In an ever-changing job market, a group of local education innovators are inspiring the nation’s youth to explore diverse career paths
The fast-paced world, while a catalyst for progress, poses a daunting challenge, especially in the job market.
Nowadays, new jobs and industries emerge every few years, leaving the younger generation bewildered about their career choices.
While some societies adapt swiftly to these changes, others lag behind, clinging to traditional jobs of the past.
The Leading Lights campaign, a community outreach programme led by a local education-based marketplace which began this year, aims to confront these challenges head-on with its primary objective being to motivate youth to explore unconventional career choices.
Founder and chief learning officer of Mavensdotlive Goh Chai Li explained that Leading Lights strives to broaden young people’s understanding of career options and encourage them “to delve into new, fulfilling prospects for the future”.
The campaign, according to Goh, involves visiting schools across the Sultanate and conducting interactive two-hour sessions where industry professionals share their real-life experiences and offer valuable advice about their careers. It also includes activities designed to teach essential soft skills.
“While we can’t cover everything in those two hours, our aim is to kickstart the thinking process among teens. Many young individuals are uncertain about their future career paths, even up to university level, so it’s crucial to start this exploration at a young age,” she continued.
Referring to a comprehensive survey conducted among students across 41 countries in both 2000 and 2018, Goh, also known as CL, highlighted a concerning trend where a significant number of teenagers tend to focus on a limited set of popular careers.
Over nearly two decades, the research consistently indicated that an increasing number of teenagers aspire to pursue the same top 10 professions which were predominantly traditional roles like doctors and teachers.
“This shows teenagers need to learn about many more career choices. They need to think beyond just a small number of traditional jobs,” she explained.
The programme, she added, stresses the importance of exposing teenagers to a broader range of career opportunities, to equip them for the rapidly evolving job landscape of the future.
“Students need to understand which jobs are expanding and which ones are shrinking. Many are still drawn to professions that were popular in the past, unaware that some of these careers are declining or becoming automated,” she shared.
The former educator pointed out that students are also showing less interest in emerging careers in technology and green industries, despite their rapid growth and reduced likelihood of automation in these sectors.
“We must introduce students to the new career options on the horizon, expanding their perspective on employment. With knowledge of these emerging careers, students can make informed decisions, paving the way for brighter futures,” she continued.
Targeting students aged 16 to 25, the programme has successfully reached six schools, with plans to expand to more in the near future, Goh said.
Its impact has resonated globally, earning recognition as one of the top hundred projects from 43 countries at the World Youth Development Forum held in Beijing recently.
This accolade, the 100 Excellence Action for Global Youth Development, underscores the campaign’s profound significance on an international level.
“We are committed to sustaining our initiative, and we already have schools waiting to be included in our programme. While our efforts are provided free of charge, we are actively seeking impact partners to provide funding, enabling this programme to progress further.”
Leading Lights aims to empower 5,000 students across 60 schools in 2024 with the ultimate goal of creating a positive impact on young lives, particularly during this crucial phase of career exploration. – Wardi Wasil