Our youth need support, not a kick
This week I met with John who was beside himself about his son Adam. Adam left school at age 16 and now age 18 hadn't been doing a great deal 'according to Dad'. Not lifting his weight. Doesn't have any goals or direction. Just grunts, eats and sleeps. "He needs someone to tell him what do with his life" were Dads words. Apparently he didn't follow the advice of his Careers Advisor at school, he didn't attend information days and wasn't keen to study.
We booked Adam in for a career consultation. He was intelligent, articulate, and well presented. He had held down a job since leaving school, working at Bunnings. He doesn't know what he wants to do "when he grows up". My task for the day was to sort him out and give him some direction, according to Dad.
Yet when I spoke with Adam he had already experienced some major changes in life, including leaving the only environment he had known, an environment where he felt he didn't fit - high school!
Adam was quite happy working at Bunnings, and quite happy living at home. He had found his niche and had really settled in. He gained his licence and saved up to buy his own car. He pays board and contributes at home. He's developed a network of colleagues and friends at work and built up an impressive knowledge of the products and services offered at Bunnings. I asked why he left school. He told me he had started an apprenticeship, but it wasn't what he imagined and he quickly left that job and moved into his current role.
Celebrate our working youth, no matter the role
I asked if he would like to apply for other roles. "Yeah, maybe". So we starting redesigning his resume, so he can put himself out there for other opportunities. Meanwhile, he shared that he is quite happy working where he is and feels pushed by his family to pursue bigger goals.
Sometimes our youth need support to just be..........just be where they are......for now. It's all great to be pursuing high flying corporate goals and committing to tertiary education, but that's not for everyone. What's important is to ensure the job you have NOW gives you purpose; your work environment is positive; and you are doing something fruitful with the money you earn. We don't always leave school and automatically decide on the career we want to pursue. This can take years! And sometimes throughout the course of our life and our career, we finally make that choice, change our mind and change our course!
I have lost count of the number of clients who have no clue what they want to do in their 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. Yes, that's right. They get shoved into a career that their parents insisted was right for them "back in the day", and that's where they've stayed. Meanwhile they always had a secret desire to work in a blue collar role as a Gardener, Retail Sales Assistant, Labourer or Warehousing Assistant or a field which is their passion, but doesn't necessarily tick the 'career' boxes.
Young people like Adam should be celebrated for having a job, paying their way and contributing. We really need to start supporting them and stop trying to mould them into what we think is right for them. Build them up. Teach them about transferable skills, so they are always aware they can digress into other career paths and roles. At age 18 if they are gainfully employed and getting by, there is no need to put the pressure on. Like the title says, our youth need support, not a kick.
* Names and other details have been changed
* Photo is a stock image