Friday, April 19, 2024

LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Career planning


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Like other markets, the job market is going through dramatic changes. It is becoming harder and harder to get the “right” job and to keep it.
Some employees no longer plan their entire career around one employer, but are more willing to explore other employers or jobs. These and other trends have placed specific pressures on the entire career process.
In planning their careers, employees need to count the costs and measure the returns that may be generated. This article explores some of these issues.
Just a generation ago, the career of popular choice was in the Civil Service. The pay was good, there were training opportunities, promotion within the service was possible and the job was secure.
Over the years, the confidence in a Civil Service career has been eroded. Some Civil Service jobs were made redundant; job benefits were curtailed; study leave is rationed sparingly in some sections; during the early 1990s economic downturn, all civil servants suffered a reduction of pay (the famous eight per cent cut) and other career-daunting trends are apparent.
It is therefore not surprising that the young generation today takes a closer look at the private sector for possible employment. The biggest difference with the private sector is that keeping the job is not as likely as in the public sector.  
However, Government has, in more recent years, implemented a massive public sector reform programme that attempts to address weaknesses in getting real value from public officers. Government is demanding an adequate return for the pay provided.
These trends point to the need for employees to look at their careers in a different light. Your career should be considered like a service business that you manage and market in order to maximise the returns to you. Returns may be measured in a number of ways. Yet, with the overall diminishing job security, wherever you may choose to work, a long-term perspective is more and more paramount.
 It is already very difficult for secondary school graduates with a full slate of ordinary and advanced level passes in various subjects to find a job.  In fact, some university graduates have been forced to take jobs that do not require their tertiary training, just to get into the job market. No longer will the cost of establishing your career be incurred mainly before you start your first job. There will be continuing career costs in terms of continuous training and development if you intend to stay in the work force.  
That brings us to the crux of the matter: these are the days when everyone will have to reframe ideas about career planning. Your career will be one of your most important investments. When you have this original investment planned and controlled, only then you can look to other investing.
The major costs of establishing a career include school fees, boarding and lodging and any related interest cost. Typically, most adults in Barbados have their primary and secondary education sponsored by the Government and their parents.
It is also possible to attend tertiary institutions in Barbados at relatively low costs. The Government has provided virtually free education at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Barbados Community College and the University of the West Indies. For those students who wish to attend foreign tertiary institutions, the cost can be high.   
Next week, we’ll consider the funding options and the return on investment issues.


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