Enabling Career Guidance and Mentorship for Smooth School-to-Work Transition

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The integration of vocational and technical training within the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 marks a paradigm shift, emphasising the role of teachers as career counsellors and mentors, aiming to reflect 21st-century ideals in education. Yet, a persistent gap exists between the education system and the reality of employability, with the job landscape undergoing dramatic shifts in recent decades. India is on the brink of a significant transformation, especially in the fields of finance, technology, and telecommunications, with projections of a workforce shortage of 85.2 million skilled professionals in these key sectors by 2030.

Approximately 93% of India’s youth are aware of only seven career streams out of nearly 250 available in the Indian job market. A smooth school-to-work transition is being recognised as a critical challenge facing India’s education system today. In response to this concern, Career Guidance and Mentorship (CG&M) programmes emerge as a vital solution. The significance of career guidance is underscored by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and UN Education 4.0, aligning it with the contemporary educational discourse.

This perspective provides a deep-dive into the world of Career Guidance and Mentorship (CG&M) in India. The initial sections provide an in-depth exploration of the world of career guidance and mentorship, tracing its historical roots and examining its status quo in India. The subsequent sections shed light on the challenges in the field of career guidance and mentorship and the organisations and initiatives that are making significant strides in tackling those challenges. We also explore key differentiating factors of successful scalable solutions that have overcome these challenges to provide a comprehensive, end-to-end, technology-oriented career guidance and mentorship solution. These solutions focus on different stakeholders at various levels, aiming to create mindset shifts, build collaborations, and ensure the use of technology in programming.

Effective solutions emphasise the ‘4AQ’ principles–Accessibility, Affordability, Availability, and Awareness, all underpinned by Quality, creating a collaborative ecosystem with innovative solutions, and government initiatives that hold the potential to reshape career guidance in India. This calls for increased investment in establishing an open network for Career Guidance and Mentorship (CG&M). An open network holds the promise of addressing prevailing challenges associated with the rural-urban gap and gender stereotypes in career choices.

Such a network would facilitate enhanced outreach and collaboration among stakeholders, enabling the enrichment of content and facilitating the discovery of local career opportunities for students. Moreover, it would bridge the gap between remote/rural students and mentors/professionals across diverse fields, fostering the sharing and integration of hyperlocal career insights, particularly beneficial for girls. These initiatives, coupled with deliberate conversations on reshaping parental and educator roles, are pivotal in equipping the workforce with robust foundational skills and a clear pathway towards future careers.

Authors: Dr Shweta Gaur, Anantha Narayan, Siddharth Rout, Harshita Kumari and Sarayu Mathur.

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