Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Guidance in Singapore Schools

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Guidance in Singapore Schools

Article excerpt

Career guidance in Singapore schools went through 3 stages of development. The focus in the Ist stage was on information-giving. A curriculum approach was adopted in the 2nd stage when career education became part and parcel of the school curriculum. The 3rd stage saw the integration of career guidance with information technology and the shift of the role of the career teachers from "expert" to "facilitator." To meet the challenges of the new millennium, there is a need to train professional career counselors, develop indigenous resource materials, and promote a new concept of career development among students.

In Singapore, a city-state of 4 million people, the development of career guidance in schools went through three stages, spanning three decades. In the first stage, lasting almost two decades from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, the main focus of career guidance was on information-- giving. The late 1980s saw the introduction of the curriculum stage when career education became part and parcel of the regular school curriculum. The third stage, from 1996 to the present, is characterized by the integration of technology into career guidance, the emergence of professional training for career counselors, and the development of indigenous resource materials. This article presents an overview of the three stages of development in career guidance and looks ahead to challenges in the new millennium.

First Stage: Information-Giving (1965-1986)

In Singapore, the development of career guidance has been very much influenced by the evolution of the education system, which went through several reform movements after the country gained independence in 1965. In the early years of nation building in the 1960s and 1970s, the education system was "survival-driven" and the focus of education policy was on educating the masses and raising the standard of literacy. Thus, much effort was spent on fostering social cohesion, developing a national identity, and emphasizing technical education to support economic growth. Because the ultimate goal was "survival," the urgent task was to create jobs to support the economy and train workers to fill these posts. This explained why vocational training was given top priority while the main concern in career guidance in schools was information-giving to familiarize the students with the world of work. Although the Ministry of Education had a "Career Guidance Unit" staffed with career guidance officers, its primary function was to provide occupational information booklets as resource materials for the schools. All the secondary schools were asked to appoint a career teacher whose main responsibility was to make regular visits to the Guidance Unit at the Ministry to collect these career information booklets. Back at the schools, these booklets were placed on the library shelves for display as resource materials for the students.

The information-giving approach was based on three assumptions: (a) that the students were motivated to use the materials provided, (b) that they knew beforehand what kind of information to look for, and (c) that they knew how to use the information once they had located it. The fact was, without encouragement and proper guidance from the teachers, many students were not motivated to look for occupational information, let alone use it for career planning. As reported by the National Productivity Council Task Force on Career Guidance in Schools, the Career Guidance Unit at the Ministry of Education was disbanded in 1979. Two reasons were given for this decision, First, the system in operation at that time was considered ineffective because the mere distribution of descriptive pamphlets on occupational information without proper guidance from trained personnel was not only inadequate but could misguide the students. Second, because the Ministry of Labour was already active in providing occupational information, there was no need to duplicate that function (Sim, 1985). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.