By Effrosyni Parampota
How QCDC is empowering youth to grow
Young people today are dealing with a number of major challenges, especially following the outbreak of Covid-19. The International Labor Organisation (ILO) released a global survey in August 2020, reporting that “the impact of the pandemic on youth is systematic, deep and disproportionate. Young people are concerned about the future and their place within it.”
Qatar proved resilient long before the pandemic emerged, due to its response to the unjustified blockade posed by our neighbors. However, young adults nowadays are more uncertain about their careers and employment prospects.
Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC) – a member of Qatar Foundation – is committed to university students’ employability – a key theme in our research activities that are part of our Career Guidance Stakeholders Platform Focus Groups – and through workshops and initiatives delivered in collaboration with academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.
In our Career Café, we recently discussed the effects of the pandemic with a panel of students and alumni, their expectations and views of career services – especially during and post-Covid-19 – and the changes they would like to see. We also ran a set of workshops for graduate students at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s College of Islamic Studies, aiming to strengthen the importance and provision of career guidance services.
The findings from the session were alarming, revealing that the key themes derived from the research projects we’ve been conducting since 2015 are still very real. These include a lack of nationwide career guidance provision; limited career awareness and guidance culture; poor awareness of, and access to, career services among graduate students; and the absence of a 15-year labour market growth projection for educators and employers; as well as increasing and diversifying female employment.
Both national and international students agreed that career guidance services are critical today, as they contemplate their future steps and consider the emerging labor market situation. Building important skills and adopting a lifelong learning approach add immense value.
However, many students in Qatar consider continuing their education simply to postpone dealing with employment challenges. But is a Master’s degree or PhD the remedy? Like any big decision in life, it requires a fair amount of reflection on the reasons a person should invest in themselves.
According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), graduate studies can heighten the potential for salary increases and accelerate career prospects while allowing people to following their passions, although such an investment might lead to more debt and could end up being a waste of time. With a plethora of resources available online and the opportunities for micro-certification, young adults can continue building their knowledge and skills for much less.
When we graduate from university and look for employment, having a degree is only the starting point. Lifelong learning and continuous upskilling will support our capacity to adapt and survive far into the future. To find employment in an over-competitive market, adopting smart steps to increase resume potential is essential, and so is the power of active networking.
Most people associate life transitions as a time of confusion, loss, insecurity and uncertainty. Reflecting on past experiences, future dreams, and current values or strengths is an essential and valuable step. Once we are armed with more self-knowledge, the plan-and-implementation method urges us into action.
And this is when qualified career advisors and counselors become important – those who are equipped to assist individuals in planning their career paths and provide advice and guidance services, as well as to promote clients’ independency and self-management of their skills gradually.
With career guidance support, clients will learn about their interests and skills, match them with professions and industries, select a career, and develop a strategy for getting there, test the market, and network with people in the field they are interested in, learning the ins and outs of the work.
While most universities offer career services to their students, in May 2020 QCDC launched its Virtual Career Advising Sessions, enabling students impacted by the pandemic to receive advice from experts on how to better plan their future and discuss career paths and directions. The sessions are currently offered in English, with Arabic sessions commencing at the end of the year, complemented by a mentoring program for professionals interested in strengthening their career guidance experience.
The sessions will empower youth to take the first step in a long journey that will foster their personal and professional development and cultivate employability skills in university students.
*Mrs Effrosyni Dimitrios Parampota holds the position of Senior Officer Career Programs & Services at Qatar Career Development Center, a member of Qatar Foundation, that supports Qatari capacity building in alignment with the QNV 2030 and the aims of a knowledge-based economy. Her work focuses in developing impactful projects, producing literature based on research, and fostering strategic partnerships locally and abroad, that enrich and support career planning practices, as well as influence policymaking within Qatar.
Effrosyni is an accredited career development professional by NCDA and CCE, a professional member of IAEVG, APCDA, NCDA, CDI, the Institute of Leadership & Management, and a former member of the APCDA Research Committee. She has also served in the technical committees of four national forums on career guidance. She is a candidate of INSEAD graduate program and a Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education alumni.
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