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Career choices best left to Hong Kong youngsters

Law and medicine may be highly valued by parents, but there are positions that could be more satisfying for their offspring and of special use to the city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2018, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2018, 11:14pm

Hong Kong’s smartest high school graduates have a world of career opportunities at their feet, but are often narrow-minded when it comes to making choices. In the vast majority of cases, they opt to study medicine or law at university. There is prestige, financial reward, security and parental approval from working in such fields and, in the case of the former, our city desperately needs more doctors. For all the benefits, though, these professions require a special calling and parents would do well to help their children distinguish between a job and a vocation.

Parents who invest their lives in their children understandably have high expectations. When their sons and daughters succeed at school by attaining exceptional marks that guarantee entry to the best universities, hopes rise even higher; sights are set on one day being able to proudly say there is a doctor or lawyer in the family. These professions have the highest status of all in Hong Kong and few children would dare disappoint. But for the best and brightest, there are obviously other career paths that may be more personally satisfying and, if the needs of Hong Kong were a factor, as useful.

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The government’s development plans require entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists and those with expertise in computing and technology. Hong Kong is woefully short of such people, despite hi-tech being crucial to our city’s future. Students who have the marks to get into medicine and law do not necessarily make good doctors or lawyers. Apart from having detailed knowledge specific to their field, they need to establish rapport, ask questions, listen, examine, counsel and build trust.

There is a big difference between medicine or law as a vocation and as a job. A student may have the marks to qualify for a course and even graduate, but may lack the calling. In the case of practising medicine, that means the rewards of attending to those who are sick, bringing a measure of health and comfort to the dying, not attaining a particular status in society or substantial financial gain. Parents who push children towards particular careers may be making terrible decisions. Children allowed the choice to find their vocation have a chance for career satisfaction – which should be to the benefit of all.