1. AMERICA'S CareerInfoNet - Informed Career Decisions
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is the gist of the talk prepared for the Teachers Teach Teachers Presentation on Oct. 10, 2000
Peg in a Round Hole:
Let me outline my plan for the morning.
I would like to initially speak to you about the relevance of careers
guidance within the present educational context.
Then I’ll list some of my favorite web sites that you are “free”
to visit to find additional information. We
would then spend some time to complete a paper and pencil inventory on learning
styles. I will like to take a few
minutes in the end to answer some of your questions and provide feedback on what
you have gained from this talk. Please
feel free at any time to interrupt my talk if you have any questions.
The title is not to be dismissed as "just another
cliché" - as there is so much home truth in clichés too. Over 2500 years
ago, Heraclitus was supposed to have remarked…
only constant is change’
It has been estimated that in the 21st century,
the average job seeker would have changed jobs about eight times and career four
times. Although this sounds like a
mantra for the year 2000, it was prophesied in the late 1960s by British
cybernetician Sir Leon Bagrit.
To compound the problem further technology seems to be
growing in leaps and bounds. Another mastermind of cybernetics, Norbert Weiner
has summarized this appropriately:
live effectively is to live with adequate information’
I believe gathering career information by networking and
doing research in high school would give the students more power to control
their lives later. To quote from the National Curriculum Handbook for teachers
in England: Key Stages 3 & 4 (1999)
education contributes to pupils' personal effectiveness through its emphasis on
transferable skills such as decision making, handling information critically,
self-awareness, action planning and
review, negotiating and self-presentation.
Pupils can use these skills to manage their self-development and career
exploration as well as their career plans, decisions and routes.’
In this part of the world, private institutions do not
budget for providing guidance. In
any case most of the students who graduate from the schools do go on to
universities and the school is not under any pressure for providing such
service. Nevertheless, the
importance of careers education in the UK can be seen and understood from the
staggering 84 million pounds increase in the budget from 134 million pounds to
218 million pounds earmarked in The Competitiveness White Paper.
The seriousness of this is evident from the ongoing Pilot
scheme of the UK government’s intention to provide a personal advisor for
every student from the academic year 2001 onwards under the umbrella of
Connexions. It is their belief that
though this and Citizenship the students would be suitably equipped for adult
life. The concept of a
personal advisor to every student has been in vogue in the US for a long time
It's unfortunate that most people do not put much thought
into their choice of their career. It is a very complex decision to make and
maybe the complexity of it turns people off.
The dilemma in this process was corroborated when I found from my
readings on educational literature that there are well over sixty factors that
have been cited which could influence one's career choice.
For convenience, I have classified most of these factors under three
You would find the major factors listed under the first
website suggested on page 4. When I
spoke to some of the students at Emirates International School about how their
institution had/had not helped them making their career decisions, it was very
heartening to see the students say with confidence that the challenging IB
curriculum had given them a head start, and the EIS clientele along with their
teacher’s encouragement was of immense help too. Some of them did moan that we do not have a system of
personalized careers guidance in this school and that they would have liked to
have received more personalized guidance and work experience through the aegis
of the school.
Research has repeatedly shown that a comprehensive careers
education program in the high school helps motivate the students to:
the school in a more positive atmosphere
greater satisfaction in learning
The ideal careers education program must kindle a spark in
the students by helping them identify their passion in life.
Often I have been queried at social gatherings why I had chosen to become
a teacher. The answer had always been that education was my passion even
from school. On examining this
answer further during my dissertation work, I found that it could well have been
the inspiration provided by my English teacher who taught us briefly for about
eight months in Grade 10. I
certainly held him in awe and possibly absorbed some of the power he had as an
excellent teacher. In my opinion the students at school tend to hold a greater
amount of curiosity. Therefore it
was vital to funnel them with wisdom so that they can slowly narrow their
interests over time.
As a word of caution, in all this it is important to bear
in mind that there are always people with multiple interests and may
deliberately want to pursue several careers during their lives.
Researchers such as Hodkinson (1995) have called for a need for
discretion while guiding young people make their ‘correct’ career decisions
when they leave school
I believe careers guidance is an
integral part of education. The choice of careers was mainly the choice of the
family elders, sometimes, the directives of the head of the family. In the Gulf
News of October 7, 2000 Dr. confirmed this It was always the “doctor, lawyer,
engineer” syndrome and the children were willy-nilly fitted into the chosen
compartment – (a little like Procrustes, I am afraid.)
In my family, I know of two
persons who abandoned medical school midway - one after he first year, and the
other after the third year. They realized that they were just not cut out to be
doctors. One went on to head an insurance company, and the other has majored in
A cousin of mine joined the most
renowned college of catering technology at Manipal in India - but not even a
year has gone by - and he is back home. Reason - he could not get through the
Food and Beverages part of it because he swooned or threw up whenever he had to
witness the cutting of meat and poultry.
Sometimes we think that the
children are getting enough information, guidance and advice about their future
careers, but in actual fact, it is not enough.
There is a wealth of information on the web and the careers room in a
school. After speaking to
some of the students last year I realized that they needed to be guided even
here and it was not enough for them to have information available. It is easy to
get lost in this information jungle! My
point in all this talk is to let you go away thinking about this:
issue Square Peg in a Round Hole is not about careers alone, it
all about choices - the right choices. It is not about just a "job"
"job satisfaction". It is not about finding a Career, but about
This does not mean that I am
overlooking the monetary aspect of a career. It is just that today there are so
many choices available, and many lucrative professions other than the usual
careers that have for decades straitjacketed the students once they graduate
from Grade 12. The Canadian
Embassy’s Education Advisor had at one time last year remarked that she has
always been surprised at the consistency of the parents and students’
It is an increasingly stressful
world, and it is necessary to find happiness in what you do. What is going to
make a child succeed is the guidance he gets through school, and out of school.
Of course children are ably
guided by their parents and nurturing adults. But every so often we find that
parents cannot always be objective about the child's interests, abilities,
passions and talents. Whereas at school, the teacher or advisor would have the
objectivity of a third person in viewing the child without any "parallax
errors" - so to speak.
Careers guidance plays a pivotal
role, not only in offering advise, information and assistance to the students,
but also in shaping them to fit into the future world – a world that would be
their arena when they become responsible adults.
The advisor has a whole
repertoire of resource material. Not only can the advisor assess the talent,
capacity, interests and skills of the child, but he/she can also administer
certain tests that can help focus on salient features of the quest for careers.
These tests are today widely used in some parts of the
world to provide some signposts for the individual’s personality and aptitude.
They are presently not favor in some other parts of the world but the
students I had spoken to repeatedly remark how useful they found these tests to
be. We have to bear in mind that all tests basically
discriminate. Notwithstanding the mental make-up of the student at the time of
taking a test, they do raise questions of reliability and validity. Nevertheless I believe that its use could be justified on the
1. More than half of the sixty factors mentioned at the
beginning influencing career choices were personal. Only a sixth was institutional and the remaining third was
2. Testing would be appropriate if the ethical consideration can be upheld and an
given while reporting.
3. Testing tends to be frowned upon even in the
west only because a clear
rationale is not always
But here too, there are pitfalls if we think that they are
exhaustive, and not illustrative.
Meanwhile thanks for reading through this and do visit the battery of Career Interest Inventories under the Tests Link in my webpage.