Preparing for the changing job market

Traditionally, career planning has been the last step of the education process when it should be the first. Delaying career planning to after one’s education is completed leads to expensive college costs, debilitating college debt, and little to no entry into the job market. In the end, the education someone invested in for several years could be irrelevant in the fast-changing job market.

The pace of change in American culture — indeed, throughout the world — is moving faster than any time in human history. Over centuries, jobs changed from agriculture to manufacturing. In decades, the nation’s focus changed from manufacturing to technology. Today, ongoing technological advances influence almost every sector of American work. As a result, many types of jobs available to American workers 50, 25, 10, even 5 years ago, no longer exist.

With the nation in economic turmoil and hundreds of thousands of people being laid off from jobs that are no longer needed, finding a job for today’s workers is tough. Yet, thousands of young people graduate college each year without sufficient preparation for a well-paying job in the new economy. With the average cost of an in-state undergraduate degree approaching $50,000, can people really afford to be trained for a job that might not exist when they graduate?

Perhaps you prepared for your career following an old paradigm: You got your education in a subject that interested you, chose a job in a company and/or industry that would employ you for life, and prepared for a long retirement. This old paradigm doesn’t fit with today’s economic, political, and technological realities.

The new paradigm requires everyone to become keen educational consumers and to employ a comprehensive approach that bridges education to the career of choice. To prepare for admission to college, one still has to participate in many activities while maintaining high academic grades. In addition, the student should:

• Define career goal.

• Determine educational path: college major or training program.

• Research job and industry trends.

• Identify and join industry networks and associations.

• Develop industry contacts and learn social networking.

• Find an internship, part-time or volunteer work.

• Research job boards for skills and job requirements.

This comprehensive approach will help your child bridge education to the career of his or her choice.

Kirkland resident Janice E. Reha, MA, CMHC, is a career counselor with more than 30 years experience in private practice. Visit www.careerdiscoveryinc.com or call 425-451-2878.


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