In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl mounted an ocean going expedition in an attempt to demonstrate that people from South America could have made the trek to the Polynesian islands. He and his crew used the materials, Polynesian navigation techniques and knowledge available prior to Christopher Columbus’s voyages in 1492. In 101 days Heyerdahl and his 5-man crew sailed across the Pacific on a balsawood raft he christened Kon-Tiki. The 6,900 km (4,300 mile) trip ended successfully and safely when the crew made landfall after Kon-Tiki struck a reef in the Tuamotu Islands.

According to Wikipedia, most anthropologists now believe that South Americans did not travel to Polynesia. Whether they did or not doesn’t alter the fact that the navigation techniques Heyerdahl and his crew used to make the voyage worked. In his account of the expedition, he described how Polynesian navigators used the direction, size and speed of ocean waves as one means of determining their position when they were out of sight of land. To do this meant they had to know where those wave types originated, but only after they identified them.

Heyerdahl and his crew knew where they were going and why, and their targets didn’t move. Working people and pre-working people on this side of the world can’t say the same. They’re not as confident about their professional and occupational destinations as they used to be. Yesterday’s targets are moving or disappearing altogether. Those that still exist may demand much more of entry level candidates than they used to.

Ontario’s new status as a “have not” province is particularly troubling. Students are discovering that their degrees don’t carry the weight they used to, or are the wrong degrees for the times. The personal and professional expectations of parents and students are out of sync with today’s markets. To make matters worse, students paying their own way are taking on debt loads and the repayment anxiety that goes with them. Employers are now demanding that they work as unpaid interns or defined-length contractors without benefits in lieu of being engaged permanently. Had conventional sources of information risen to the occasion, these students wouldn’t be struggling the way they are.

It pays to bear in mind that mortgage lenders, car dealerships and landlords will be skittish about loaning money to borrowers and tenants whose paid employment horizon is measured in months instead of years. If you are contemplating such an offer, be sure to weigh all of the pro’s and con’s. Where possible, avoid employers who insist on stacking the deck in their favour at your expense. If they promise full-time employment at the end of your contract, make sure the promise is in writing. Despite inflation, promises are still a dime a dozen and talk is cheap.

Heyerdahl’s ocean waves are today’s disjointed, Internet-delivered facts. There are no cookie-cutter decisions when it comes to acquiring education as a prerequisite to entering the labour market. Re-entering or repositioning in today’s economy carries with it unprecedented levels of personal, professional and financial risk. This is a subject with which PDD is more than just a little familiar.

When all is said and done, the final say over what work you pursue and why is yours. PDD can help you assess the risk associated with that decision by bringing to bear information that’s current to within months so that you can plan accordingly. Psychological profiling is long on aptitude and potential fit, but silent on the subject of labour market conditions and prognoses for the future.

Polynesian navigators turned facts about where they were into information in real time. Today, information about education and career navigation has to be right because mistakes come at a price. Unlike vintage fine wine, market intelligence is best consumed young.

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