Saturday, 7 October 2017

Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. The Growing relevance of Psychometrics in Academics.

‘So you’re in high school now! Have you decided what you want to be?’ ‘Will you take Science or Commerce?’ How often have you heard this not only from folks at home but from your neighbours and even the Aunty down the street! With a mind-boggling range of careers available, one would think it is easier to arrive at career choices right? Not so. Add to this the rapidly changing work environment that we are witnessing.
In this age of the 4th Industrial revolution, careers are no longer linear in character, they have become fragmented, collaborative and more complex. The perception that with a degree in hand, everything else will fall into place is archaic. Today we see so many people making multiple career shifts before they touch 35 . My Dad for instance worked at the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company  for close to 40 years. My generation saw 4 to 5 career shifts before reaching 40 years of age and I now see the younger lot, shifting 2 to 3 times while still in the 20s . The challenge is not only to find a job that one enjoys but to be able to stay in it should you want to.

'The Times they are a changing’ Mr. Bob Dylan says. The World economic forum in their Future of Jobs publication talks about how todays in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 5 years ago. This pace of change is set to accelerate. 5 years is not a long time . The Dubai Govt  is already working on plans to be ready for this new ‘smart economy’ in all sectors. For those of us who have children entering high school, the work landscape that our children will step out to will be so different to what it is now. We must be able to anticipate future skill requirements and know where their strengths lie outside of academics. Schools must step up their game to ensure adequate career/academic counselling for every student irrespective of their academic progress. A comprehensive  guidance of mapping the students profile with the anticipated skill requirements of not only current careers but emerging ones as well  will go a long way in making informed choices.

Psychometric assessments is increasingly being regarded as an essential tool in  career guidance programs. They are effective in revealing aspects of a ones aptitude, interest or personality in a statistically valid and quantifiable manner. Self-evaluation using scientific methods . The  battery of tests will indicate areas of strengths and can point one to best fits in terms of career possibilities. In today’s times it is imperative to identify our potential to learn, our inherent skills and yes our challenges  also. Using only test scores to decide careers is not recommended.

Going back to the ‘great puzzle’, Let’s look at our typical teen in high school.
They are bombarded with tests, projects, homework (from school & tuitions) pressured to enroll in co- curricular activities, volunteer etc. The alternate world of SM(Social Media) urging one to connect, comment and critique takes up a lot of time.  Add to that the chemical transformation happening within themselves. Physically and mentally our teens have a lot on their plate.  To top things off we expect them to have the perfect answers to ‘Who am I? What would I like to do/be? Will I be successful?  Que Sera Sera I hear you say? It’s should never be what will be, will be. The more prepared we are, the ‘readier’ we will be to make intelligent choices among the myriad opportunities lying ahead. Let’s help prepare our children for this turbulent 21st century. Recognise that our children are very different from us and growing in different times.  Explore options together, listen to their opinions, learn some of their jargon and most important, continue asking them questions that encourages them to introspect. Please don’t judge them based on test scores at school. In the bigger scheme of things, they don’t matter. Encourage them to pursue co-curricular activities that they are interested in for the pure passion of it. Very often it leads to exciting new avenues.

With all the deadlines from school it is easy to let the conversation slip especially if both parents are also working.  But here’s an easy way to look at it and an approach that has worked for me with my 2 and for all the students that comes to us at Varsity Connections.  Come 9th or 10th grade depending on the curriculum, you will be faced with filling out the subject options slip which will indicate what subjects your child will be taking at high school. There are many things to consider here and the biggie is the fact that the school has a cut off score for STEM subjects. We cannot do anything about that policy.  Work backwards.  Use psychometrics and academic progress to help your child identify potential careers it can be 1 , 2 or even 3 potential areas.  Then look at the University programs that will facilitate progress to those potential career clusters. Understand what the prerequisite subjects (if any) that the student has to take at high school. It then becomes easy to tick those option boxes sent from the school.
For those children who have already decided (as early as the 9th grade) what they want to be either by themselves or with help from their parents, Psychometrics is a great tool to understand if their choice is a realistic one. For the majority who are confused, wont this be the perfect way to move forward? An unbiased scientific method to discover who you are.

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