Vocational Guidance Requests within the International Scene

Article excerpt

This article summarizes the work of a diverse group of researchers and practitioners from 5 continents on "Vocational Guidance Requests Within the International Scene" presented in the discussion group at a symposium of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, the Society for Vocational Psychology, and the National Career Development Association, in Padua, Italy. The role of societal and cultural forces in individuals' vocational decisions, the need to serve a larger percentage of the population with vocational guidance services, and suggestions to address these challenges in the field of vocational guidance were addressed.

Participants in a discussion group of the symposium conducted at a joint meeting of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, the Society for Vocational Psychology, and the National Career Development Association, in Padua, Italy, addressed the theme "Vocational Guidance Requests Within the International Scene." They explored issues related to the current challenges and needs of those working in this area as they strive to meet the needs of a changing clientele. The choice of Galileo, arguably the most famous son of Padua, Italy, as the symbol of the general conference was a particularly good fit for this discussion group at the symposium. Galileo's contributions to science required him to contravene established wisdom and to change the perspective with which his contemporaries viewed the world. The contributions of the presenters in this group, although not as radical as those of Galileo, similarly challenged attendees to change their paradigm of career development.

Whereas each presenter in this discussion group was invited to interpret the theme in his or her own way, there was remarkable agreement among the presentations. Participants all remarked about (a) the role that societal and cultural forces play in a person's vocational decisions, (b) the need to serve a much larger percentage of the population with vocational guidance services, and (c) suggestions to address these challenges in the field of vocational guidance. This article summarizes the discussions related to these themes and offers recommendations for future practice by this group of participants from North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Vocational Guidance in Its Current State

Jane Goodman (2005, 2007) began the discussion with a description of several postmodern career counseling techniques. Starting with the premise that many counseling protocols that were effective in the 20th century need to be modified, she described relational approaches that include life planning, spirituality, and meaning making as essential components of the career counseling process. Looking first at barriers to career achievement, such as poverty and prejudice, she proceeded to describe pathways that included instilling hope and optimism and helping clients to develop self-efficacy beliefs. Finally, she described postmodern decision-making approaches, such as positive uncertainty; planned happenstance; and using narrative, integrative, and constructivist techniques to better understand clients' worlds and help them make appropriate decisions about work.

Marcus Gatti then provided an account for participants of the vocational guidance situation in Brazil. Basing his remarks on the paper prepared with Silva and Uvaldo (Gatti, Silva, & Uvaldo, 2007), he described an ethnically diverse country where more than 80% of students do not even consider higher education as an option. He also pointed to a lack of fit between the traditional psychoanalytic approach to vocational guidance used by most practitioners and the needs of a population experiencing severe poverty. Gatti described the University of Sao Paulo's response to the need for a more sociological approach that more fully takes into account a person's culture. The university has created a program specifically for psychology alumni who are dedicated to studying vocational psychology and the theoretical, cultural, and economic issues it generates. …