Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Life Design: A Paradigm for Career Intervention in the 21st Century

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Life Design: A Paradigm for Career Intervention in the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Among individuals choosing jobs and constructing careers, the work world of the 21st century provokes feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Whereas the secure employment and stable organizations of the 20th century offered a firm basis for building a life and envisioning a future, the digital revolution of the 21st century has brought a new social arrangement of work in which temporary assignments and time-limited projects replace permanent jobs (Kalleberg, Reskin, & Hudson, 2000). The "dejobbing" wrought by the global economy has produced the "insecure worker," including employees who are called temporary, contingent, casual, contract, freelance, part time, external, atypical, adjunct, consultant, and self-employed. The transformation of the labor force from core workers with permanent jobs to peripheral workers with temporary assignments has already affected nearly half of workers in the United States (Kalleberg, 2009).

During the 20th century when employees occupied a permanent job, workers could count on bureaucratic organizations to provide a grand narrative about how their lives would unfold. Today, individuals can no longer plan to work 30 years developing a career within the boundaries of one job or even one organization. Instead, during their lifetimes they may expect to occupy at least 10 jobs, more properly called assignments (Saratoga Institute, 2000). One in four workers in the United States has been with their current employer for less than a year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2004). The new job market in an unsettled economy calls for viewing career not as a lifetime commitment to one employer but as a recurrent selling of services and skills to a series of employers who need projects completed. An examination of contemporary employment practices reveals that the social reorganization of work has produced a new psychological contract between organizations and their members (Rousseau, 1996). Today, workers must be employable, lifelong learners who commit themselves to an organization for a period of time and show professional character in performing emotional labor and adapting quickly to changes. The new contract of employability has prompted management and human resource scholars to reconceptualize careers as boundaryless (Arthur, 1994), protean (Hall, 1996), customized (Benko & Weisberg, 2007), kaleidoscopic (Sullivan & Mainiero, 2008), and as a portfolio (Handy, 1998).

Frequent job dislocation and career destabilization set workers adrift as they try to chart their futures and shape their identities. Entering today's work world requires more effort, deeper self-knowledge, and greater confidence than ever before. Individuals who must cope with unstable occupations and frequent job transitions may request substantially more help from career counselors, and I think a different kind of help. The two major paradigms for career intervention in the 21st century were vocational guidance and career education. Vocational guidance rests on a psychology of fixed traits and types that can be objectified with tests and then matched to stable occupations that provide long tenure. Career education rests on a predictable trajectory of developmental tasks that can be eased by teaching individuals mature attitudes and competencies that prepare them to unfold careers within hierarchical organizations. Matching through vocational guidance and preparing through career education may not adequately address the life design needs of citizens in information societies.

* A New Approach to Career Intervention

As the form of work changes from stability to mobility to reflect the labor needs of posttraditional societies, so too must the form of career intervention change. The paradigms of guiding and preparing now must be supplemented with a new paradigm that fully addresses the life design needs of workers in information societies that have destandardized the life course (Duarte, 2009). …

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