How to Choose Worthwhile Career and Get Ready for the Job Market: Practical Tips from YT Expert

Which career path to choose and, actually, what to do with your life now that you are legally allowed and obliged to make your very own first BIG decision? According to one study a majority of young people in Europe aged 16-26 are planning to get or are already studying towards a university degree. . They are still naive and yet have to face the inconsiderate reality of the job market but currently they perceive a university degree as a sort of a “philosopher’s stone” - an imperative for their success in life. But is it actually ANY university degree that will enable them to achieve their aspirations?

A good start in answering this question is to look at in which countries and industries are expected to yield the highest number of new highly qualified jobs in the foreseeable future. First of all, it is important to recognise that one of the lasting effects of the 2008 financial crisis would be the public sector’s inevitable loss of its position as the key new jobs creator and employer even in such public centred environments as Greece and France.

The current austerity measures enforced across Europe (as well as Russia and other ex-USSR states) will positively tilt the balance of more lucrative jobs back into the private sector, leaving the young with very few and far between opportunities for getting state sponsored ones. Next it is vital to recognize that existing multinationals and blue chip national corporations are actually quite deficient at creating new jobs. The biggest number of jobs across Europe over the last quarter of the century has been created by der Mittelstand (SMEs) (predictably, with the exception of the overinflated state systems of some countries) and current outlook suggests that the majority of about 13 mln new highly qualified jobs to be created across Europe (but keep in mind that about 6 mln highly qualified jobs are expected to be lost) in the next ten years would again be generated by the SMEs. What importantly differs these new SMEs from their peers established 50 or even 30 years ago – is the source of financing of their growth, and if previously these were predominately family supported business, today most of the successful SMEs attract Private Equity financing to fuel their growth. Thus the current investment “sweethearts” of the PE world are best placed to create these rewarding highly skilled jobs that we are looking for.

Reconciling the OECD outlook with the PE industry data it appears safe to conclude that ICT, life sciences and health care, Green and alternative energy, B2B services and products as well as B2C services and retail are the industries that most probably would be generating the biggest number of graduate level jobs in Europe in the midterm.

Geographically, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark appear to show good prospects for job creation, however such markets as Spain and France despite the healthy prospects for highly skilled jobs creation appear to be riskier options for the novel international job seekers due to overregulated national labour legislation. Poland and Romania might be also considered amongst the new EU members, however it is reasonable to foresee vicious completion for these new jobs from the redundant local labour discharged from the Manufacturing and Utilities.

On the other hand, one must keep in mind, that any of industries described above despite the fact of leaning towards creation of specific industry related jobs, also require various support and administrative role. So, even, within such HiTech fields as Life Sciences there is definitely room for a whole span of jobs from marketing to journalism, and from engineering to art and design. Interesting food for thought is provided by the Australian Skilled Immigration Points Calculator, as this country is currently the most active migrants’ recipient particularly focused on attracting highly qualified work force. Out of 149 recognized qualifications for new migrants that command top tier score 68(!) are in medical profession and further 28 are in engineering and construction.
Furthermore there are some global trends that, if comprehended, might help one to picture the job landscape in 10 years:

  • Globalization and increased completion for jobs from international outsourcing sources
  • Envisaged insufficiency of oil, water and other natural resources
  • Continuing urbanization
  • Aging population in the OECD world
  • Arable land degradation and growing population
  • ICT was the 3rd industrial revolution and the penetration levels of IT-infrastructure will continue to grow in all sectors and jobs
  • The new model of allowable state intervention in national economies is shaping under the influence of financial austerity and budget deficits reduction measures, which will inevitably exercise downwards pressure on public sector jobs creation

And as if the question of deciding upon one’s future occupation and the field of one’s studies was not confusing enough, there comes the question of choosing the best university to get your ‘dream job’. It goes without saying that if you can get into one of the Top 25 Universities in the world – GO FOR IT! But for the predominant majority that doesn’t qualify for that elusive top 1% percentile of applicants this question should by no means be taken lightly.

First of all, it is safe to assume that universities based in the educational systems that rank high in the world generally are better than their counterparties in more struggling nations, and PISA is the best proxy for it. Them, we will leave aside the options in the US and Asia/Pacific due to geographic remonstrance and would like to offer some guidelines as to choosing a country and university that a lot of people found useful. We would like to further assume that quality education requires financing and in this regard the average spend per student per academic year (in USD ‘000) is a solid even though insufficient basis for a modern education. And in fact country rankings by the average spend per student are significantly correlated with the rankings of countries by the quality of the University education. And finally it is also important to recognize how the governments in various countries react to the current fiscal tightening of public spending in the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis. And it is rather informative that Austria, UK, Portugal, Czech Republic and Poland are actually significantly increasing funding on pro rata basis which is a very positive sign for prospective students.

Therefore, one can argue that when considering universities options that don’t necessarily top the league tables the opportunities in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom should be very carefully contemplated as well as quality institutions in such new members of the EU as Poland and Czech republic. The Nordic option however has one serious drawback – a rather limited future use outside of the University’s home country of the language of study, which one has to master to study for the diploma in one on those countries, so even though slightly lower rated options in Austria and Germany might be a better all around choice as the German speaking economy is expected to offer the highest number of the new highly skilled jobs in the immediate future.

In conclusion we would like to suggest that it is still worthwhile to pick up an MBA somewhere along the way, as the graduates of top schools could reasonably expect to make around USD 200 000 three years after graduation easily covering the cost of the program at ca. USD 100 000. Even better news are that more and more top Business schools start to offer a dual degree with the MBA so this enables students to complement their solid practical Master’s degree with a good understanding of how the business world actually works. And with such a background, eventually why not venture into the wild and start you own business? Becoming an entrepreneur will make most of this article redundant for you, for your job security will be in your own hands, and further more – perhaps, your newly started firm will become one of more than 5 000 companies backed by Private Equity gurus in Europe every year; and with financing secured only the sky would become the limit for your success!

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