Raza Abbas is an organisational development adviser and careers professional based in Pakistan. He is well known globally and has received numerous careers practitioners awards from the US National Career Development Association (NCDA) and the Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA). He works for inclusivity and social justice in career development practice both in Pakistan and globally.
As a social entrepreneur, I initiated the career counselling and career guidance institutional initiatives in Pakistan. I felt there was an acute shortage of career direction in South Asia and youth were sadly not utilizing their tremendous career potential.
Pakistan currently has a pre-dominantly youth population bonus where 60% of the population are young, making career interventions are imperative. For the last 14 years, it has been a humbling experience to contribute to an array of inclusive initiatives in schools, colleges, academies, foundations, NGO’s, vocational institutes, universities and incubation centres. Through this work I hope that I have inspired countless lives towards socially just careers and contributed to employability, job creation and promoting peace, multi-cultural harmony and dialogue.
It has been a pioneering learning experience to establish a career infrastructure in Pakistan from the ground up. Through this work we have sought to inspire countless lives and to promote decent work.
In my practice I am privileged to work with the following:
- Teachers and careers professionals. Through the delivery of teacher training for those working in grades 8-12 and in community settings and through keynotes and presentations. I help them to learn about career counselling, career guidance and career development and to think about social justice.
- Students of grades 8-12. I support them through one-to-one and group career counselling and coaching sessions in person and at a distance.
- University students. I focus on employability, job creation and personal branding and deliver careers services both in person and at distance.
- Parents. Who I support to have a meaningful parental career guidance dialogue on future careers with their children based on evidence and research.
- Entrepreneurs. Who I advise on creating start-ups.
- Research. For example, I have been collaborating with Dr. Anthony Scioli on a ground-breaking cross-cultural study on instilling hope and positivity in students, teachers and employees. Our pilot intervention on hope in Pakistan was profiled in ‘The World Book of Hope’.
- Employability advising. I focus on three key aspects: mindset and behaviour modification; employability skills such as job search and resume writing; and communication skills. I hold these sessions both in person and at a distance.
I have also recently started a Youtube channel to increase the reach of my work and to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic. On the channel I present interviews with seasoned professionals from diverse professions from around the globe to broaden the career horizons of the younger generation. Students that are currently in 11/12th grade are greatly benefiting from these informative interviews and will help them make an informed career decision to enter university. I humbly request our career community professionals to emulate this best practice in your respective countries so we can collectively maximize career guidance and career development globally.
The challenge of Covid-19
We are living in disrupted times that we could have never anticipated. Global economies are undergoing rapid changes in unprecedented ways that has sadly caused immense human tragedy, increased anxieties and premature job loss to countless people around the globe however there is hope.
As career professionals and passionate advocates of inclusive social justice, it is imperative that we ignite real hope within our profession and nurture in our clients, especially those from the younger generation. As Anthony Mann from the OECD says ‘Never before in human history has career guidance been so important’.These inspirational words provide us with real hope and remind us that as professionals we have a collective responsibility to serve and inspire the diverse communities that we live in.
I ask you to consider these questions in the light of the current pandemic:
- How are we cultivating and harvesting real hope in our profession and practice?
- Who has inspired us in the past and present in the current volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times?
- Who do we look forward for hope, optimism and vitality?
Responding to the challenge
The Covid 19 pandemic has devasted the younger generation especially generation z. While jobs are scarce the younger generation need to take pro-active steps to re-skill and up-skill. They also need to maintain their visibility, particularly by building their digital footprint and establishing a presence on Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Finally they need to engage in volunteering to nurture their well-being, contribute to their community and support social justice.
In the light of this we can encourage younger people to:
- proactively increase their visibility especially their social media presence on Linkedin, Facebook, and Youtube. For example by starting their own Youtube channel and utilising their creative skills 😊 or writing articles on social media and engaging with influencers;
- invest in re-skilling and up-skilling;
- develop an inter-disciplinary, skill based resume; and
- engage in their community through volunteering.
In summary let us embrace international, inter-generational and multi-cultural collaboration together to uplift and inspire inclusive humanity through life-long guidance, career counselling and by cultivating hope during VUCA times. By ensuring that career counselling becomes a legislative civic right for youth in countries around the globe we can collectively advocate for peace, revitalized hope and most importantly social justice.
Concluding with inspirational words of wisdom from the late Dr. Kofi Annan (Nobel Prize Winner).
To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to go there.
Raza Abbas will be happy to have a career conversation with colleagues. Kindly email at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the dialogue😊 Stay safe and remain connected.