Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Translating Career Theory to Practice: The Risk of Unintentional Social Injustice

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Translating Career Theory to Practice: The Risk of Unintentional Social Injustice

Article excerpt

The nature and quality of private individual decisions are now a matter of considerable public importance, as are the extent and quality of the career guidance services available to support them. Such services need to be widely accessible on a lifelong basis, to serve the needs of individuals, the economy and wider society.

--European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), 2009, p. 13

The statement above highlights two essential, and sometimes conflicting, elements of guidance policy: effectiveness and access. Achieving a satisfactory balance between effectiveness and access requires a better understanding of the effectiveness of career guidance in relation to its cost. The examination of effectiveness in relation to access presented in this article is based on three assumptions. First, the career theory that influences the design of career guidance interventions has a substantial influence on the effectiveness and cost of service delivery. Second, the cost of delivering career guidance interventions strongly influences the access that people have to the services they need. Third, limitations in the effectiveness of and the access people have to career guidance is a social justice issue.

This article begins with an identification of the elements of career guidance and continues with an examination of the translation of career theory to practice, the effectiveness of career guidance interventions, and the access people have to career guidance. Collaborative career counseling is then proposed as an intervention to improve access to career guidance. The article ends with a discussion of balancing effectiveness and access in delivering career guidance interventions.

Elements of Career Guidance

The following elements of career guidance are defined to avoid confusion in the use of terms that sometimes have different meanings in various countries. These elements include the nature of career guidance, the persons who are served, and the practitioners who deliver services. Career guidance provides "services intended to assist people, of any age and at any point throughout their lives to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers" (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2004, p. 19). Career guidance interventions include individual interviews, group discussions, school lessons, structured experiences, and assistance via the telephone or the Internet, as well as people's use of self-help resources in schools, in offices, and on the Internet (OECD, 2004). Career resources include career assessments; occupational, educational, training, and employment information; and instructional materials and media (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004). Persons receiving career guidance include individuals, clients, students/advisees, customers, patrons, and employees (Reardon, Sampson, & Lenz, 2000). Practitioners who provide career guidance interventions include persons with a variety of training, credentials, experience, and position titles who design and deliver career resources and services to young people and adults (Sampson, 2008).

Considerable variation exists among countries in who delivers career guidance, having titles such as career counsellor, careers teacher, global career development facilitator, and vocational psychologist. In most countries career guidance is now provided by people with a very wide range of training and qualifications. Some are specialists; some are not. Some have had extensive, and expensive, training; others have had very little. (OECD, 2004, p. 19)

Translation of Career Theory to Practice

Practitioners can use career theory to reduce complex vocational behaviors to more readily understood concepts (Shoffner, 2006; Young, Marshall, & Valach, 2007). These concepts can be used as a schema to help practitioners select career guidance interventions to meet specific client needs. …

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