Career development and guidance
Although commonly used by most of us on a daily basis, the term ‘career’ as means of describing the sequence of work‐related experiences one has over the course of their working lifetime is fairly new. The word career itself originates from medieval tournaments - 16th-century English speakers used the noun "career" (from Middle French carriere) to refer to knights galloping in tournaments as well as to the courses knights rode. By the mid-17th century, the verb had acquired its general "go fast" meaning.
However, the sociological concept of "career" emerged only in the turn of the 20th century when the University of Chicago became the first US University to establish a sociological department, which laid the foundations for a global research of the concept of careers.
The Chicago sociologists claimed that one cannot research social constructs without exploring and understanding the little details of everyday life. Their research first began with the endeavor to map demographic characteristics in different surroundings, and subsequently developed to the research of life histories of specific segments of populations (ie, immigrants, minorities, etc.).
However, the term "career" in its occupational context, was rarely used until the early 1960s, and since then it has evolved in many ways.
When specifically discussing the term "career development" it is usually referring to one of these two main concepts:
- The aggregation of all psychological, sociological, economic, educational, political, physical or any other variable shaping one's occupational path, decisions, outcomes, and history.
- The total theories, practices and interventions used to assist the individual in making occupational decisions, thus enabling them to achieve effective and desired outcomes.
As for the rise of career/vocational counseling and guidance, the origins of that discipline are traced back to the late 1800s-early 1900s. Several socio-political processes in the USA like the shift from mainly agriculture society to production based economy (which created a vocational diversity), urbanization, immigration, globalization, national concerns regarding planning the labor-market, and educational focus on preparing the youth for their working-life and their fit to future employment, contributed to this emerging new discipline. Child labor, civil right movements, changes in family structure and women liberation gave their own boosts to this revolution.
Frank Parsons, who is considered by many as the father of the vocational guidance movement, described in his book "Choosing a vocation" (1904) his 3-steps approach to the issue:
- Full understanding of the individual personality, tendencies, beliefs, skills, education, interests, limitations, aptitudes and any other personal attribution.
- Full comprehension of all vocations, its characteristics, requirements, demanded skills, success factors, challenges, advantages and possible disadvantages.
- The relations between the two and the fit of an individual to a certain line of work.
However, at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a shortage in appropriate techniques, theories, data and designated platforms for guidance. First steps in this direction were made at the first half of the century, followed by an explosion of research, information and new practices from the 1950s through the 2000s. All these new approaches and theories used the life-span career model, based on the notion that the vocational path of an individual is linear and constitutes of the phases of growth - exploration - establishment - mastery - maintenance - decline. This in turn also changed the definition of career guidance from focusing on what is to be chosen to concentrating on the chooser himself and the psychological nature of vocational choice.
At the turn of the millennium, a new challenge appeared. After a century of advancements, the ecosystem changed dramatically, mainly because of the technological and digital revolution, and the transformation from industrial to information based global economy.
So, what are the challenges we all face in this new era?
- New paradigms and theories – the rapid changes in the labor world and general environments, require new and adaptive concepts, approaches and tools. Common practices become anachronistic, and the demand for up-to-date approaches increases as technology dramatically affects all workplaces, procedures and organizations.
- Self-fulfillment in the developed world – traditional career models emphasized effectivity and efficiency, and were concerned in market needs as much as the individual's needs. Most of us still think of our professional identity to be a major part of our self-identity. Economic growth and the expansion of leisure time in modern life create new personal needs, mainly the need to extract personal potential and doing something meaningful.
- Spiral and not linear – changes in employment structure reflect in greater diversity in career patterns and experiences. Rather than the 40 year long-one position/employer model, today we encounter more and more people with "fragmented" careers , meaning short cycled experiences aggregating to one whole professional path. More people will work for small/medium size companies or as self-employed. One's career will be the total of many mini-stages, sometime different in product area, function, technology, organization and environment.
- On-going learning – Gone are the days when we got our diplomas and embarked on our career, without the need to maintain personal growth and development. What was traditionally a characteristics of few occupations (physicians for example), became the standard. Professional growth turned to be horizontal and not just vertical. We all need to expand our range of skills, abilities and knowledge in an ongoing process. Adaptation and upskilling become necessary. People need to accept uncertainties and ambiguities, develop social skills, have the possibility for meta-thinking processes, and have a general "career resilience".
- New lines of work – we live in a very dynamic and frequently changing era. Technology advancements brings new ideas and opportunities every day. While some occupations turn obsolete, we face an inflation in new domains and positions. New industries rise frequently and bring with them many new jobs and titles. Similar to the industrial revolution and other process discussed earlier, we witness boosted growth in many job fields. Current times resemble past revolutions in that the world is changing right in front of us, in a fast pace. Less than 20 years ago, dozens of current lines of work were not existent. It is safe to presume that in 20 years from now, we will witness the birth of many other new occupations.