Mohammed Zeeshan is the CEO and Co-Founder of MyCaptain, an online mentoring platform. His vision has always been to impact Education and bring a societal mindset shift when it comes to Careers in India and all across the World, and MyCaptain is a step towards this. He comes from a B. Tech Mechanical Engineering background and has a keen interest in Policy, Education, and Impact.
In today’s time and age, India has realised the importance of mental health and social media has led to massive awareness and curiosity about the same. The stigma is slowly decimating, and students, right from backgrounds in Engineering to Business, Arts and Humanities, want to understand how the human psyche functions.
Gone are the days when Indian parents and students used to rely on traditional fields such as Engineering, Medicine, Law and Accountancy as their go-to careers. The past 10 years, with the digital revolution, students moving heavily into various social media platforms and increase in awareness, students have started moving into other alternate careers.
Then there is another section of the society that aims for something different, something bigger for their children. But yet again, this different, bigger option is wrapped up in a few select career paths like engineering, Medicine, management, CA etc.
The most important changes in mindset are twofold: a) There are other Careers out there. b) These are viable and sustainable career options. The most important change is at the acceptance level – that times have changed and with changing times, emerge new requirements to be met. This needs to happen at an overall societal level both in our parents’ generation and in our own generation. Tier 1 cities are already seeing this form of a change emerge, but Tier 2 and Tier 3 are still behind in India.
The school education system has limited scope for exploration of interests. It’s a constant drone of the same curriculum and teaching method year after year. Parents and students alike do not have any real-life role model they can talk to. They know the neighbouring uncle who is an engineer and doing well so engineering must be a good field. They have never met a writer or a psychologist or designer and as such, hence do not see such fields as concrete career options. Rather, it’s an abstract concept, something that’s not for them or beyond them.
A study conducted by HSBC across different nations had some not so surprising findings. Majority of Indian parents surveyed wanted their kids to take up engineering (23%), business management (22%), CS and IT (16%) and medicine (14%).
The same study also found that the most important goal that Indian parents have for their children would be a stable and successful career. It is a clear indication that the career of their children is extremely important for the parents, but it also shows that their definition of a ‘successful’ career is highly constrained.
That would have been good had there not been a different trend within the workplace and industries of the world. The very concept of work is changing. Newer technologies are changing the dynamics of many industries at the same time. 3D printing, AI, ML, automation, all these are disrupting the standard workflow.
Manufacturing one item that required the work of 2 or 3 auxiliary subunits of an industry can be done with a single 3D printer. The advent of companies like Ola and Uber has changed the demand-supply change of not just the car manufacturing and retail industry but also the need for hiring full-time drivers or maintaining a car.
The entertainment industry in India is getting bigger and bigger by the day with entertainers not just being restricted to the tough barbs of Bollywood but exploring without as well. Hence, we see Independent content creators, youTubers, Stand-Up Comedians, and whatnot, coming up and making a life out of these otherwise offbeat careers! Then there is Design, which as a field has been reaching new heights, and with tech reaching to the most rural of the rural areas in India, the demand for these jobs has increased. And because such empowerment is being seen by students and young professionals alike, it’s no surprise that Entrepreneurship is on a hike, and it doesn’t just stop there – India has a growing gig economy – an army of freelancers who are disgruntled by the 9-5 of Corporates and startups alike, and want more independence. This is slowly becoming a way of life for many young people and it’s only going to grow from here.
So, yes, the industries and their demands are changing. But unfortunately, the college curriculum and higher education system is not keeping up with that. McKinsey did a study that found 60% of the graduates from countries like India, Brazil, China, etc. have a severe skill mismatch from their industry.
Industry expectations have changed. With each passing year, it’s getting more and more on-demand and personalized in nature. And this change has created demands for a new kind of workforce, one that is as flexible and creative as its demands.
Consequently, the creative and lesser-known industries like writing, designing, psychology, analysis and marketing are coming to the forefront in terms of demand. Freelancing as a full-time job option is also on the rise.
Each day parents and children together find new career paths and discover new fields. And through this, each day, our society’s definition of a “safe”’ career is broadened to include something new.