At Last! The Secret to Helping Young People Choose a Career Path is Revealed

Having worked in Human Resources, as a Recruitment Consultant for more than 25 years, I have seen time and again just how difficult it is for graduates to stick to their chosen field of study.  As a mother to four teenagers, I’ve experienced first-hand how stressful it is for a school leaver needing to choose a career path and step into the big wide world of work. The last of our four teenagers will soon be writing her mid-year examination and before we can say “Jack-Sprat” she will be into Matric Trials and Finals.  And then what…?

Having gone through this exercise previously with our three older teens, the following process is the norm.  They completed an aptitude test in Grade 9 to aid in subject selection, from where they were channelled in a “field of study”, to which was ascribed a myriad of occupations (most of which they did not even know existed, and even more that never even appeared on the sheet).  They attended career days and in some cases were even paid a visit by all manner of “institutional cheerleaders” eager to land a fresh batch of students for the new academic year.

In my experience, all this contributes precious little to the actual process of choosing a career path.  Let’s face it, who at the age of 15 and 16 truly knows themselves well enough to have their path mapped out with precision.


I will keep it simple by sharing these 4 Pillars with you and as you read each paragraph, apply the statement to yourself and your environment:


Pillar One: Persona

This is all about you – your personality and behaviour, your likes and dislikes and your strengths and weaknesses.  Ask yourself whether you are the one that people come to for advice, or are you the one that cheers people up, makes them laugh or takes the lead in discussions.  Are you energetic or more laid back?  Are you a night-owl or an early-bird? Are you organised or messy? You get the point.  If you are still not sure, ask your family or teachers how they see you.  I’m sure they won’t hesitate to share their thoughts with you.

Pillar Two:  Preference

This section is about the choices you tend to make for instance: do you spend hours on your own working on a hobby, or do you prefer activities that require team work. Do you like solo or team sports?  Are you fascinated by science and data or do colours, textures or words light you up?  Do you use your hands to build or create something from nothing, or do you prefer working with facts and figures to find a solution?  If you have been honest with yourself upto this point, then you’ve made good progress.   Keep reading…

Pillar Three:  Potential

This is the time to be completely honest with yourself.  Sometimes our potential to achieve a certain goal is affected by external factors like financial constraints, access to resources such as laptops, data, or transport. Our physical health and mental aptitudes also play a part in determining our potential.  There’s no point in applying for an internship in Port Elizabeth if you currently live in East London and don’t have genuinely sustainable access to accommodation for the duration of the programme.  We can’t all be doctors, but maybe we can find a career that speaks to our healing nature, like a Community Social Worker or a Registered Nurse.  Not everyone can be Elon Musk, but you can put your mechano-building, PC motherboard-stripping talents to use in a career in electrical engineering.  It’s about using your home ground advantage and talking to mentors and people in your network who can offer guidance on career choices or even opportunities for employment, especially if they can see that you are eager to work (even if this means working for the minimum wage to get a foot in the door).  Remember, we all must start somewhere.  Start from as young an age as possible and remember to list these “jobs” on your CV – they count aplenty when you don’t have much work “formal” work experience to show.

Pillar Four:  Perspective.

Back to the discussion I had with my daughter around the topic of University applications and an infographic that I penned back in 2018 about the new job opportunities that living in the 4IR matrix will create.  Back in 2018, there was no such job as a Social Media Marketing Manager or a Solar and Wind Energy Technician!  There was talk of needing Drone Pilots and 3-D Print Product Designers, Swarm-Bot Tech’s, and Crypto-Product Managers in 2025.  Guess what?  These jobs already exist thanks to the warp speed process.


The relationship between occupations and skills important to note.

A skill is the ability to carry out the tasks and duties of a given job (ILO, 2004)

An occupation is a set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterised by a high degree of similarity (DHET, 2016)

So what skills are required for the types of occupations that society will need going forward to 2030?

  • Communication Skills – both written and spoken language and good grammar. Consider how much we use email and the internet to talk to people.
  • Critical Thinking Abilities – Logical, Mathematical, Analytic and Systematical.
  • Creativity and Imagination – Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
  • Empathy and Compassion – think about the patience that Educators require to teach their learners online.
  • The 4 Q’s – Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient, Agility Quotient and Spirituality Quotient.  If you’ve never heard of these before, look them up!

Before I share an overview of the occupations that show acute signs of shortages in skills in the near future, I want to highlight the types of occupations that have shown a decline in demand (on account of CoVid and the 4IR):

  • Jobs in the Accommodation and Food Services Sector
  • The Construction, Manufacturing, and Mining Sectors, also
  • Gym personnel and personal trainers, jobs in personal services, real estate, and administrative activities like short term insurance companies. Nowadays we use Apps to record our home exercise programmes and chatbots are the first line of interaction when calling for a quotation on our car.

Sectors showing an uptick in jobs are those in Agriculture, Fishing, and Forestry.  Jobs in the Wholesale and Retail of necessity goods have also recovered.

For those of you born post-circa 2000 AD, you need to set your sights on a career path that satisfies your personal 4 P’s and then take a long-term view.

Below are a few spheres of work/qualifications that are popular and useful in 2021 and that will be relevant in the foreseeable future.  Under each one I’ve listed a few occupations that relate to the qualification – hope these help:

Field Human Resources:

  • Human Resources (Data Analyst, HR Practitioner, Training, Learning and Development, Wellness Manager)
  • Industrial Relation Officer
  • Skills Development Facilitator/Assessor

Field of Computer Science / IT Communications:

  • Multimedia Designer / Web Designer
  • ICT Systems Analyst/ Data Scientist/ Programmer Analyst/ Developer Programmer (Python, C#, SQL)
  • AML Surveillance Officer

Field of Engineering:

  • Architect
  • Civil Engineer
  • Water Quality Analyst
  • Robotics Engineer and Technician
  • Drone Pilot

Field of Health Sciences:

  • Health Science Careers: Pharmacist, Doctor, Registered Nurse (Child and Family Health, and Mental Health), Radiologist, Phlebotomist, Midwife, Paramedic, DNA Geneticist, Counselling Psychologist
  • Medical and Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Trade Qualifications / Vocational Work:

  • Artisan (Millwright, Mechatronic Technician, Plumber, Electrician, Boilermaker, Carpenter)
  • Hairdresser, Catering Manager

Field of Education:

  • Teacher, Counsellor, Pre-primary Assistant
  • University or TVET Lecturer

Field of Art and Design:

  • Digital Artist / Illustrator

Field of Business / Finance / Law:

  • Compliance Officer
  • Fraud Examiner
  • Cleaning Services Manager

Field of Science & Technology:

  • Crop Produce Analysts
  • Geologist /Agronomist/Oceanographers/Farm Manager
  • Health and Safety Manager
  • Food and Beverage Scientist
  • Meteorology and Climate Control
  • Dockmaster/Tug Boat Pilot

Field of Marketing and Sales:

  • Industrial Products Sales representative
  • Chemical Sales Representative
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Call or Contact Centre manager

Field of Logistics:

  • Supply and Distribution (Motorcycle and Motor Vehicle Driver, Material Handler, Warehouse Assistant)
  • Freight Handler
  • Procurement Officer
  • Online, B2B and B2C Supply Chain Specialist. Ask Dr Google if you don’t know what these abbreviations are.


Mr Nzimande said this a few years ago, and it still applies today: “While it is good and well for those who choose to and are in fact accepted in Universities, our youth must start realising that our post-school education and training system offers far more options than just what our universities have traditionally offered. Public TVET Colleges in particular offer skills that are in line with the country’s growth and development imperatives. Even as we speak, our economy has a higher and more urgent demand for artisans, technicians, engineers and other scarce skills that can be sourced outside of universities.”

For further tips for job seekers at every level, click here.

For help on which job platform to use when job hunting, click here.

Reference your Infographic on Jobs 200 years ago, click here.

Reference sound clip one and two from Kingfisher FM, click here and here.

I’ve also found these two links that might be useful to you and a good starting point:

Written by:
Jeannine Dickie, Owner of Hire Power