Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) recently published a guidebook to help parents support their children in their career aspirations. Below, we highlight the biggest takeaways from the guide:
Use questions to spark a conversation about work. Keep the questions casual (“What tasks do you enjoy or dislike doing?”) or fun (“If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?”).
Use a simple framework to determine the areas in which your child displays aptitude: Does he or she work best with people, data, things, or ideas?
Be aware of the different education and career pathways open to your child here in Singapore. If budget is a concern, it’s never too early to research scholarships and financial assistance schemes.
Introduce children to the world of work. This could include giving them a tour of your office, or letting them see the work that you produce. Talk about your work ethic and your passion for what you do, and wherever you go, look out for examples of people who enjoy their jobs and do it well—this is what you want to highlight for your children.
Once your children begin to express an interest in career specialisations, an in-depth discussion will help them to ascertain if it is a genuine interest or a passing fancy. Encourage your children to set aside time for contemplation, with questions such as “What triggered your interest in this particular industry or role?”
Identify work opportunities together. We are far better connected than our parents’ generation and we are likely to have individuals in our network who can offer internship positions to our children. But if not, we should make our children aware that there are many routes to gaining experience as a student, such as volunteer work.
Develop 21st century competencies: The ability to communicate, manage time, work in teams, and problem solve will serve one well at the workplace. (Supplement MOE’s tips with our guide to helping children develop curiosity, drive, and a sense of community.)
Do the research: MOE has provided a host of resources as a starting point for career exploration. One publication that might resonate with students is “The Next Step Forward”; it features 42 stories contributed by youths pursuing a wide range of interests, and each with a unique journey.