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Matric

Follow your passion and get tech-savvy, experts say

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Though some say an international qualification is needed to get ahead, others say you can follow your passion without a degree and still be hugely successful.

There are many options. Suffice to say going to a local university isn’t the only one anymore.

“Many companies, especially international ones, are removing the need for a university degree as an entry criterion,” says Dr Graeme Codrington, the chief executive of TomorrowToday Global and an expert in the future of work. “For example, you can become a chartered accountant in the United Kingdom without a degree.”

He contends that matrics shouldn’t be asking themselves, “What degree should I study?” Instead, they should be pondering the skills and qualifications they need to pursue their passion.

“The concept of ikigai is useful here,” says Codrington. “It’s a Japanese model designed to help people find life fulfilment and looks at four interlocking areas – what am I good at, what do I enjoy doing, what can I get paid for, and what does the world need. The sweet spot is to find something where all four of these aspects overlap.”

Codrington says it’s crucial to be tech-savvy, no matter what career you choose. “Becoming a programmer or technology expert might be the very best way to ensure your employability in the future,” he says. “Not many of the world’s best programmers needed university degrees.”

Some old-school thinkers might still prefer to employ graduates. “This mindset is diminishing with each passing year,” says Codrington. “The advantage of thinking beyond university as the best, or even ‘only’ option is that you open a door to a massive new list of opportunities which might be much better suited to a young person’s skills, interests, capabilities, and budget.”

However, Liza Manoussis, the founder of Global Education, says, “If you have an international education and you apply to a company that has 300 applications, it’s going to put your application on the top because you’re bringing something it doesn’t have.”

COVID-19, the internet, and advances in technology have opened the doors to many new “mind-blowing” potential career paths, says Manoussis. “We’ve got something called pedagogical science – studying methods of teaching, gaming, and how minds acquire new information. There’s a Bachelor of Jurisprudence – combined law subjects with non-law subjects. We’ve got wireless microwave vacation engineering, and the list goes on.”

She says the overseas options available to students are “everything and anything”. “From hairdressing to medicine to whatever they want. They can do aircon refrigeration, which is vocational study.”

COVID-19 has shown people that you can stay at home and connect with others via digital meetings, says Codrington. “It has taught young people that they can do online education. This should have the effect of opening people’s minds to search for and complete more online training programmes. It will also mean that more online courses are available.”

Codrington is convinced that advances in technology won’t make any career disappear entirely. “Almost every career will be effected by automation, artificial intelligence – I prefer to refer to it as intelligent assistance – and algorithms. Certain tasks will be able to be done by machines. So, instead of being concerned about which careers will disappear or become obsolete, whatever your chosen career, focus on pushing your knowledge and experience to the technological edge of that field. Make sure you are comfortable with how technology will be integrated into your chosen field, and even be part of making this a reality.”

If you want to become a doctor, for example, Codrington suggests, “While you are studying, focus on doing electives and additional courses in medical robotics, software programming, or data analytics. All of these will be hugely valuable in your medical career, and might open doors to future-focused aspects of your chosen field. The same would be true if you are a lawyer, accountant, or plumber.”

Manoussis advises matriculants to choose a career path they’re passionate about. “Don’t be driven by how much money you are going to make. You can go to the best university and do a degree that you aren’t interested in, but how do you sell yourself? At the end of the day, you’ve got to get a job. If you can’t sell yourself in something you enjoy, you ain’t going to get anywhere.”

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