect on the careers market has inadvertedly has been ignored…brushed under the carpet.
So when ripping off the “Band-Aid” that was used to cover the financial wounds (though at first screamingly sore) , we are actually facing in the careers market, a lack of direction with hint of desperation.
In such desperate times people will short change their ambitions and bank on the safety of careers that can pay the bills. It is as simple as basic maths, for example my dream job is either too expensive to pursue or will never meet the level of financial stability - I need therefore I must pursue the safer option.
In order to understand this we have to breakdown the career market into three different financial levels. At the top is the first financially stable concept of the LAD system (Lawyer, Accountant, Doctor) which slamdunk's the cool and dreamlike careers of becoming a chef or a pilot. For one it’s a cheaper option, there will always be a need for the LAD system and if one can’t become a chef they can always eat at a gourmet restaurant and live their dreams vicariously - or in this case, gastronomically!
The MD of the International Hotel School, Don King, motivates “A responsible educator will offer programmes who’s graduates are required by industry and should also take responsibility for ensuring that their graduates are ‘job ready’ on graduating and find them jobs, or at least help them. If you find that kind of educator, don’t let the cost worry you, it will be worth it for the rest of your life!”
Next up is the: ‘I can’t afford an education but I have solid grades therefore I need to become employed.’ At this level the dream careers are a thought of a distant past and making ends meet is the focus.
Finally the next level is the ‘I can’t get a job because I need some form of qualification so I will study whatever I can afford to get a job.’ The rationale behind this is that desperate times calls for desperate measures.
Bridget Berry the former South African national head of Graduate Recruitment for Ernst & Young says: “ If working and studying is the only option for you then grasp, while expanding your academic knowledge you will also build some business acumen. Trying to balance work and study is not easy it will require a lot more dedication and time, but you need to decide what is best for you and your future. In these tough economic times you cannot afford to sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you - you need to find them and make them work for you. Explore bursary opportunities and be proactive in your approach.”
It is a horrible situation to face but the bottom-line is that it’s true: no matter how much we hate to admit, the world is losing talented individuals to the wrong career sectors because of an underlying factor that people are financially unable to afford a career. Though we only mentioned high school and higher education this problem stems from a grass-roots level where basic education is unaffordable or not fulfilling enough.
So the awkwardness of the situation has now been faced and dealt with, like the financial recession its been done and dusted. Now its time to find a solution and that is something that also needs to be put forward in big bold letters, which is HARD WORK and CHANGE.
How many times have you come across an individual who state that at college and university they learnt literally next to nothing and that in the real world i.e. ‘the university of life’ they really started their education. The key is that though all fine and dandy in these times where money talks and waits for no one, its time to change the system.
Take the practical and meet it with the theoretical. How many great chefs started their careers working as kitchen ‘commies’ or pilots who where baggage handlers at the airport. These are the people who paid their way through their studies and built their career ambitions by working in the field that they wanted their career to be directed in. The same goes for those accountants who started fresh out of high school working at an accounting firm whilst studying.
However its not only about working in the same industry, change it up a little, if you can’t get a job in an accounting firm or a kitchen or at the airport, find a job that can make you grow and at the same time fund your studies or career ambitions. You never will know unless you investigate every possibility.
Tonia Valis, the former South African Head of Education for the Association for Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) states: “The ACCA encourages students to seek employment whilst studying; as the work place puts the academic side to the qualification into context. Pacing studies is essential for work life balance – this allows learners to pace their funding of their studies as well.”
The key is this, have a goal, explore options in pursuing it and create as many routes as you can to get there…who knows maybe the university of life is all you need and in the wake of a financial recession. It’s a lot cheaper than the price tag that is attached to that university or college qualification. The knock on affect of the financial recession is not going to go away anytime soon and its affect is broader than just the careers market.
Your strength nevertheless lies in the fact that you still have a choice and where there is a goal there is more than just one route to get there. It’s how you choose that route that counts.