Career clustering can help your child navigate post-school choices - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Career clustering can help your child navigate post-school choices

16 Apr 2020

Our ability to earn an income is one of our greatest assets, and while choosing a career has never been easy, it’s even more complicated these days. Going on to higher education is one of many post-school choices that young people have.

An investment into your future

Higher education has sometimes been referred to as an ‘investment in self’—being an investment in one’s ability to earn an income and create a career in a chosen occupation. Investments are different from the everyday purchases we make. An investment is a purchase that we make today that will generate future benefits. In the case of a higher education investment, these benefits may include higher incomes, job security or good working conditions.

Occupational hyperchoice

Career planning in the 21st century is quite different from that of the past. Making career decisions today is increasingly complex with more occupations to choose from than ever before. What makes this even more challenging is to talk about how work in the future will be different due to technological advances, such as automation and artificial intelligence.

Research tells us that having too many choices changes how we make decisions. Formally known as occupational hyperchoice, young people today are overwhelmed by the sheer number of careers from which they have to choose. Career information overload is common too. As a result, some young people are shortcutting the decision-making process by picking whatever occupation is top-of-mind at that point in time, delaying the decision in the hope that it will go away, or not making a decision at all out of pure exhaustion and confusion.

Break it up into clusters

Career clustering is one way that parents can help their child make an informed decision. One highly recommended resource is from the Foundation of Young Australians (FYA). The FYA New Work Mindset report used big data to reveal seven job clusters to help young people, and their parents, navigate their career decisions. These job clusters are groupings of occupations where the skills needed are closely related. So, skills acquired for one occupation are portable. If work opportunities in one occupation in the cluster should change, a person’s skills could be transferred to another occupation in the same cluster. For many, this will come as a welcome relief. The FYA report is easy to read and free to download. There is also a useful infographic of their seven new job clusters which include:

  • The Artisans—jobs that require skill in manual tasks related to construction, production, maintenance or technical customer services.
  • The Designers—jobs that involve deploying skills and knowledge of science, mathematics and design to construct or engineer products or buildings.
  • The Technologists—jobs that require skilled understanding and manipulation of digital technology.
  • The Carers—jobs that seek to improve the mental or physical health or well-being of others, including medical, care and personal support services.
  • The Informers—jobs that involve professionals providing information, education or business services.
  • The Coordinators—jobs that involve repetitive administrative and behind-the-scenes process or service tasks.
  • The Generators—jobs that require a high level of interpersonal interaction in retail, sales, hospitality and entertainment.

A young person’s attempts to shortcut career decisions or avoid career conversations with their parents may be a response to 21st-century occupational hyperchoice. The FYA seven new job clusters may be a helpful tool for parents to start, or re-start, career conversations with their children.

For more information about Professor Raciti’s research into how young people make career decisions, go to:

About Professor Maria Raciti

Professor Maria Raciti is a Professor of Marketing at USC, Director of the Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre, an Adjunct Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education and was part of an Australian Government departmental taskforce assisting with the 2019 National Regional Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy.

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