The effect of a career guidance program on the career maturity levels of grade 11 and 12 learners
The single most common decision that people between the ages of 16 years and 22 years need to make is that of their career choice. Research in the field of career guidance has shown that the world of work is changing. It is generally accepted that an individual will be presented with many opportunities in the world of work and these give rise to the notion of multiple careers. To predict accurately what these opportunities might be is impractical and naive, if not impossible. Career guidance counsellors are now expected to understand the interrelationships between occupations and occupational groups; an understanding that is vital when providing a comprehensive and realistic career guidance service. The career guidance processes or programs that counsellors use, need to allow for the identification of base or entry level careers that will provide opportunity for both horizontal and vertical career movement. While the schooling system has traditionally been the primary role player in preparing learners for the world of work, recent budgetary cuts have forced schools to focus on academic subjects, and, as a result, career guidance as a subject has become ancillary to the school syllabus. This situation is unlikely to be remedied unless career guidance becomes an examinable subject as are mathematics, physical science, biology and so on. A literature study surrounding career guidance practices in South Africa and career choice and development theories from around the world, suggest that existing career guidance programs in South Africa need to be restructured to allow for a more comprehensive solution for learners, that need to make a career choice. The "PACE" career guidance program was designed to enhance the career knowledge of learners, increase their self awareness in relation to careers, and ultimately to accelerate the career maturity process. Learners from schools in East London were exposed to the program, with the intention of determining the effect of the program on their career maturity levels. Whilst certain elements which constitute career maturity were not influenced by the program, results obtained from the research indicated a significant increase in the overall career maturity level of these learners. Resulting from this dissertation, recommendations have been made relating to the length of a career guidance program, the point of departure and the point of exit, the importance of balancing realism with circumstances, and the necessity for career guidance practitioners to possess a thorough understanding of careers and the various paths that careers may follow. Suggestions regarding further research in the area of career guidance are also provided.
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