Vocational Skills and Outcomes among Native American Adolescents: A Test of the Integrative Contextual Model of Career Development

Article excerpt

This study tested hypotheses of the Integrative Contextual Model of Career Development (R. T. Lapan, 2004a) by investigating the multivariate effects of 6 interrelated career development skills (career exploration, person-environment fit, goal setting, social/prosocial/work readiness, self-regulated learning, and the utilization of social support) on 6 intermediate vocational outcomes (academic achievement, self-efficacy expectations, positive self-attributions, vocational interests, vocational identity, and proactivity) among Native American adolescents. Results showed that individual and shared variance among the skills positively predicted 79% of variance in 5 of the 6 outcomes. Results suggest that each of the skills contributes substantially and in combination to Native American adolescents' career development.

Researchers have continued to show "a remarkable disparity in vocational achievement" (Juntuncn et al., 2001, p. 274) of Native Americans relative to other ethnic groups. Among Native Americans, the unemployment rate is 2 to 3 times the rate of Caucasian Americans (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002). Among Native Americans living on reservations, the unemployment rate is 5 times greater than in the general population (Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2002). Native Americans are classified as members of the working poor at 2 to 3 times the rate of Caucasian Americans and are overrepresented in service, labor, and semiskilled jobs and underrepresented in higher paid technical and managerial jobs (Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1997).

Limited access to full employment is also reflected in the statistics regarding education. The educational system is failing to prepare many Native American young people to enter the labor market. For example, a significant achievement gap exists between Native American young people and "native born, white students" (Berlak, 2004, p. 227). Among Native American adolescents, high school graduation rates are astoundingly low, approaching 50% in some areas of the country (Reyhner, 2002). Moreover, despite evidence of academic ability, Native Americans drop out of postsecondary institutions at a higher rate than do members of any other ethnic group (Reddy, 1993). Supporting the educational and career development of Native American young people has become critical, not only for the economic stability of their communities but also for their personal stability.

There is limited research on the career development of Native Americans. The extant literature suggests that Native Americans conceptualize careers similarly to the way that Caucasian Americans and African Americans do (when examined using the Holland, 1985, theme rubric; Day & Rounds, 1998; Day, Rounds, & Swaney, 1998; Hansen, Scullard, & Haviland, 2000). However, Native American adolescents report career interest patterns that are dissimilar to those of adolescents from other ethnic groups. For example, Native American adolescents from rural, small town, and metropolitan areas report greater interests in Realistic and Conventional careers than do Caucasian American adolescents (Turner & Lapan, 2003b), and Native American inner-city adolescents report greater interests in protective services, working outdoors, professional arts, and social service careers than do inner-city Caucasian American adolescents (Turner & Lapan, 2003a). Native American adolescents also report less career self-efficacy than do Hispanic/Latino and Caucasian American adolescents (Lauver & Jones, 1991), and Native American adolescent girls report lower self-efficacy related to their futures than do African American, Hispanic, or Caucasian American girls (Amick, 1999).

In earlier studies, Native American adolescents reported greater occupational aspirations than expectations (Ludwig, 1984). In addition, when compared with non-Native adolescents, Native Americans reported significantly less confidence in their vocational skills ( Jerde, as cited in Krebs, Hurlburt, & Schwartz, 1988) and lower self-estimated abilities for Investigative, Social, and Enterprising careers (Krebs et al. …

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