Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Adaptability in Childhood

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Adaptability in Childhood

Article excerpt

Childhood marks the dawn of vocational development, involving developmental tasks, transitions, and change. Children must acquire the rudiments of career adaptability to envision a future, make educational and vocational decisions, explore self and occupations, and problem solve. The authors situate child vocational development within human life span and life course development paradigms and career development theory. They then consider the theoretical origins of career adaptability and examine it as a critical construct for construing vocational development. Two models derived from career construction theory offer guides for research and counseling practice designed to foster development through work and other social roles.

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

-Graham Greene (1940, p. 15)

Childhood signifies the threshold of vocational development and involves an active period of preliminary self-engagement in the world of work (Hartung, Porfeli, & Vondracek, 2005). The opportunities and experiences of childhood typically serve to arouse curiosities, fantasies, interests, and capacities as children playfully construct future possible selves to be realized in work and other social roles (Ginzberg, Ginsburg, Axelrad, & Herma, 1951; Mead, 1932; Super, 1990). Although play has long been characterized as a childhood activity, children in today's increasingly complex world often find less time for unstructured play because of escalating pressures to engage in organized and routinized school, extracurricular, and other activities that make childhood less and less a period of cultural moratorium involving freedom from work and responsibility (Zinnecker, 1995). Children must learn to imagine, explore, and problem solve in order to construct a viable work future consistent with cultural imperatives reflected in family and community contexts.

Career counselors who take a developmental perspective realize that children must accrue an array of experiences that promote foundational attitudes, beliefs, and competencies for envisioning a future, making career decisions, exploring self and occupations, and shaping their life careers. These attitudes, beliefs, and competencies represent core dimensions of career adaptability as it has evolved as an important construct in the theory and practice of career construction (Savickas, 2002a).

Adaptability has become an essential characteristic of workers in the modern world. Serial careers are becoming the norm in today's rapidly changing workforce, necessitating ongoing career transitions across the life span (Porfeli & Vondracek, in press). Recognizing childhood as the dawn of vocational development and the centrality of career adaptability across the life span in the modern world, we assert that the antecedents of career adaptability are established during the childhood period. We begin by situating child vocational development within the human life span and life course development paradigms and career development theory. Subsequently, we consider the theoretical origins of the career adaptability construct and demonstrate how it has become a critical construct for construing vocational development within career construction theory (Savickas, 2002a, 2005b). VVe conclude this article by asserting that career construction theory provides a guide for research and counseling practice that is designed to promote individual development across the life span through work and other social roles.

Child Vocational Development in Context

Childhood has long been considered within the frameworks of developmental psychology, developmental sociology, and life span vocational psychology. These frameworks offer distinct yet interrelated perspectives on childhood that are useful for comprehending the structure, function, and process of career development in childhood and across the life span. Each of these perspectives contributes to an understanding of career adaptability as it is rooted in development during childhood. …

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