Many years ago when I was at school, we didn’t have any opportunity to do an internship in an enterprise in order to find out what work was all about. We had some one-day visits; I can vaguely remember a soap factory, a coal mine and a newspaper as being subjects of one-day class trips.
Whilst this gave some superficial idea of work environments, it wasn’t until university that real, immersed, involvement in work happened and by then, the die was cast because choices had been made on which particular course to follow.
In a northern European environment in those far back days, it was expected that a career choice would be made at age 16 or 18 and that you would stay unswervingly on that path for the next 50 years.
One of the more attractive things about the American system at the time was that it was considered fairly normal to change career paths, possibly several times during the course of a working life.
Well, things have changed, work patterns have changed remarkably and the realization has come that not everybody is equipped to make life decisions in their mid-teens on the basis of scant information in a work environment, which focuses on the life career and a lifetime of working as an employee.
So now we have on-the-job training at high school where those in their mid-teens have to find themselves some form of internship for few weeks in order to be better informed about what work is really like, and hopefully make better quality decisions about which direction they need to be trained for to make their contribution to society.
In the Philippines of today, it is not easy for young people to find opportunities for on-the-job training. Employers would see it as an inconvenience having strangers in the organization who need to be allowed to perform certain tasks and, to a point, educated as to what is going on and what the company or business is all about.
So those who are kind enough to take these young people into their businesses for a couple of weeks are to be commended, more so in the Philippines than in other places where there are plenty of jobs and a need for all sorts of help.
The days of loyalty to the company and the converse, the loyalty of the company to the individual are gone. People entering the employment market these days do not expect to stay very long at their first job, nor for that matter their second, third or fourth jobs, they “pass through” seeking their own personal gratification.
At least they do in the advanced economies. In the less developed economies they do not have the luxury of putting their own personal desires such as: “Do I like the way the office is laid out?” “Do I like the food in the canteen?” “Can I work from home when I feel like it?” “Can a father have paternity leave?” ahead of the need to earn a reliable income, or for that matter getting any income at all!
In an economy where it is often quite difficult to work out how many of the people actually make a living and afford the lifestyles that they operate, because despite the high levels of poverty and unemployment there still appears to be an ever-increasing number of new cars on the road and the shopping malls are well patronized. So clearly some people are doing okay and there are not too many clear signposts around as to what educational skills should be acquired for a secure future.
There are so many “businessmen” around who always seem to be doing fine, but I do wonder what they do . . .
Mike can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.