We live in a vast moving world with far-reaching changes taking place in the social, economic and political development. The nature and structure of work is rapidly changing as well as the systems in which people live and work. Work and career are more defined though not as definite. There are probably more people seeking jobs today than there were five years ago. Yet the jobs are fewer —though they seem to be paying higher salaries with a marked cut in the number of employees.
A new era in which careers have radically evolved and in which career education and guidance became more elaborate and decisive began over a decade ago, owing to a number of factors that we will examine in this article.
There is need to have a clear understanding of the dynamics of work and career.
While more and more people are seeking work and advancement in their careers, the values and principles of work have been transformed greatly in the last ten years. It is a fact that with greater advancement in technological and informational developments, the world will be experiencing even more drastic changes in organizations and career prospects. A simplistic perspective that one will complete school or higher education and get a job in a predominantly lucrative area is particularly depressing.
So where does all this place a person who is working, or better still, those seeking employment now and in the future? We need to take clues from the longer history of current and future trends as well as the reality of modern careers.
A Global world
The world has become more global. We accept one another much more because we have all realized we belong to a common race called humanity. We can therefore say we are more multicultural, multiracial and multilingual.
A major development in the world has been in issues of equity, fairness and justice for all. In terms of gender, we have all learnt — correctly — that we are all human beings not women or men. Subsequently, women deserve an equal opportunity just like men. So do persons with special needs. Women and persons with disability have entered into the labour force in record numbers. The world soon added phrases and vocabulary such as ‘economic restructuring’, ‘industrialization’, ‘technological advancement’, ‘computers’, ‘redundancy’ and ‘strategic management’. This new information age began to reorganize corporate performance by including words such as ‘vision’, ‘mission’, ‘goals’, ‘strategy’ and other pet names. This new ‘information age’ is well-versed with a ‘knowledge economy’ that has redefined management and administration. Today, organizations require better-educated and highly trained— and better-qualified— people to meet the demands of a modern economy.
|Job, Work and Career A job is a regular (and often) official activity that you do and in return receive money (salary) for your effort. It can be full time or part time. It is also called an occupation or profession such as accountant, banker, clergy, clerk, lawyer, manager, police officer or teacher. You look for a job, that is, seek employment in a job (activity). A job has a description. The word ‘work’ is more general than a job. This is because whereas a job is specific (occupation or profession), work is general. For example, I work in a bank, company, customer service, customs, office, school or university. Career is both job and work including the total progression of professional life. Course or progress through a life career could be specific (clergy, finance, journalist, lawyer, teacher) but also includes many different jobs you have been engaged in over the years. Thus your curriculum vitae will include different jobs and what you did (work) to make your career.|
Specific attention must be on the critical life contexts in which career and career development unfolds. This includes choice of subjects in school, courses in higher education (college and universities, including post graduate studies) and the employer (organizations, institution and government).
Career counselling is a response to the dynamics of work and career. The purpose of career counselling is to help understand career and career development. This includes the career’s goals and vision. Specifically, you can acquire skills and techniques to help understand and update knowledge and skills on careers.
It must be emphasized that careers are highly individualized. Hence, career counselling is a process. Career education and guidance is not as straightforward as connecting a potential employee with an employer. Decisions on careers are based on several considerations and we have to constantly re-interpret the past in successive efforts to better understand the present and forever changing, unpredictable future.
It must be emphasized that careers are highly individualized, and that career counselling is a process.
Many people consider a career as getting a job and getting paid. It is not even about the best possible match between jobs and workers by an enabling government (public service), organizations and other firms. Yet career counselling by itself is much more than advice and placement. Career selection includes:
(1) career goal and identification;
(2) career clarification, including terms and conditions of service; and,
(3) career specification including what is required (qualifications, accreditation and overall professionalism). Career information will therefore include interests and personalities, working conditions — including working alliance — and future prospects.
You need the following to make your career selection:
- Foundation knowledge and perspectives concerning career and career development.
- Career and career counselling process and phases.
Many people are employed in an area that is neither aligned with their professional training nor career interests. This is because people go for what is available rather than what is allied with their personal interests, values, abilities and skills. Many people also fail to re-orient their interests and potential to the job market, including seeking training and employment opportunities. This can lead to low job satisfaction, reduced productivity, poor career achievement, apathy and utter frustration. This is because many people lack the necessary information on the different types of careers, as well as their own interest and potentialities. Yet through effective career counselling, one can harmonise their career choices by matching the academic potentials with personal attributes, interests, values and available resources.
As an individual, you may need to update yourself on the ever-changing contexts and conditions of work. You may also wish to revisit your position. This may require that you revitalize how you conceptualize your career as well as future developments. In this case, you will look at both the general and specific aspects. Furthermore, you need to identify interventions, including qualitative and quantitative assessments, to enable you or someone else obtain information on three things:
(a) career goals;
(b) present prospects; and,
(c) future prospectus.
This involves an understanding and interpretation of information. Eventually, you must embark on interventions to assist in reaching desired goals or resolving career issues.
Both the nature and structure of individuals and organizational career development have been evolving. This in turn has provided counselling practitioners with new and sometimes unique ways of understanding and working with clients of all ages and circumstances. A career counsellor would offer advice in careers, obtaining employment and other aspects. Advice is needed by school-leavers, persons in employment who want to advance or change career, and many others such as persons facing redundancy. Teachers and parents also offer a lot of guidance on careers, some highly valuable and some obviously misplaced and misguided — sometimes to the detriments of the child.
Information on career counselling trends, issues, and practices has expanded substantially. There are several contextual variables that influence our world of work, careers and career development.
Kenya has had a history of career education with the establishment of guidance and counselling in schools. Teachers and other resource persons provide assistance in various ways and also advice on careers. This is an attempt to assist students to acquire the best of their career in ways that enhance their potential.
There are several contextual variables that influence our world of work, careers and career development.
The future and future perspectives
There is a lot of uncertainty and indecision about careers. The standard procedure is that careers will be much more demanding and aligned to social and economic changes. We must in turn keep abreast of these and other changes, including up-to-date information about your career as well as future prospects. Also, many jobs require a professional knowledge base, which is a prerequisite to being recruited and maintaining employment.
In the end, you must better understand and interpret career and career information. This must be a merger using concepts from traditional and new and emerging conceptualizations of career development. Today, you compete for principal jobs with members of your prime turf. This is because employment must be justified in terms of the effectiveness of your output and impact. There are other continuing expectations such as: ‘people must seek employment rather than pursue self-employment.’ The verdict must be your own effort including personality, qualification and expertise as well as other social skills.
Apex of your career
When you embark on a career, you begin working. In essence, you will work in different sections, organizations or companies. You will have a job description (worked as). With time, you progress in your career (working). Also, you can decide to progress in a general area or specialize (you are a lawyer and you pick on company law, just as a doctor can be an anaesthetist, gynaecologist, neurosurgeon). You can have a varied career, that is, in many different areas such as different companies, or working in diverse sections such as procurement, accounting, audit and finance. The height or peak of your career is the most successful point or apex.