Turning Passions into Lucrative Careers

The obsession with grades and marks defeats the purpose of education. School education is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Here’s our conversation with Mr. Ganesh Kohli on how high schools, teachers, and parents can help students make better decisions about higher education and careers.

How can industry and academia collaborate to improve K-12 education? What is your involvement in this space?

The knowledge gained in schools is supposed to excite young people about the possibilities of contributing meaningfully to the world beyond.

  • By 2030, an estimated 825 million youth in low and middle-income nations and 260 million in India alone – will leave school without the skills needed for the modern workforce. 
  • This global crisis of unprepared youth has significant negative implications for colleges, universities, and industry. 
  • According to the World Economic Forum, this gap could cost the global GDP USD$11.5 trillion by 2028. 

Industry and academia need to urgently collaborate to promote skill-based learning in schools. We also need to provide short-term internships and summer jobs to students in grades 9-12, so they can see the application of academic knowledge in the real world of work. 

At IC3, through the Annual Conference and Regional Forums, we regularly engage counsellors and industry professionals for collaborative dialogue on issues that drive student success. We also bring industry practitioners as volunteer faculty for the IC3 Institute flagship one-year program that trains full-time employees from high schools to become career counsellors at no cost. They can gain first-hand knowledge of how to help students bridge the skill gap.

Glimpses from an IC3 event in Mumbai.

What is a ‘best-fit’ career? How can parents support students in their decision-making journey?

The concept of a best-fit career has changed from one that provided the best economic opportunities to one that provides joy and purpose for a lifetime. Too much untapped potential has been sacrificed at the altar of parental expectations and lack of information on careers, leading to grumpy 35-year-olds on Monday mornings. 

The world is changing, old career options are now becoming redundant, and new careers are being created every day. No longer is it impossible to turn your interests and passions into a lucrative career. 

Technological advancements and Artificial Intelligence have given rise to careers we couldn’t have imagined 4-5 years ago. An urgent shift in the thought process of parents as well as schools, along with an awareness about the scope of new careers is needed. Who is going to help the youth navigate this journey, if not parents and teachers?  

What are the leadership opportunities for students in a world where inclusion and environmental sustainability are key concerns? 

If the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are truly going to save our planet and bring equality to our global society, educators must be aware of the SDGs and how to contextualise that knowledge for their students. Many jobs of the future will stem from the need for Sustainable Development professionals. The fields of human and social development are going to witness growth, with volunteerism and social work becoming important on resumes. 

The best counselling and admissions practises should provide students with an awareness of the pathways they can take to make a difference to the world, find rewarding university experiences, and have successful careers. 

Through the IC3 Sustainable Development Committee,, IC3 regularly connects high schoolers with experts from leading public and private organisations of the development sector, career counsellors, and other students from different parts of India who are actively embracing the challenges set out in the UN SDGs. 

Students participating in an IC3 event.

What are the core skill sets or mindsets that the youth must possess in the uncertain post-pandemic world, especially in virtual and remote settings?

According to the Future of Jobs Survey 2020, employers will prioritise the following skills by 2025: 

  • Analytical Thinking
  • Active Learning Strategies
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Leadership & Social Influence
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Creativity & Originality
  • Reasoning & Ideation

The learning potential of the post-pandemic world is ten times what it was pre-pandemic. At this time, students need to focus on treating every situation as a learning opportunity or a classroom lesson. 

Like all of us, the past year has forced students to adapt and remain flexible to the quickly changing reality. This is the time to build skills like mindfulness, resilience, and courage. These qualities will hold in good stead throughout their lives. 

Students must continue to engage in all virtual activities just like they would in a physical set up – maintaining a routine, taking a shower and dressing up to attend virtual classes, keeping their cameras on, and interacting with teachers and classmates.

With the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, India is embarking on a future-oriented education system. How can we ensure child-centric implementation?

The key will be in assessing feedback received in the first phase of implementation and the ability to be nimble with the feedback. The NEP requires adaptability, not just from students but also from the educators. 

It is important to focus on bringing joy and practicality to the learning experience in the classroom. All the stakeholders of the education landscape will need to work on their old conditioning where education was about “being serious.” We need students to move from boredom to context-based learning, which will help them make career choices that solve the problems of the future. 

*These photographs were taken before the COVID-19 outbreak in India. During the pandemic, IC3’s work has continued through online engagements. 

The full interview appeared in the July 2021 edition of The Plus magazine. 

About the contributor: 

Ganesh Kohli is a teacher, counsellor, entrepreneur, and life-long learner who has founded, nurtured, and led multiple education-focused organisations over the past 24 years.In his professional journey, he has visited 450+ universities across the world, personally guiding 4000+ students in making decisions about their higher education. With the vision of “counselling in every school”, Ganesh founded the International College & Career Counselling (IC3) Movement, which has reached 90+ countries and has 300+ volunteers across the globe.

Apply Now