Senior high school learners and students can make a huge, positive impact on their future career paths if they spend a few days of their holidays job-shadowing, an education expert says.
"Although job-shadowing is not yet as formally structured within companies in South Africa as they are abroad, young people should nevertheless commit to finding shadowing opportunities and then using those opportunities to their full potential," says Peter Kriel, General Manager of The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
Additionally, companies should consider introducing structured job-shadow opportunities over holidays, to enable as many young people as possible to experience the reality of the world of work, and to consider their career options, he says.
Kriel says that too often prospective students make decisions about their careers and the qualifications they want to pursue based on a limited insight and understanding of what a field entails, based on general perceptions and even media portrayals.
"That is a contributing factor to students quitting their studies within the first year, when they realise their ideas about a career were far removed from the reality," he says.
Other students push through, but become disillusioned soon after graduating and entering the workplace, when they realise they would never have chosen a specific career if they knew what it entailed.
"Job shadowing – not to be confused with an internship – is usually an opportunity that lasts for only a few days, when a student or learner gets to accompany someone in a specific role going about their daily work," says Kriel.
"Ideally, young people should do a few job shadowing stints, in different companies and in different fields, whereafter they will have a much better feel for what potential future gets them truly motivated and excited."
In addition to providing invaluable insight into potential careers, job shadowing also allows young people to start building their CVs and their experience. Especially during the early years after graduation, when all employers want "experience" but few candidates are yet able to display any, job shadowing shows commitment and drive. On top of that, job shadowers may indeed even be able to add some actual experience as well, in cases where they were given some tasks to fulfil.
"Job shadowing also allows young people to identify mentors and start building networks and contacts in their field, which could become extremely useful later, particularly where they make a favourable impression," says Kriel.
To make the most of the experience, he advises job-shadowers to:
DID YOU KNOW?
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH, Africa's largest private education group.
The IIE is the leading private higher education provider in South Africa, and the only one accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK.
By law, private higher education institutions in South Africa may not call themselves Private Universities, although registered private institutions are subject to the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities.
The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, Design School Southern Africa (DSSA) and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.