Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Aligning School Counseling, the Changing Workplace, and Career Development Assumptions. (Special Issue: Career Development and the Changing Workplace)

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Aligning School Counseling, the Changing Workplace, and Career Development Assumptions. (Special Issue: Career Development and the Changing Workplace)

Article excerpt

While navigating educational requirements and career decision making grows in complexity, assumptions about career development and the changing workplace need to be re-evaluated. Quality comprehensive school counseling programs promote self knowledge, exploration, career planning, and self-advocacy skill attainment needed for a time when "good career development requires recognizing that success and fulfillment are individually defined" (Feller, 1996b, p. 152). As a result, school counselors and school counseling programs play key roles "as schools will need to prepare students who can successfully transition to the next level, whether it is a college or university, a community college, a technical institution, or a job. Also, students will need to have the skills and competencies required for the option they choose" (Hughey & Hughey, 1999, p. 207).

While changes in work and the workplace require change in career theory and practice (Savickas, 1999), House and Martin (1998) called for school counselors to provide evidence of positive impact on student achievement. Sink (2002) posed questions about school counselor relevancy and suggested the need to ask how to improve school counseling. For those who believe that school counseling, education, and student planning are inseparable, examining long held assumptions about career development deserves attention. This seems timely as Barton (2002) reported that young people are getting no more education than their parents have, and that while college enrollment rates have been increasing, so have noncompletion rates. He also called for more avenues to success than the traditional college route. Appreciating such opportunities, this article provides an overview of the changing workplace and insights about student planning, career and technical education, and school-to-work efforts. Career development assumptions to enhance student, school counselor, and school counseling program success are offered as well.


School reform efforts over the past few decades have created many changes for school counselors. Both anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that the profession has responded successfully to multiple external forces. They include changing educational philosophies, social movements, economic trends, and legislative accountability (Borders, 2002; Herr, 2002). Historically, school counselors have served an ancillary role. They are now central to the educational mission as key information brokers regarding educational options, curricular development, and occupational opportunities (Herr).

Along with its complexity, the importance of career development on effective student planning has escalated. A growing research base underscores the positive impact of career guidance and counseling efforts, particularly those with developmentally appropriate content (increasingly referred to as career development) on successful career choices (Herr, 2000).

Yet, at a time when both the literature and business interests accentuate the need for more appropriately trained workers, students continue to make career choices based on scant information. Research illustrates a dramatic disconnection between student courses of study or job pursuits and existing job openings and business needs (Career Institute for Education and Workforce Development, 2002). Longitudinally, such disconnections often play out as dissatisfaction with career choices and outcomes. In a 1999 survey conducted by the Gallup Organization (National Career Development Association, 2000), 69 percent of working adults reported that if choosing careers again they would get more information about available options than they had previously. This survey echoed another National Career Development Association (1993) survey in which 72 percent of working adults indicated they would seek greater exploratory opportunities if they were able to start over. …

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