Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling Research and Practice in Taiwan

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling Research and Practice in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa ("beautiful island"), is an island in East Asia. With limited natural resources, the country emphasizes human resources in its economic development. Therefore, career services and career counseling are very important for individual development. About 5 decades ago, career counseling in Taiwan started with vocational education for middle school students preparing to work after graduation. With the trends of a global economy, advanced technology, and a changing society, significant changes have occurred in the nature of work and the meaning of vocational education and career in Taiwan. In the 1970s, the meaning of work focused on earning a living. The main task of vocational guidance was simply to help graduates find a job. Now, a broadened meaning defines career as a lifelong process of learning and work. Career counseling, instead of vocational guidance, is therefore defined as a set of counseling services available for all individuals across the life span. Varieties of counseling activities need to be designed to assist individuals with the necessary skills to effectively manage career transitions and career development.

In this new era, career counseling cannot be viewed independently from the social context and public policy. With the progression of economics, technology, and social welfare in Taiwan, career counselors need to provide individuals with opportunities for career development. Counseling programs designed for individuals' potential development should be based in theory, and the effects of those programs need to be examined through research. For effective career counseling in diverse societies, advanced research is needed to verify the applicability of existing theories in a different culture. A primary purpose of this article, therefore, is to review and summarize empirical tests of the validity of various career theory constructs for use in the Taiwanese context.

Western Theories Applied in Chinese Society

Several studies testing Western career theories are summarized in this section, including Holland's hexagonal typology (Holland, 1973, 1985, 1994), Gati's Hierarchical Model (Gati, Krausz, & Osipow, 1996), Lent's social cognitive career theory (SCCT; Lent & Brown, 1996), and Swanson and Tokar's (1991) study on career barriers. We also discuss other theories, including the concepts of career adaptability and life design (Savickas, 1997), in relation to how they are recently applied indigenously to develop programs appropriate for Chinese people in Taiwan. In general, most of these theories were verified, but they require certain modification and further examination for the Chinese context.

Holland's Hexagonal Typology Versus Gati's Hierarchical Model

Holland's (1973, 1985, 1994) hexagonal typology has been examined in many countries. The six Holland personality types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (often referred to as RIASEC). The types that are closer to each other on the hexagon are more alike than the types are that farther apart (Einarsdóttir, Rounds, Ægisdóttir, & Gerstein, 2002). Results of the studies in Taiwan have supported the generalizability of the hexagonal structure but with some modification (Tien, 1996, 2009). Realistic and Investigative types are closer to each other, whereas Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional types are closer to one another.

An alternative RIASEC interest structure model is Gati's Hierarchical Model of vocational interests (Gati et al., 1996), in which Realistic and Investigative are in one group, Artistic and Social belong to the second group, and Enterprising and Conventional belong to the third group. Gati's model was indicated to be a better model for Taiwanese college students (Tien, 1996) because Gati's classification system corresponds to the classification system conducted for the College Entrance Examination in Taiwan, in which high school students choose from four groups of college majors before they enter college or university. …

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