Career and Guidance
Career development and guidance using ICTs
David Clarke, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Reflecting the growing trend toward occupationally relevant curricula, most Canadian provinces have introduced some form of secondary level career education programs to address changing economic and labor market conditions (Hyslop-Margison, McKerracher, Cormier, & Desroches, 2007). In Ontario, for example, policy has mandated increased emphasis on career education by specifying how career education should be woven into content areas and linked to occupational preparation and employability skills (Hyslop-Margison & Pinto, 2007). Indeed, career guidance is seen as playing a vital role in responding to labor market needs by matching students' interests, abilities and aptitudes to work in order to facilitate the transition to related careers (El-Zraigat, 2012). Moreover, career counseling has become a dynamic, creative and highly individualized process (El-Zraigat, 2012), and is part of the wider paradigm of guidance and a crucial dimension of lifelong learning (Vuorinen, Sampson, & Kettunen, 2011). And although teachers and parents play a significant role in the development of children’s career interests, their knowledge, for example, of science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations is limited (Hall, Dickerson, Batts, Kauffmann, & Bosse, 2011). In fact, less than one third of high school teachers feel that they are knowledgeable about career options in scientific fields; and less than two-thirds feel that they are knowledgeable about career options in information technology or engineering (Hall et al., 2011). Moreover, less than ten percent of school career advisers have scientific backgrounds and, as such, have the information or expertise to adequately guide students in such careers (Hall et al., 2011).
Role of ICTs
Prior to the Internet, most students’ career information came via parents or teachers—an arguably less than adequate or reliable source of information in many cases (Jackson, 1998). However, with the advent of the Internet, ICT-based (Information and Communications Technology) career guidance has evolved to include a wide variety of informational services facilitating interaction with career guidance professionals (Hall et al., 2011), and integrating various guidance services such as self-exploratory exercises, decision aids, training, work and labor market information retrieval systems, psychometric tests, career discussion forums and resume writing—to name but a few (Vuorinen et al., 2011). Even generic counseling services have been developed to help students make effective use of ICT in career guidance (Vuorinen et al., 2011). Such career guidance services assist in helping young people make informed and careful occupational, educational, training and employment decisions (Vuorinen et al., 2011). Indeed, technology has long since reached the point where computer-based, epistemic games exist to provide simulations of professional training for students with disabilities (Shaffer, 2007). As such, the Internet has proven to be an ideal medium for providing the young with real-time access to information when they need it—information previously unavailable or difficult or time consuming to access by prior means (Jackson, 1998). Consequently, the motivational aspect of the technology has allowed students to access vital information—students who may have been deterred by more conventional routes (Jackson, 1998). Thus ICT has provided expanded access to career guidance information. New forms of virtual tutoring and support, distribution of working life information, career planning and development resources are being developed (Vuorinen et al., 2011). The proliferation of services has been such that differentiated service delivery modes are now available to individuals of varying degrees of decision-making readiness and ICT literacy (Vuorinen et al., 2011). As such, ICT is no longer acting simply as a tool but as a powerful change agent exemplifying the merger of education, employment and social policy (Vuorinen et al., 2011). The Internet has provided an open and interactive environment in which students can assert and explore their uniqueness while connecting with like-minded individuals (Chen & Tzeng, 2012), contributing to weblogs or creating e-portfolios as a means to explore their identities or reflect on personal development (Chen & Tzeng, 2012).
A decade ago, many students who accessed online resources required support and/or were only able to access the Internet when a computer lab was available—creating a barrier to students for effective use of existing Internet resources (Schloss, 2011). In many educational settings, career practitioners were not able to meet student needs in flexible ways using the Internet (Patton, 2001). However, gaining access to the Internet is no longer the issue it once was (Davidson, 2001). In Finland, for example, in 2002, only two-thirds of Finns had actually used the Internet, but by 2010 as many as 86% of Finns access the Internet on a daily basis (Vuorinen et al., 2011). However, with the advent of Web 2.0 and social media, the past decade has witnessed a rapid expansion in ICT services and today students have changed in terms of both their ICT use and have higher ICT literacy (Vuorinen et al., 2011). Moreover, this has afforded students greater independence, giving them a sense of ownership over the career development process (Davidson, 2001).
During this period of time—in part due to student demand and economic directives (Samarawickrema & Stacey, 2007), career development has evolved with ICT into a specialized field that delivers highly individualized services (Schloss, 2011)—accommodating the fact that not all students have the same needs (Davidson, 2001). As such, it is no longer possible for one teacher or career counsellor to provide all of the services required by students for their career development and, in all likelihood, ICT will continue to play an ever increasing role in defining career development in the future (Davidson, 2001).
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