CAREER ADVICE: The Desi HR Guy on starting early, getting parents involved and the Abbotsford School District

Published: December 11, 2012

A teen’s personality and strengths are still developing so it’s important that parents educate themselves about various career options.

PAVI TOOR
VANCOUVER DESI

Early in my human resources career, I began to ask myself why wasn’t the 30-year-old unemployed adult, who had a degree from a major university and over $60,000 in student loans, not able to land a decent paying career job?  I also learned that approximately 70 per cent of high school students (according to conservative estimates) do not enroll in universities after graduating high school.  What career options did they have and would they be successful?

I read an article recently by Jeff Weiner, Linkedin’s CEO.  He stated that “One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in business is that managing a hyper-growth company is like launching a rocket — if your trajectory is off by inches at launch, you can be off by miles out in orbit.”  The same could be said about someone’s career: the choices you make in your early years are going to not only a dictate the altitude of your career but also the quality of your life; just ask an adult who started smoking as a teen.

I concluded that early work experience in high school or university was fundamental, as many unemployed young adults eventually realize that their lack of work experience is usually a detriment to them finding entry level employment, let alone a lucrative career.

But there is a problem that must be addressed.  I was reading a recent article in The Economist magazine where it explained A big part of the problem is that educators and employers operate in parallel universes—and that a big part of the solution lies in bringing these two universes together.”  The Abbotsford School District seems to have solved that problem.

One of the most comprehensive high school work experience programs I came across was at the Abbotsford School District.  I have provided the link below and I highly recommend you watch the entire video on the program as it’s over 10 minutes in length.  I learned students can earn university credits in this program at no cost.  I couldn’t believe it, a free university education while in high school.

http://youtu.be/ByZhXRPw4x8

Why isn’t every school district doing this?  I would think that for a program like this to work not only do you need the school district’s support but also the full support of a wide range of stakeholders in the community – parents have to be on the top of that list.

I strongly feel that parents are the most influential factor in guiding the educational choice of students after high school. Some may disagree with me but the people that students will turn to first when they desperately need career guidance and money to pay for their post-secondary education is their parents.

It is important for parents to educate themselves about career options for their children instead of only relying on teachers and career counselors at school.  Some high schools may only have one full-time Career Advisor for 1,200 students, most don’t even have one.  It doesn’t get any better at university.  Some universities will have over 30,000 students registered but only have less than 10 people in their career services or co-op office.

As I mentioned before, work experience programs are an extremely effective way for a student to explore their career preference early, so they can decide if it’s the right choice for them. One of the keys to a successful career is to start planning and obtaining the right work experience early.

Pavi Toor is a Human Resources Manager and operates the site www.careersafterschool.com. He can be reached at pavi@careersafterschool.com.

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