Youth voice – What happens next?

It’s that time of the year! If you are in your last year of school, you are bound to be asked the following question, every day from now until the end of the year – “what are you doing once you leave school?” 

The transition from high school to higher education, vocational training or work is a significant milestone in every young person’s life. It is a period filled with excitement, curiosity, and, for many, uncertainty. It marks a pivotal moment where one must decide from a myriad of options – “what will be my future direction?”

I remember the dread of being asked this very question and giving a rather dull answer, which involved “I’m not sure”, or ‘falling back on the family trade’ to at least provide some sort of conversational stimulant! 

It was on the last day of university enrolments that I submitted my form with great hesitancy. First semester in, I was ready to chuck in the towel, however I decided to keep at it, and four years later I got the fancy piece of paper and today I can say I have no regrets.

As youth stand at this crossroads of possibilities, some may have a clear vision of their future, fueled by long-held passions and aspirations, whereas others may be in an overwhelmed state like my high schooling self. Empowering youth to make informed decisions about their study or work options is crucial to ensuring a fulfilling future.

One of the first steps in this journey is to recognise that one size does not fit all. Each individual possesses unique talents, interests, and aspirations. Therefore, young people should take the time to introspect and understand their passions, strengths, and long-term goals. Self-assessment tools, career counseling, and discussions with mentors or teachers can help gain clarity on preferences.

Furthermore, exploring various study options is essential in making well-informed decisions. Higher education offers an array of choices, including traditional university degrees, online courses, and vocational training to prepare for a dynamic and ever-changing job market. While passion is vital, and I would suggest it should be a primary driver; it should also be balanced with a realistic outlook on the job prospects and potential career pathways in a chosen field.

However, it is reassuring to remember that selecting a study or work option does not have to be a lifelong commitment. One job or course may be a launchpad to a new opportunity or career field and many successful individuals have changed career paths or returned to education later in life. Flexibility and adaptability are key traits that can serve young people well throughout their post-school journeys. 

Lastly, this piece would not be complete without a salutation to our unsung heroes – our teachers – who work with tremendous dedication to help nurture and develop the younger generation.