EVERY now and then I discuss career options with my son.
The first time of asking he confidently announced that he wanted to be a sheepdog (to be fair he was only three). A few years later he told me he was leaving home to join Hogwarts and become a wizard.
At age six he was all set to be a robot designer (his plan was to build them then distribute them to the needy, an honourable ambition but not one that would pay the rent).
Now, at the grand old age of 12, he has decided to be a computer geek.
I still try to push him towards the lucrative world of the boy band but he is resolute in his refusal (there goes my pension plan).
I clearly remember the day he asked me if he could build me a web page instead of a castle (“my boy has grown up”, I sobbed).
It seems like only yesterday I was watching him sleep on the couch clutching his Aardvark, Ari, wearing Thomas the Tank pyjamas (my son not the Aardvark).
I swear I turned my back for barely a minute and there in his place was a hulking youth with big feet and a bad attitude.
Fortunately he still has time, but time is relentless and waits for no man (and neither do I, which Is why I am single) and in less than two years he will have to choose his ‘options’ and embark on his educational journey for real.
Mine started in a damp classroom sitting as far from the teacher as was humanly possible (she didn’t like me very much) and is yet to finish. In truth I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. A job is no longer for life (sometimes not even for Christmas) and a degree does not guarantee a satisfying career, if anything it can make it harder.
How often have those of us who have spent time at university in the hope of wealth and fulfilment been repeatedly told at interview after interview (if you were lucky to even get that far) that you were ‘over qualified’?
Young people will find it increasingly difficult to navigate their way through life. We tell them to work hard at school and earn qualifications galore because that will improve their chances of having the career they desire.
Scores of Engineers, scientists, artists and marine biologists in frustration at a lack of opportunity eventually become teachers and thus educate the next generation of engineers, scientist, artists and marine biologists who will in turn become teachers, ad infinitum.
We are in danger of producing a whole generation of teachers who never really wanted to teach. Imagine if the same were true of the medical profession.
“I never wanted to cut people open, I really wanted to count turtles on the Galapagos Islands but I couldn’t find a job so here I am”. Perhaps the government could organise a ‘Life Swap’ scheme.
We could swap careers, husbands, wives, children even houses (I have my eye on the Palacio de las Dueñas).
It was Woody Allen who said, “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.” So swap why don’t you!