May 17, 2024

Talk To Your Child About Career

By Bob G. Kisiki

Our children are caught up in the land between two epochs. They have gone to school at a time when the era careers were mostly defined by what one studied at college or university is coming to a close, and the one when what one pursued the whole of their life has little or nothing to do with their subject combination or college degree.

If anything, the new era is challenging the significance of earning a college degree. Oh yes, you might feel that this is only true for bazungu, but it is already here as well.

In the past, once you went to secondary school, you started moulding your future. The subjects you chose to do at O’level determined what you studied at A’level, and your A’level combination determined which courses were open to you at the tertiary level.

On the broader level, it determined whether you would study the sciences, or do the arts or humanities. At the micro level, even with the sciences, it determined whether you would be a natural scientist, a biological scientist, a physical scientist or whatever else you can be.

Not any longer!

Now, regardless of what your child will study or is studying or has studied, there are qualities they must have to survive in the current volatile marketplace. These are what we refer to as 21st-century skills.

This is a wide field that you and your child need to acquaint yourselves with, but taken in the round, they are a set of skills intended to help students keep up with the fast-paced modern markets. Though each skill plays a peculiar role, together, they are essential in the age of the internet. They, in short, are inescapable.

These skills are subdivided into learning skills – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, literacy skills – information, media and technology, as well as life skills – flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.

While learning skills help students acquire the mental processes required to adapt and improve in the marketplace, literacy skills focus on the discernment of facts, as well as the technology behind them.

Finally, life skills deal with the personal and professional qualities of a student’s life. Altogether, a young person who acquires all or most of these skills will be able to find (and maintain) their way in the 21st century and possibly beyond.

For that matter, you’re better off preparing and supporting your child to acquire these skills. First of all, you and your child (but especially you yourself) should cease thinking that unless your child becomes a lawyer or doctor or engineer, they will never make it in life.

Yes, they should aspire to get into these fields or whichever other career they choose, but even with the best legal or engineering knowledge and skills, they will struggle in this information age, without these skills.

After you have weaned yourselves off the ancient thinking of subject-based success, reach out for places and spaces where your child can acquire the 12 21st-century skills.

While these skills have been incorporated into their teaching methodology by some schools and the new secondary school curriculum in Uganda, you can also make it your duty to encourage your child to acquire them, so they will fit in a highly competitive environment.

The writer is a parenting counsellor and teacher

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