INTRODUCTION AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Students throughout different stages of education are repeatedly reporting a sense of being lost, especially with respect to the career pathways they want to pursue and a lack of career guidance and support This sense has contributed to the rise in the numbei of high school drop-outs and has prolonged the rate of university completion (Khasawneh, Khasawneh Hailat & Jawarneh, 2007). Career planning and development in the 21st century must be priorities to maximise individuals' career potential for productive work and to help nations and organisations build or keep a competitive economic edge in the global market (Feldman, 2002). Therefore, it is crucial to determine the factors that have influenced students' career planning and development.
Many factors have been cited in the literature as influencing students' career planning and development. Researchers have reported that youth gain information concerning planning for future careers from a variety of sources including parents, teachers, and peers (Montgomery, Miville, Winter, Jeffries & Baysden, 2000). Youth who perceive their parents, teachers and peers as supportive are more likely to consider work as an important part of their lives, to seek leadership positions in their chosen field and to expect that they will be successful in their chosen careers (Kenny, Blustein, Chaves, Grossman & Gallagher, 2003). Fisher and Griggs (1995) identified six factors that may affect the career planning and development of students:
* parental influence
* the influence of friends or peers
* teachers' influence
* ethnic-gender expectations
* high school academic experiences and self-efficacy
* negative social events.
The influence of parents on the career planning of their children has been well documented in the literature. Parents have a profound influence on their children's lives and can shape adolescents' career development, occupational plans and attitudes toward job success (Rush, 2002; Steinberg, 2004). Previous studies have reported that perceived parental support positively predicted learning experiences, desire to learn, career selfesteem, career interest and career decision-making among adolescents and college students (Ferry, Fouad & Smith, 2000; Fisher & Padmawidjaja, 1997; Paa & McWhirter, 2000; Turner & Lapan, 2003). Further, Brown (2003) posited that 'parents exercise more influence than any other adults on the educational and vocational choice of children' (p. 332). These findings may suggest that the absence of such support could negatively affect students' career planning and development.
Supportive friends or peers have a crucial influence on the career planning of students and making key life decisions (Farmer, 2001; Felsman & Blustein, 1999). Students' career planning is not only influenced by the overall supportive mindset of their peers but also by the opportunity to learn from them (Fisher & Griggs, 1995). Wilson-Sadberry, Winfield and Royster (1991) reported that peers do directly influence the future career aspirations and other future plans of students.
The influence of teachers, in the form of teachers' expectations of and support for students, has been recognised as an important factor affecting students' career planning. Teachers who articulate interest in students' career goals and serve as role models have been shown to be instrumental in influencing students' career choices (Farmer, 2001). Adolescents rank the influence of teachers on their career choices behind that of parents or peers (Paa & McWhirter, 2000). Taken together, it is suggested that perceived teacher support may play an important role in adolescents' career planning and development.
With regard to the ethnic or gender background of students, studies have shown that girls who were encouraged …