Vocational Psychology and Career Guidance Practice: An International Partnership

Article excerpt

Vast changes in the world of work spurred by rapid technological growth and globalization have called for a more inclusive, progressive, and forward thinking conceptualization of vocational theory, practice, training, and policy. Discussions across 8 discussion groups at the 2007 joint symposium of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, Society for Vocational Psychology, and National Career Development Association addressed various topics in the field of vocational psychology and career guidance. Several themes emerged that have captured the attention of career scholars and practitioners across the globe: culture and context in theory and practice, research as a process within a contextual system, partnership and collaboration, and social responsibility and public policy.

From the presentations and discussions at the joint international symposium of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG) and National Career Development Association (NCDA) held in San Francisco in 2004, four general themes emerged (Savickas, Van Esbroeck, & Herr, 2005). First, the importance of designing and adapting models, methods, and materials for career education and counseling was highlighted. Discussions centered on the appropriateness of adapting theories, techniques, and tools constructed in one cultural context for use in another versus the use of indigenous tools and techniques. A second theme concerned public policy initiatives and the relevance of vocational guidance for both the individual and society at large. The need for policy initiatives that ensured access to services for all individuals and groups was stressed. A third theme emphasized the importance of training practitioners to meet the growing international need for career services and the shortage of career counselors and training programs. The fourth theme identified the promise of information technology for expanding the delivery of educational and vocational guidance. Many participants in the discussion reported that the citizens in their countries had limited access to information technology. Suggestions for the development of Web sites to serve as resources for career counselors were made.

These themes served as a basis for selecting the eight themes for the discussion groups at the 2007 joint symposium of the IAEVG, Society for Vocational Psychology (SVP), and NCDA, held in Padua, Italy. These groups addressed various topics in the field of vocational psychology and career guidance and the impact of recent societal changes and changes in the field itself on these topics. Across these discussions, several themes emerged that have captured the attention of career scholars and practitioners across the globe. Vast changes in the world of work spurred by rapid technological growth and globalization have necessitated a more inclusive, progressive, and forward-thinking conceptualization of vocational theory, practice, training, and policy. Globalization has created staggering changes in how and where people work. Technological advances in communication, including virtual worlds, have transformed the world of work into a global enterprise with local consequences. These changes are having both astounding and disquieting effects on how people work and on the societies in which they live. As a result, vocational psychology and career guidance are at a crossroad facing fierce debate over the longevity and viability of current theories, practices, training, and research. This debate, ignited by the challenges associated with the growing needs and concerns of modern workers, has prompted scholars and practitioners from around the globe to unite in international ventures such as the 2007 IAEVG-SVP-NCDA International Symposium. The result is remarkable consistency in the identification of global challenges and the need for local solutions. The overarching paradigmatic responses to these challenges are organized into four major themes: culture and context in theory and practice, research as a process within a contextual system, partnership and collaboration, and social responsibility and public policy. …