Exploring early professional careers: Myths, realities, and benefits
The traditional Indian system of early professional careers is seen as a solution to improve employability for fresh graduates, offering benefits like early career focus, practical experience, and financial support for education.
Many centuries ago, ancient India witnessed several societies in which the education system and professional expertise had excelled together. For instance, consider the traditional Ayurveda practice, in which the new entrants used to join the existing practitioners, without any formal training; after a period of time, they used to practice Ayurveda through "learning while doing" methodology, under the guidance of a Guru (teacher).
Even today, similar systems can be observed in various fields, such as agriculture and traditional crafts. The gap between acquiring the knowledge required and implementing it in the relevant field is significantly reduced as knowledge is upgraded at regular intervals, on a day-to-day basis.
Dr YVK Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor, BITS Pilani Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP) has shared his views on the early myths and reality while getting into a professional career.
CHALLENGES WITH EMPLOYABILITY
The technological revolution, on the other hand, has been facing major challenges in getting fresh graduates to address the demands of ever-changing industry requirements, as some of them may not be skilled enough.
The education system is also facing significant challenges in terms of getting qualified, experienced, and committed faculty, which in turn is affecting the quality of education, thereby leading to the not-so-great employability of the graduates.
KEY CHANGES IN EDUCATION POLICY
Lawmakers have started making some positive changes in the education system in recent times to address such challenges. The National Education Policy of the Government of India suggests more flexibility and autonomy in this direction, with more practical experience or exposure in the relevant field during graduation being made compulsory.
Various reports and studies have also revealed that the major problem that the industry is facing today is that many of the fresh graduates are not employable, as they lack key technical and communication skills.
HOW TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?
To address this particular challenge, policies suggest that internships should be made compulsory as part of the curriculum. Regular industrial visits, industrial internships as part of the curriculum, and guest talks by the experts are some of the key measures implemented to help make graduates more employable.
EARLY PROFESSIONAL CAREERS AND CONCERNS
While the positive changes in the education system do help to a certain extent, could the ancient education system of starting professional careers early and upgrading skills as per the needs of the working environment provide even more concrete solutions (that can help address low employability)?
Well, before we look at a few of the merits of this system, there are some key concerns from various groups of society with respect to fresh graduates having early professional careers.
BENEFITS OF HAVING EARLY PROFESSIONAL CAREERS
Zero in on specific career paths early
Starting careers right after graduation helps them to choose specific career paths early as per their interest and thereby change them quite early too, depending on their realisation of what fits them well. This could potentially help them set larger goals in their professional careers.
Hands-on experience and exposure to real challenges
This helps them acquire more practical knowledge and exposure to real challenges in the industry. With many organisations having robust Learning & Development (L&D) plans for their professionals and peer-learning ecosystem, they also get opportunities to work with experienced working professionals with diverse knowledge, who can mentor or train them in terms of dealing with real challenges and opportunities in the industry.
Ability to address financial challenges
For various sections of society, access to high-quality education may not be that affordable, considering the financial constraints. Starting professional careers early helps them address this challenge, as they can invest a part of their earnings in learning as well.