Meeting The Challenges of 2020

Counseling the young generation towards emerging subject areas and new study destinations

I have been constantly writing in my columns the importance of career counseling and advising my young generation to understand that they need to prepare themselves for the rapidly changing global market requirements. The children of today who are leaving their high schools after intermediate (12thgrade) or CIE (O & A Levels) are thosewho would now be embarking upon their degree programs leading to a subject specialization or choosing a profession that they will live with for years to come. These children are mostly those who were born in or near about the year 2000 and are often called“The Millennials”. In theirteens now and in the absence of professional career counseling they are exposed to tons of information and choices available through digital and mobile gadgets which have become common and must tools in every hand. This information is often more confusing than helpful in making decisions as the benefits from this information depends on its critical evaluation and assessment which of course is missing. This young generation is completely different in their attitude and behavior when compared to their counterparts who were born in the 80s and are already part of our workforce.

Digitalization and technological advancement during the past two decade has reshaped and restructured the composition of orthodox degrees whether in science, technology or social science. The continuum of this change in the coming years will further demand new and emerging subject areas to develop a work force that meets the challenges and demands of the industry and commerce around 2020. It is therefore important that our youth is provided with professional and timely counseling, help and support so that they can evaluate and assess their academic ability, intelligence and advise them towards making a right career decision when choosing their degree programs. There are some crucial factors that would affect this decision and I thought I describe them in an attempt to help and guide those standing on this career roundabout. Some questions in making these decisions could be;What are the new professions and specializations that we call emerging? What would market demand from the professionals of tomorrow? Where can they study for these degrees? Should they study in Pakistan or look at opportunities abroad? Which country to choose and what would be the cost of living and tuition if they choose to go abroad?

Somehow our parents and advisors feel that the best professions for their children would be to become a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. The assumptions that they base their decisions are mostly that these professions are not only respectful but easier when finding jobs or making careers. It is therefore first of all important to assess and counsel a child in terms of his nature, characteristics, interest inparticular subjects, likes and dislikes before jumping on to any conclusions and assuming that he or she would make a perfect doctor, engineer or a lawyer.

The rapid developments that are taking place in every sphere of life through digitalization, changes in socio-economic environments, safety and mobility all are factors that have helped evolve the emergence of new subject areas to meet the future market demand. The use of computer technology and digitalization in almost every walk of life whether processing a financial transaction, making a driving license or even booking an airline ticket means that we need experts and professionals both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the areas of Internet Security, Forensic IT, Cyber Crime, Cryptography. A number of these degrees are now being offered in Pakistan both at public and private sector universities and those pursuing a computing science degree or having special interest in Information Technology can look at further specialization in any of the above areas that are in huge demand worldwide.

Similarly huge developments and research is on the way in the area of health and biological sciences. While medical practitioners would also be in demand there are specialisms that have exceeded in terms of their career prospects. These include microbiologists, biotechnologists, virologists, genetic engineers etc. these specialisms have emerged in view of the ongoing fight against cancer, AIDS and virals such as Ebola, Dengue and Bird flu. The research in DNA, gene and cloning will result in creation of new subject areas within this domain and more career prospects will be available for the next generation to come.

Likewise the developments in the engineering sector whether mechanical, civil, electrical or electronics the technological advancement, research and development has compelled the academia to create new degrees and include modules that were never part of the orthodox syllabus of these degree programs. The engineering students now have to study many new subjects that are currently used in industry today such as digital and control systems, mechatronics, robotics and drone engineering, intelligent systems engineering, advance structures and materials, mobile networks and communication etc. Specialization in these areas seems to be imperative if one has to find a good job in modern industry environment today.

The social science area is also not far behind when it comes to developments, keeping in view the changing patterns in the socio-economic and geo-political situation worldwide. Economic crisis, terrorism and security issues and international conflicts have resulted in specialized degrees and courses in this sector.Whether you are a social scientist, an economist, a lawyer, a journalist or wish to study political science a huge number of sub-specialisms are now available at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in development studies, international security and terrorism, electronic media and journalism, poverty reduction, conflict and peace studies, policy and governance, criminal justice and human rights etc. that trains professionals to negotiate these important issues  and find appropriate career prospects in Pakistan or across the world. A table showing new degree areas in different sectors I given for guideline.

Emerging Degree Areas
Engineering Social Sciences Medical Sciences
Embedded System Design & Engineering Public Administration Radio Imaging and Sensing
Computer Games Technology Electronic Journalism Biomedical Engineering
Artificial Intelligence Anthropolgy HealthTechnology Management
Network Security Money Laundering Medical Electronics and Physics
Sustainable Energy Technologies Social and Criminal Justice Allergy & Immunology
Earthquake Engineering Communication Marketing Medical Genetics
Drone Engineering Industrial Relation Officer Neurology

Having said briefly on the emerging subject areas above it is also important to provide a guideline on study abroad options including some new study destinations that have emerged especially for Pakistani students in view of different visa embargos and financial strains one has to consider when making such choices.

Traditionally United Kingdom used to be the first choice for Pakistani students and Pakistan remained the key market till about 2013. This situation has changed in the recent years with increasing restrictions on student visa rules and the hype in tuition fees and the Sterling to Rupee exchange rate. The student mobility from Pakistan has now changed in terms of priority counties in the following order Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States are among the first popular choices followed by China, Turkey, Malaysia and Eastern Europe that have emerged as new study destinations. United Kingdom is still on the map with selective students having CIE background and strong financial status still choose Britain as their first choice.

The following chart show current estimatedannual cost of tuition and living in different countries as a guideline.

Estimated Annual Cost of Tuition and Living Abroad
Country Living Cost (Approx.) Tuition Fee (Approx.)
United Kingdom £ 9,000 to £ 11,000 £ 8,000 to £ 18,000
United States $ 10,000 $ 18,000 to $ 30,000
Canada C$ 9,000 C$ 18,000 to $ 30,000
Australia AU$ 18,610 AU$ 42,093
Germany € 9,000 Free
Malaysia $ 6,000 $ 5,000 to 9,000
Turkey $ 5,000 to $ 7,000 $ 5,000 to $ 11,000
Poland € 3,000 € 2,500 to 3,000
Sweden € 9,000 to € 10,000 € 9,000 to € 12,000

To summarize parents and students need to carefully examine their options before selecting and choosing a career and making a decision on a particular study destination. While it is true that huge mushrooming of fake career consolers and education consultants pose problems for them to choose a qualified and authentic counselor, it is still important to take professional advice when it comes to the future of our youth. Remember that parents and teachers are your first counselors, however when selecting a counselor you should be sure of his knowledge, qualification, experience and that you fully trust the person that is making an intervention in your life for better career counseling. If someone wishes more clarification or advice in any of the above areas he can always contact me at

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