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Changing Societal Mindset Towards Careers In India

The school education system has limited scope for exploration of interests.

There is a raging debate on nepotism in the Hindi Film Industry. Everyone has their own two cents to put in about how wrong or unfair it is. But we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, is nepotism exclusive to just that industry?  

Surprisingly, the answer is ‘no.’  

It exists in almost every field. A doctor’s child usually becomes a doctor. A businessman’s child grows up to take over their parent’s business. In such cases, the chance of career options for the child is already limited. A doctor’s child usually does not wonder if they could venture into Business or the Liberal arts. No, they choose from becoming an ENT specialist or an Oncologist!  

Then there is another section of the society that aims for something different, something bigger for their children. But yet again, this different, bigger option is wrapped up in a few select career paths like engineering, Medicine, management, CA  etc.  

The school education system has limited scope for exploration of interests. It’s a constant drone of the same curriculum and teaching method year after year. Parents and students alike do not have any real-life role model they can talk to. They know the neighbouring uncle who is an engineer and doing well so engineering must be a good field. They have never met a writer or a psychologist or designer and as such, hence do not see such fields as concrete career options. Rather, it’s an abstract concept, something that’s not for them or beyond them. 

A study conducted by HSBC across different nations had some not so surprising findings. Majority of Indian parents surveyed wanted their kids to take up engineering (23%), business management (22%), CS and IT (16%) and medicine (14%). 

The same study also found that the most important goal that Indian parents have for their children would be a stable and successful career. It is a clear indication that the career of their children is extremely important for the parents but it also shows that their definition of a ‘successful’ career is highly constrained.  

That would have been good had there not been a different trend within the workplace and industries of the world. The very concept of work is changing. Newer technologies are changing the dynamics of many industries at the same time. 3D printing, AI, ML, automation, all these are disrupting the standard workflow.  

Manufacturing one item that required the work of 2 or 3 auxiliary subunits of an industry can be done with a single 3D printer.  

The advent of companies like Ola and Uber has changed the demand-supply change of not just the car manufacturing and retail industry but also the need for hiring full-time drivers or maintaining a car.  

So, yes, the industries and their demands are changing. But unfortunately, the college curriculum and higher education system is not keeping up with that. McKinsey did a study that found 60% of the graduates from countries like India, Brazil, China, etc. have a severe skill mismatch from their industry.  

Industry expectations have changed. With each passing year, it’s getting more and more on-demand and personalized in nature. And this change has created demands for a new kind of workforce, one that is as flexible and creative as its demands.  

Consequently, the creative and lesser-known industries like writing, designing, psychology, analysis and marketing are coming to the forefront in terms of demand. Freelancing as a full-time job option is also on the rise.  

Each day parents and children together find new career paths and discover new fields. And through this, each day, our society’s definition of a ‘good’ career is broadened to include something new.  

It’s a slow change, but it is certain.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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