Paridhi heads the ProTeen business with a focus on its global product vision, go-to-marketing strategy and B2C and B2B2C revenue channels. Paridhi has led the spin-out of the ProTeen research and product development initiative inside the UNIDEL group to build a company that is changing the way young adults make academic and career choices. Paridhi has a decade of experience spanning software product development, marketing and strategy across diverse sectors like Information Technology, Manufacturing, Automotive and Retail. Before joining ProTeen, Paridhi worked with global organizations like Infosys and Cummins. Paridhi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Institute of Technology & Management (ITM) and an MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Centre for Management & HR Development.
Career counselling has come a long way since its origin in 19th century America. Where this profession once exclusively focused on job placement advice, today, career guidance is doled out by counsellors using a complex blended model of subject matter expertise backed by predictive science. Technology has fueled this transformation, creating what we now refer to as a ‘phygital’ experience, aka fusing digital applications with physical in-person career counselling services. This evolution perfectly complements the ever-changing world of work, allowing students to explore both conventional and unconventional employment opportunities.
While promising talent is abundant nationwide, awareness for unconventional roles is only restricted to a few major cities and towns. Most students from tier 2 & 3 cities are unaware of the plethora of options the 21st-century landscape offers and end up subscribing to conventional career choices. Data backs up this troubling trend, with a report showing almost 93% of Indian students were aware of only 7 career options. This lack of knowledge is also widely prevalent among the students’ immediate milieu — parents or relatives who have an immense influence on these students’ career choices. Young adults are mostly coaxed into traditional professions like engineering, medicine, teaching, etc., without their interests and aptitudes being considered.
Government employment statistics also point to a skill mismatch between the youth of India and available careers. According to a 2020 Niti Aayog report, 90% of the labour force are engaged in informal employment, while much of the existing workforce suffer from poor education, insufficient skill development, and a complete lack of awareness about new-age career options. Unfortunately, a handful of tier 2 & 3 cities offer effective career counselling services with trained counsellors. Even where they exist, they are limited in number and restricted in the range of services they can offer.
The career counselling gap exists, and it is wide.
Spreading awareness of career counselling among tier 2 & 3 regions across India
The most effective way to combat this lack of knowledge is by increasing students’ accessibility to career counselling services. And students, too, are demanding this change. A 2021 IC3 Institute Student Quest Survey showed that around 82% of students consider that career counselling is imperative.
In the current context of pandemic-led employment changes, the need to counsel students from regional areas is more crucial than ever. The key is to take cognizance of the fact that career counselling is the bridge between education and work and is vitally relevant while choosing a career. Spreading hyperlocal awareness in tier 2 & 3 cities across India should thus include:
Active local partnerships: Presently, over 93% of schools around India, particularly in tier 2 & 3 cities, lack immediate access to high-quality career counselling services. Big-name counsellors and educational institutions partnering with local counsellors will help make career guidance a reality for every student. Such an approach can also draw upon the strengths of each partner, thereby leveraging existing infrastructure, knowledge banks, and operational efficiencies.
Context- and regional-specific service models: Studies show that adopting contextual cues and localizing career guidance have a better impact than simply using universal acultural designs. These insights indicate a need for career counselling services in regional languages to bridge the language barrier.
Widening access through innovative methods: India already has a high digital penetration rate, and the Eighth Edition of India Skills Report (2021) estimates uninterrupted internet access for more than a billion Indians by 2030. This makes the phygital approach a particularly efficient career counselling strategy, especially in tier 2 & 3 cities. Digital counselling combined with physical guidance can greatly extend accessibility to career counselling and increase its awareness among students and parents.
Predicted impact on the edtech sector
The edtech sector is expected to grow to US$ 4 billion by 2025, driven by increasing demand for non-academic courses from tier 2 & 3 cities. Bridging the career counselling gap in these non-metro regions will magnify this projected growth twofold.
This impact will not be limited to valuation increase for the edtech sector but will also lead to higher exposure to 21st-century careers for students and their parents. Instead of settling for a traditional job, students will have the freedom to capitalise on modern employment opportunities and make informed career decisions.
As more regionalised partnerships and career counselling centres emerge, it will forge an interconnected network of career guidance experts who can unite to build a supportive career counselling ecosystem for India’s youth.
The ensuing skilled and knowledgeable talent pool of young workers will be wider than ever before and will have a positive ripple effect on the economy as well.
In a world where careers are constantly evolving, high-quality career counselling is the only reliable basis for the uncertain future. To impact students positively in this ever-changing job landscape, we need to support the youth across India’s grassroots. And our aim should be that in the immediate future, every student across India gets equitable access to this crucial guidance.