Problems with and Needs for Interdisciplinary Interactions in Vocational Guidance

Article excerpt

This article summarizes 10 presentations in a discussion group of the 2007 joint international symposium of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, Society for Vocational Psychology, and National Career Development Association held in Padua, Italy. This discussion group focused on interdisciplinary interactions in vocational guidance. The group engaged in dialogue to address the changing needs of world workers in the dynamic global economy by considering interdisciplinary research and practice implications. This article summarizes the major discussion topics and offers propositions for a way for the vocational guidance profession to move forward on these issues.

Researchers and practitioners from eight countries (Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States) participated in a discussion on interdisciplinary interactions in vocational guidance at the international symposium of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, Society for Vocational Psychology, and National Career Development Association held in Padua, Italy. Consistent with the overarching goal of this joint symposium, this group engaged in international dialogue to address the changing needs of world workers in the dynamic global economy. The purpose of this discussion was to consider the interdisciplinary research and practice implications of the internationalization of educational and vocational guidance. This article summarizes the major discussion topics and offers propositions for a way for the vocational guidance profession to move forward on these issues.

Vocational guidance professionals are experiencing an increasing need to collaborate with experts from other fields, including economics, politics, and social and educational disciplines. Such interdisciplinary collaboration is thought to allow partners to examine difficult situations from divergent viewpoints to create an integrated collaborative environment and achieve innovative solutions to complex problems. The presentations that provided the stimulus for the discussion described the results of efforts to seek effective ways of combining the knowledge and skills of different professions to move the field forward. Hence, the goal of this group was to share knowledge and expertise regarding interdisciplinary solutions to global challenges in the research and practice of vocational guidance.

The Context of International Vocational Guidance

Globalization processes, information technology, and subsequent workplace transformations have significantly changed the way people work. Although opportunities for education, training, and work have increased for some, they have remained inaccessible for a growing majority of people throughout the world (Aisenson & Aisenson, 2007). For these individuals, global transformations have meant job precariousness and unemployment (Paugam, 2000), differential distribution of resources and material goods, intensified social inequality and poverty, growing insecurity, violence, and marginalization (Aisenson & Aisenson, 2007). Messeri (2007) identified two major structural changes that have occurred in most countries: increased technology and increased mobility and multiculturalism. He noted significant changes in social and vocational roles and new forms of relationships.

In the current economic and vocational environment, educational and vocational guidance is forced to confront complex problems in which diverse factors and processes (e.g., identity, self-construction) interact. Moreover, each of these processes has unique cultural, societal, and psychological dimensions. These observations led group participants to conclude that no single discipline can effectively solve problems that involve such varied dimensions. Attempts to do so would decontextualize problems and lead to ineffective interventions and missed opportunities for policy development. …

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