A valuable, practical concept that has been introduced to high school learners in recent years is JOB SHADOWING . It allows learners an opportunity to find out more about their future careers. Let’s face it; how many careers are you exposed to as a child, whereby you are exposed to “behind the scenes” work.
We may know a bit about the careers that our parents are in; we may know a little about doctors, dentists, hairdressers, waitresses and the like because we are exposed to them on a regular basis. Yet all that is really exposed is the “front face” and nothing more. As children, we don’t even think to ask or find out what drives the occupation to its exposed appearance.
Involving learners in the workplace assists them in making informed decisions about their future. Learners are encouraged to visit workplaces to find out what their possible career choices entail.
According to experts, job shadowing is one of the best ways for a prospective student to really get to know the essence, the demands and everything else about an occupation.
It’s a daunting thought to even think how people get to choose their careers otherwise. When you are so young, you do not think or realise that the choice of career you then make will impact upon your entire life and that of your future families.
In days gone by, many children either went into their parent’s businesses or followed their parent’s occupations because that was all that they knew. They often realised a little too late that they had made the wrong choice and felt trapped, not knowing enough about alternative choices. They may have felt unfulfilled and found it too late to make a change. Although you should realise that it is never too late, it becomes harder later in life and you generally have more responsibilities. So, you feel that the only option is to plod on merely going through the motions.
This doesn’t need to happen. With enough research, you can find your passion in a career which is interesting and the essence to make you a happy and successful person.
Parents tend to steer their children in directions of either their own interests or careers that they think may earn well. This can be harmful as what may be of interest to the parent, may not be to the child. Some parents are highly driven achievers and may push their children to attain the same level of success. While that may sound positive and encouraging, it is important to rather approach the process of making a career choice as if it was an adventure and they should accumulate as much information as possible in a practical way, remembering that this is about their child’s future. On the other hand, one finds the demoralised, disinterested parent who may not have the ambition and possibly doesn’t believe that further education is even necessary. Yet the child may have the aptitude to reach a higher potential and wish to fulfil a dream of becoming a professional or a tradesman.
As the cost of studying in South Africa is high, it is wise to make an informed choice before starting out on your career path. Further changes become even more costly.
Everyone has the right to at least try to achieve their dream. Without knowledge, the learner is crippled and unable to make an informed decision. Once exposed to the real guts of the career and all that it entails, you are far better armed to cement your choice or to explore further. A learner may know what career he may not want to follow but still be in the dark about what his career path will be.
Job shadowing can allow the learner the opportunity for a lot of information to be gathered by uncovering the aspects that have not been exposed to the public. Every career has aspects that may not be enjoyable. Having the” hands on” practical experience allows the learner to weigh up his decisions and gives him time to explore alternatives. Of course, it is invaluable to talk to people about what a specific profession entails as well as to read up about it. However, there is no substitute for the practical experience. Nobody can explain the real essence of the smell, the touch or the taste of their own experience and expect you to identify without experiencing it for yourself. We are all different and thus our choice of different careers.
Very often, young people leave it too late to decide what they want to study.
They sometimes only realise in Grade 11 that they have chosen the wrong subjects for the career they want to follow. So, as with most things, early exposure is best.
Learners should begin to identify a few possible career choices in Grade 8. ‘Then, each year, as they gather more information, they can discard one of the possible careers that they thought may’ve interested them before.
‘Matric is too late to begin speculating what to do. Grades 10 and 11 are the critical years to decide on the career that you want to follow.’ However, the earlier the better and the more knowledge of various careers, the more informed the decision.
Dr Madeleine Nolte, head of Student Support at the University of Pretoria. has the following advice for young learners:
- Acquire theoretical knowledge about occupations – what does a specific course entail and what is the content of each module? That will give you an informative idea of what it entails.
- Talk to people involved in a specific occupation – people working in that field as well as students who have completed their studies or are still studying.
- Do job shadowing. Go and sit with someone doing the work and ask: ‘What do you do in a day?’ and ‘What are positive and negative aspects of this occupation?’ See what the work entails and evaluate the occupation accordingly.
While many students today are exposed to Technology, the advantage of such insight allows these young CREATIVE MINDS to decide whether they may wish to follow the path that is offered as a career at