Career counselling helps students to acquire employment as per potential, aptitude

Peshawar  -  Most of the students at school, college, and even at the university level are unaware of their true potential and aptitude in the selection of subjects, hunting for jobs, and seeking professional careers that could match their inner abilities.

Filing an online application in a net café for a government job, Ehtisham Qasier (26) is hopeful to achieve his dream this time after repeating this painstaking exercise for nearly three years despite his higher education qualification.

Graduated from Government Postgraduate College Peshawar, Ehtisham was unable to secure a government job either through recruitment testing agencies or the public service commission, apparently due to his low grades and repeated changes in education line in his 16-year education career.

“I am applying for government and NGOs jobs for the last three years soon after obtaining a BS four-year degree in Urdu literature from the Government Postgraduate College, Peshawar, but could not succeed due to inappropriate selection of subjects and repeated changing of education line,” the Nowshera-born graduate told APP before leaving for home on a motorbike at Hastnagri bazaar, Peshawar. Ehtisham is rushed to the net cafe to apply for jobs after seeing vacancies advertised in newspapers by different government departments, companies, and NGOs from time to time, and his struggle culminates in extreme disappointment owing to his low educational grades and changing of subjects in secondary, higher secondary, and graduation.

“During my entire educational career, there was hardly anyone in our educational institutes who guided us in the selection of subjects as per our potential and aptitude. As a result, many of my colleagues had either found it difficult to get a dignified job in the public or private sector or left study incomplete, thus putting an extra burden on parents who pinned high expectations on them,” he said.

“There was hardly any other suitable option left for me now but to join a private educational institute in Peshawar as a part-time Urdu teacher to meet my pocket expenses,” he said.

Like Ehtisham Qaiser, many students in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were finding it difficult to get a dignified job due to low grades in their education career owing to the change of subjects from Metric to MA and MSc due to a lack of professional career counsellors in schools and colleges in the province.

Dr Khalid Mufti, former principal of Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, and senior psychiatrist, told the news agency that career counselling is very important in shaping the lives of students at a young age, besides helping them to make informed decisions about their career path.

He said the country’s job market was competitive, requiring skilled hands, while the education system was outdated and non-market-oriented. “Most of our students at primary and even at college level were unaware of their true potential and chose subjects in metric, FA/FSc, graduation, and later MA/MS without consulting career counsellors, which later leads to unhappiness, depression, and frustration in society after they fail to get jobs.”

“The selection of the right career is one of the most life-changing decisions in a student’s life, and if it is not taken seriously, it may result in lifetime regret, frustration, anxiety, and demotivation.”

In a country like Pakistan, where the population bulge had crossed the psychological barrier of 240 million this year and where there were an estimated 22.8 million out-of-school children, including 4.7 million in KP, the role of career counsellors carried significant importance, especially in schools and colleges, to provide much-needed advice on the basis of an assessment of students’ aptitude, personal interests, and desired path.

Besides doctors and engineers and competitive exams, he said there are many education disciplines like artificial intelligence, mechatronics, telecommunication, architecture, textiles, banking, transport, forestry, mining, IT, and petroleum engineering for students to excel in.

Dr Khalid Mufi suggested the appointment of professional career counsellors in elementary and secondary education for the assistance of students, besides ensuring personal and educational growth in life.

“Poor selection of career path and repeated changing of curriculum subjects often lead to poverty and unemployment in the country, where the jobs market is already overburdened,” said Prof Dr Naeemur Rehman, former Chairman, Economics Department, University of Peshawar, while talking to APP.

Dr Naeem, while citing a report from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), which uses employment data from 2001–02 to 2020–21, said that the unemployment rate for graduates in 2020–21 had increased to 16.1% as compared to 14.9% in 2018–19, while the unemployment rate for engineers had doubled from 11% to 23.5% in two years.

Similarly, the unemployment rate for computer science graduates has jumped from 14.2% to 22.6% in just two years, while the unemployment rate of agriculture science graduates grew from 11.4% to 29.4% during the said period.

He said the gap between the rate of overall unemployment (6.3 percent) and that of graduates (16.1 percent) is almost 10-percentage- point wide, and the misalignment between demand and supply of graduates largely contributed to the higher unemployment rate among graduates in Pakistan.

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