vocations or careers?

This is rapidly turning into student week. Tuesday’s blog featured the student finance review and today an article peering into the world of student unemployment caught my eye (but I don’t agree with his assessment of useful subjects to study). Having worked with students for a number of years and having spent the last couple of days promoting the CARE leadership programme for graduates I declare a keen interest. It has left me wondering about how much advice and guidance we give young people as they start out on their full-time working lives. Ministers, youth workers and parents all have responsibilities here. What are we saying? Are we saying anything? Have we capitulated to the received wisdom of the day: study a subject that leads to well-paid stable career. And that’s it.

Surely our theology leads us in a different direction, that God has uniquely gifted us to carry out tasks within his plan for stewarding the earth. Therefore, we are to encourage these traits as we identify them in each other at any age. Young people are especially in need of this help: they face huge questions of life choices at an age when they are only just developing the equipment to tackle them. It’s not so much a career choice as the identification of a vocation. But my hunch is this, that we don’t want to be seen to be interfering in others’ lives at this level (we might offend their parents for example) so we allow schools’ careers advisors to do the job for us (helpful advice, though, that they often give). And the result of this is to convince our young people that God’s people have nothing relevant to say in this area of their lives that they will spend one third of their working lives until they’re 70. As a parent and former student worker, I don’t think this is a luxury we can afford.


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