Past, Current and Future Trends
A critical review
By Syed Abidi (TI)
Education Expert & Career Counsellor & Columnist
First of all I take this opportunity of congratulating The News on completing its 25 years and celebrating its silver jubilee. I think the entire management and workforce deserves a huge appreciation for delivering unbiased local and international news to the doorsteps of millions of readers for the last 25 years.
I had the opportunity of joining the team of education journalists not too long ago when I started to contribute to the newspaper in the area of career counselling a phenomenon that has been non-existent in the early 1990’s.
The importance of career counselling cannot be ignored in the development and economic growth of any country. The world is changing at an incredible pace and will continue to do so. We are moving from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy and knowledge as such is ongoing evolution.
There are many factors that contribute to this change which include: globalization, demographics, social, lifestyle trends and technology. Each of these factors hugely affects our careers and our personal lives in different ways and will continue to impact us at different times of our lives.
THE DEFINITION OF CAREER COUNSELLING
Before we go any further and discuss the importance of career counselling let us clarify the real definition of what career counselling is all about “The interactive process characterized by a unique relationship between the counselor and client that leads to change in one or more of the following areas:
- Beliefs or emotional concerns relating to perceptions
- Level of emotional stress
Career counselling is a process that would help you to know and understand yourself and the world of work in order to make career, educational and life decisions. The goal of career counselling is not only to help you make these decisions but to give one the knowledge and skills that is needed to make future career and life long decisions through an intervention process’’.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CAREER COUNSELLING
While, career counselling has become an integral part of all educational institutions in the west and its being implemented in theory and practice particularly in secondary, higher secondary and university sectors. The importance of Counseling as a profession has now been widely recognized worldwide, trained and professional education counselors, career and advice centers are now part and parcel in all institutions in developed countries.
CAREER COUNSELLING IN PAKISTAN – PAST AND CURRENT TRENDS
Career Counselling In Pakistan it was non-existent during the early 1990’s both in the public and private sector and therefore, young children and youth had no access to career counselors or career counselling services in the entire education sector. This trend started to change in the early 2000 from the private sector especially with those institutions that were offering CIE qualifications and with the expansion transnational education in the country. The private schools started to develop career counselling units however; these were mostly related to providing information and guidance that was delivered through teachers or management staff. While, the public sector schools never had any career counselling facilities at secondary or higher secondary level and still there is no such facility in these schools.
EDUCATION COUNSSELLING IN HIGHER EDUCATION
There were no provision of career counselling services in the higher education sector in Pakistan up to the early 2000 and even after the formation of higher Education Commission in 2002. These included both public or private sectors and students mostly interacted with private or freelance education counselors and consultants to seek career and future guidance which was mostly limited to study abroad opportunities.
PAKISTAN – FUTURE TRNEDS IN COUNSELLING
Pakistan is one of the world’s largest youth bulge country with 48 % population aged 15 to 49 and 56% aged 15 to 64 that is what we call the productive age group. This young and dynamic population is a wealth for our prosperity. This huge youth population if provided the right cousnelling and guidance at the right time can enormously contribute for the economy and society with their education and skill.
If our children at schools are provided career couselling and guidance by professionally trained counselors and our youth at universities are allowed to interact with career experts they can proved to be an asset to the country and the source of future prosperity and economical development of the Pakistan. It is therefore important for the policy makers to understand the importance of providing career counselling services at school, university and skill training platforms from professionally trained counselors who understand principles and ethics of counselling.
If such a system is developed in our educational and training institutions with the aim to help the individuals regardless of their age and decision making, concerning the issues of education, vocational training, career choice and career development at any stage of life will help navigate our youth in the right direction.
The key contribution which career counselling and guidance facilities can make to achieve our key policy goals are as follows:
- Lifelong learning
- Social inclusion
- Labor market efficiency
- Economic development
The Daily News & Jang are perhaps the only and the first newspapers that launched the initiative of providing career counselling and guidance opportunity to its readers through exclusive columns a few years back. I receive hundreds of emails on daily basis from young children and youth including people in their mid careers asking for guidance and are seemed confused in making their educational and career decisions which tells us how important career counseling is and how hungry our youth is to seek such guidance.
In the current period of economic development, political situation, security and social conditions that prevail we need career counselling and career professionals at every level especially higher education sector. Providing efficient counselling services depend on professionals and methodical training of career counselors in the sector of education, skill development labor and social affairs both in the public and private sectors.
If career counselling and guidance services are made mandatory at all levels in the context of lifelong education that gives the right to every citizen of every age and at every stage of their life, they will achieve the following:
- Identify their possibilities, competencies and interests, to be able to decide about their education, vocational and training
- To manage their life career in education work and other fairs in which they achieve these abilities and use them.
COUNSELLING vs. TECHNOLOGY
It is important to understand that the youth of today often known as the Millennials are exposed to the increasing use of technology and social media gadgets and devices that at one hand bring them rapid and huge information contents but on the other hand increases the risk of getting confused with the choices that are available. This is where a professional and trained career counsellor can play a key role in navigating this information and providing necessary support in making career decisions.
COUNSELLING IN ACTS OF TERROSIM OR TRAUMA
Career counselling is also becoming increasingly important with the current threat of terrorism and acts of violence in schools and educational institutions that we have witnessed in Pakistan in the recent past. While the government and school management at public and private sector is doing all they can to increase security in the schools and provide a safe and secure learning environment to our children. It is vital to understand the impact that these terror threats and attacks every now and then on our educational institutions is bringing on the minds who go to their schools everyday in this shadow of terror threat.
If proper counselling is not provided through professional education psychologists and even pediatricians where necessary may have a negative impact on the learning outcomes of our young children which calls for seriously employing such counselors and services to our youth at all levels.
Research has proved that post-terror attacks on schools in the US has led to slow down the process of learning in young children and frequent interruptions in their school schedule due to security issues tends to alter their classroom absorption levels and learning abilities.
COUNSELLING IN POSTGRADUATE AND RESEARCH
In order for our youth to compete in the rapidly changing world they need to explore their study opportunities that includes emerging subject areas, the advances in research and technology and how to find these opportunities worldwide. Professional career counselling and guidance becomes more vital in the area of postgraduate and research studies. This is where our highly talented and highly qualified students tend to find research opportunities and contribute in the advances that are taking place whether it is social sciences, technology, engineering or health sciences.
A career counsellor that provides guidance to such students has to be trained and should have the expertise in helping to write research synopsis, finding research fundings, supervisions and center of excellences that meets particular requirements of those students seeking such opportunities.
I am sure the government at federal and provincial levels will seriously look towards establishing career development centers at schools and universities. We need to train our teachers and academics to understand the ethics of career counseling so that they can also support the counselors in providing such services to their students. We also need to develop programmes in counseling at bachelors and masters level to produce more professions in this vital area.