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Misguided youth

On Wednesday I am presenting a couple of workshops at the annual conference for Career and Transition Educators (CATE) in Rotorua. I have been thinking how important their role is in guiding our kids to the next stage in their experience of life.

I left high school in 1979 and the process was simple. “What is your best subject?”, “Art”, …”Well you should either go to a technical college and learn graphic design, university to study painting or if you want to start working straight away, then perhaps an apprenticeship with a sign writer….NEXT”.

So, naturally I took a full-time job in the plastics factory where I had been working part-time. I guess that was the true meaning of misguided youth.

My own son is in high school and will soon be facing similar choices (though his will not include the option to leave the education system at all). I wondered how different the process had become in the 21st Century and began contacting career guidance people and speaking at high schools. My impression is that it is harder now than ever to know what to do with your life – in part because the choices are greater and more of the decision is left to the kids.

As an evangelist for growing the Creative Economy I believe that education and the development of attitudes that will bring forward bright, focussed, collaborative, inquisitive and flexible people is essential.  
Put flexible and collaborative at the top of the list.
The speed of change in global markets means that flat-footed individuals or those with dogmatic attitudes will be dog tucker. And, my personal hobbyhorse, collaboration and the ability to cross-pollinate are utterly crucial. None of us is as smart as all of us, to borrow a phrase. (My first column in Idealog introduced this thought, and I want to talk more about it).

There has been a lot of comment on the attitudes of Generation Y, not all of it flattering. But regardless of generalisations and punditry they, and their successors will be making choices now that will affect the shape of New Zealand’s culture and economy for the future and the much maligned career advisors can make a significant contribution to the outcome. That’s why I’m offering them my support.

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