If you’re in B-school and planning to walk into the arms of a highly-paid, low-risk career, brace up. The road to a predictable, easy-money, designation-spewing corner cabin is getting steeper.
Salary, that sweet starting point every graduate yearns for, is getting harder to decipher and will lag expectations. Leave alone job security, even career stickiness is fast becoming a relic. The only rule for tomorrow’s worker: there are no rules.
And if you think this fantasy scenario belongs to the future, it is a future that has already happened. Compare job seekers with existing workers and the one difference, as the Hindustan Times-MaRS Youth Survey 2012, shows is a growing existential disconnect between the two. While the most important factor when choosing a job remains salary, the divide between job seekers and existing workers is noticeable (37% of the former see salary as important compared to 29% among existing workers.) In an age where you, for all practical purposes, design your own designation, this relic is falling by the wayside.
What’s becoming increasingly important is something that schools and colleges have forgotten to nurture, parents and teachers have crushed, students and apprentices have smothered to belong —that crazy thing called creativity, passion, drive, and a spark that lights up an integral life. Again, this is something existing workers, who are experiencing the change, have understood marginally better than aspirants to the shifting labour market: while 7.1% of workers feel this is the most important factor while choosing a job, the number for aspirants is 4.7%.
Curiously, seven out of 10 people want to serve the government, that risk-free, relatively low-salaried job. But how do you work creativity into this? By looking at the opportunity break-up. In cities where economic development and the accompanying opportunities are wanting, the percentage of government job-seekers is high — nine out of 10 in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati and Jaipur. This skew falls slowly and lying at the other end of the spectrum is the super entrepreneurial Ahmedabad, where fewer than two out of 10 want a government job; and the corporate entrepreneurial Mumbai, where less than half seek that safety.
Interestingly, less than one in three want to be entrepreneurs in India’s commercial capital, while in the national capital, the fraction is two in three. While government jobs may be hot on the youth agenda, politics is not. Less then a third of those polled wanted to lead the country.
Step back from the traditional traps and the picture gets more humane. While 30% of India’s youth ticked being rich as their most important life goal, 44% opted for that fuzzy thing called ‘happiness’. Here, we find a gender bender that bows before women. 38% of males said happiness was crucial; the number for females was 50%. The surprises came from Guwahati, where 63% people sought happiness and Indore, where 67% pursued money.
The survey results perhaps display the growing pangs and accompanying contradictions of a complex nation, currently under economic and social reconstruction — an economic growth that at 7% is considered ‘slow’; a massive migration to the cities; a pressure towards individuality as the currency of familial warmth gives way to the refuge of consumerism. All of which is pushing isolated young people towards the stability of money.
Except that it is a mirage. One of the perks that a growing economy offers is the opportunity to do what you love, the money usually follows.
Over the next four decades, you will change three to five careers as knowledge drives work to frontiers that today we don’t think exist. You will probably deliver profits for a company as a physicist, work for an NGO to save the planet. If you’re adventurous enough, you could be in upcoming careers like genetic counselling or sky-farming. In fact, even routine jobs will become knowledge intensive where your supervisor will merely be a coordinator — there will be a transfer of authority and swagger towards you.
Welcome to that delicious future.