Little Knowledge And Surplus Opportunities Silver Lining For Career Counselling
The youth of our country is not getting the much-needed advice that will help them land jobs and conversely new emerging sectors are struggling to find the requisite talent
India is a counselling-deficit education sector - and has just around 1 lakh career counsellors whereas it needs at least 15 lakh career counsellors to satisfy the student market (315 million students) today. In comparison, the US has about 2.6 million student counsellors for 56 million students!
Apart from the usual pressures of competition, the increasing complexity of choices in a fast-changing global business environment, disruptive technologies in the information age and a highly volatile job market, make deciding on a life-long career choice a severe challenge for students and parents alike.
Prateek Bhargava, CEO & Founder, Mindler talks to BW People about career prospects in counselling, region-specific demand for career counsellors and timely guidance to the students for better employment prospects.
Mindler talks about lack of career counsellors in India. What is the current job demand scenario; what regions have the highest demand and how does this sector augur for professionals?
Career counselling has never been as important as it is today. In the present scenario, when you factor in that over 93 percent of Indian schools do not have career counsellors, there are over 250 careers to choose from and there is a shortage of nearly 14 lakh trained career counsellors in the country today, it is no surprise that career counselling has emerged as a greatly in-demand career choice! As per the reports from MHRD, EY, and KPMG market report on K12 education, the market size for career assessment and guidance is over INR 5,000 crore in India alone and is continuously growing. Developing economies are increasingly appreciating the impact of career counselling in aligning students with the right options and thus contributing to nation-building.
The biggest chunk of jobs are to be found in cities like Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, and Kolkata. Therefore, the need to direct students to relevant careers is naturally highest here. But we are witnessing a growing demand from tier 2 & 3 towns like Lucknow, Indore, Surat, Raipur, Dharamshala, where there is growing awareness but little access to high-quality career counselling. As this awareness percolates, this demand for career counsellors will rise exponentially. The fast-changing job market – domestic and global – especially in the age of AI will ensure that career counsellors continue to grow in importance.
Why has the mismatch increased to this level? What can compel people to think about counselling as a career seriously?
For a country with the world’s largest student population, such a huge shortage of career counsellors does not augur well. A key reason for this mismatch can be traced to a traditional lack of understanding about its importance. It was common for the youth to seek informal support from friends and family around their career choices, with no visible requirement for professional career counselling.
Another reason is that the need was never urgent as it has been in recent years. In the pre-liberalization era, there were very few known career choices and most followed in their parent’s footsteps. Since then, while the job market and educational scenario has undergone a massive transformation on the back of technology disruptions and choices have exploded, the awareness of the criticality of receiving expert career advice did not keep pace. This is why India is staring at a shortage of 1.4 million career counsellors today. What is surprising is that even in the current scenario, there is poor awareness among students and parents about the plethora of career choices (over 250). A recent survey conducted by Mindler showcased that an astonishing 93 percent of students were aware of only 7 career options!
Career counsellors have huge scope in today’s world with an increased number of career choices. According to statistics, 86 percent of students are very concerned about choosing the right career and 92 percent hardly get any career guidance. In the recent era, parents are very concerned about their student’s career and career counsellors can reveal the right path for success. The remuneration is high, and the growth is steady because of heavy demand. With jobs across diverse fields coming into play, career counselling is becoming integral in ensuring future career success. The mindsets of parents, teaching community and students are seeing a paradigm shift and we will see more and more people choosing career counselling as a career.
What does it take to be a career counselor? Is Mindler raking up efforts to bridge this need of 14 lakh counselors?
Like in all fields, career counseling also demands some basic skills. Some of these include good communication skills, patience, and empathy, good listening skills, ability to motivate others, and a positive mindset among others. Professional training and certification is a must. Over and above, career counselors need access to global best practices, most current career guidance tools, and latest technology trends. Continuous learning and access to state-of-the-art career guidance tools & assessments are critical.
Mindler is creating a pool of trained and certified career counselors across the country to meet the huge shortage and the surging demand. Last year Mindler launched International Certified Career Coach Program (ICCC) – a three-month international certification course for career counselors, in collaboration with the Career Development Alliance (USA), called the International Certified Career Coach (ICCC). More recently, it launched the Mindler Partner Platform with an aim to provide access to the most current, cutting-edge career tools to counselors, especially to those residing in smaller cities across India. The partner platform program is filing a critical need by giving access to the latest career guidance tools, research and knowledge base on different career options (continuously updated) to counselors in underserved areas. Besides these specific initiatives, Mindler, as a pioneer in this space undertakes many initiatives including organising of workshops to create awareness about career counselling as a critical need among key stakeholders like students, parents and schools as well as awareness on the career counselling as a great career option by popularizing their partner platform and breaking the entry barrier for those looking to make a career in this space.
Can unemployment be connected to lack of information about different career choices? Is it a problem of too many in one sector and lack of skilled professionals in other?
A government survey of over 150,000 households across India between April and December of 2015 threw up some startling data. A highly educated Indian youth is more than five times as likely to be unemployed as an uneducated one. Nearly 35 percent of Indian youths who possess graduate degrees and above are unemployed, while relatively uneducated young workers (6.2 percent unemployment) are doing much better. Similarly, unemployment is higher among youth in India (13.5 percent) than those over 30 years of age (1.5 percent)*. All of these point to the fact that there is a serious mismatch between skill building and available jobs. The youth of our country is not getting the much-needed advice that will help them land jobs and conversely new emerging sectors are struggling to find the requisite talent. Timely career guidance can help bridge this gap.
What stage of career needs maximum guidance for a better job prospect? How do the students manage this situation of lack of career counselors?
Students should be made aware of their career options by the age of 14-15 as by that time they have to decide the stream that they would like to pursue. Choosing a stream is a very important decision as by then one ideally needs to be aware of a different set of career options available and which stream would be best to pursue that career. Learning about the large universe of career options at a young age helps students have a clear view of what they want to achieve, and the steps involved in achieving the same.
Students in smaller cities are typically given a vision from childhood about some specific careers and they gradually develop blindside for other career choices. Students generally follow what they hear from their peer group without thinking of their interest, aptitude, and knowledge. Earlier, they used to take a lot of help from the internet and the information available online but many of them have landed to a wrong career decision. The negative outcome of this is evident in the increasing trend of new joiners quitting jobs midway. With more than 250 career option available, many of them opt for conventional option only. The skilled career counselor will put you at the forefront of different career opportunities and help you meet this expanding demand.