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For three out of four in the developed world, employment is horrible...

I graduated three months ago and soon realized that the mammoth leaps between "dream" careers that I had made in the 23 year run-up to May 3rd 2014 were driven by many vacuous factors rather than the only important one - what I actually wanted to do. I've literally idealized everything - medicine, law, banking - at one time or another. Moreover, I witnessed 90% of my friends do the same thing. I concluded that we can build better employment pathways for each other by driving each other to dig deep at an earlier age and decide what our passions are. Then, support each other to follow these paths rather than what is in high demand or what pays well; even things we're superbly good at should be secondary to what puts a smile on our faces.

Photo of An Old Friend
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Although a large part of the research on this challenge is (rightfully) on the accessibility to work in the developing world, I wanted to focus on the obstacles graduates have to career fulfillment (or "better employment") because it has hit me hard over the past few months. I feel the sad reality of young people taking the wrong jobs because of financial/societal pressure or misconceptions, despite being well known, is rarely challenged - the result is that two-thirds of people are now unhappy with their jobs. When you consider that we spend the majority of our lives at work, you could say that this is an en-masse waste of human talent. 

Some prospective solutions/issues:
  • Empower people to think outside the box from high-school upwards as to a shortlist of jobs they would like to try - first-hand experience won't always be possible but even talking to current employees via LinkedIn or watching a video of the "day in the life" could be highly valuable in cutting through misconceptions, be they media-driven or otherwise.
  • I also find college placements highly effective in assessing jobs (though it could be more useful in this regard if they were shorter and offered more variety).
  • I think a key driver of structural unemployment right now is an abundance of good-but-generalist resumes rather than a lack of suitable people. I believe that lack of confidence also drives up indecision (along with unemployment numbers); having a niche that you're passionate about should conquer this.
  • Aside from educators, parents should play a role in driving this culture. They will often push their kids towards the highest-paying jobs so they're financially secure. They need to reframe the way they think in order to recognize that financial security will almost always follow (correctly channelled) passion.
  • Despite it sometimes also breeding misconceptions, I feel that the multitude of information on the internet can hold the key to tackling these issues - whats it like to be in this industry, how have others channeled this passion into gainful employement etc.
  • One issue that I can think of with this is that several graduate positions are only open to those who have previous internships in those fields, this can be quite harmful to those who "find themselves" too late and takes away from the best use of industrial placements for students - the result is that it keeps excellent candidates out and draws in those who may have hated the internships but feel compelled to apply becuase they're a "shoe-in" in an otherwise turbulent labour market. The employees aren't the only losers - its no secret that a demoralized workforce can hit a company hard.
  • There needs to be more entrepreneurship-related education in high schools and colleges. Pretty much every passion on the planet can be turned into a business with the right guidance and know-how. On top of the skills that can be taught, the major value is that it builds confidence in proving to young people that there are people who have turned their passions into profitable businesses.
It is no secret amongst the elder folk that salary statistics are not the be all and end all - if you're passionate about something the odds are that you'll find a way of being financially comfortable in the long run.

Although Steve Jobs wasn't the most agreeable of characters he had a habit of hitting the nail on the head: 

In conclusion, I feel that better employment opportunities come when young people are less confused about where they fit in, and if this problem can be solved I feel that unemployment rates will also improve. After all, the vast majority of jobs are easy to work towards once you are focused and go full throttle.


Join the conversation:

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Meena/Nicole :)

Photo of Meena Kadri

Lots of inspiring stuff here, Des! A couple of posts I thought you might be interested to chime in on are: + (the latter around the notion of matching passions to needs) We're amped at the thought of you joining in on more conversations across this challenge...

Photo of Nicole Cagampan

I can completely relate. Thanks for posting this!