Career Development and the High School Student

The concept of a career has radically changed from an earlier time when many workers remained in a job for life. The world of work is such an ever changing entity now that young adults need to be equipped with the skills and confidence to manage their own careers throughout life. They will need to be very flexible because they will probably need to make many changes in their work roles during their adult lives. These may include moving from full time to part time work, from large global organisations to self-employment, from contractual to more permanent positions, from periods of unemployment to casual work and so on. Young people will also face the need for lifelong learning so that they can keep pace with new technologies and the ever changing demands of the labour market. They are also likely to need to be open to making complete shifts from one occupational field to another depending on their circumstances at various points in their lives.

Career Development is a term used to describe progression through a sequence of jobs that involve the recurring advancement of skills and exposure to a growing diversity of activities leading to greater responsibility, status and higher remuneration. Employers were once considered accountable for the career development of their employees, however, one’s career development is now more commonly viewed as being the personal responsibility of each worker. Career development is also now regarded as involving more than simply the job role a person fulfils. It encompasses all life roles and how they are managed and balanced out. Hence, career development is about the process of managing your life, your education and training as well as your work.

The process of career development actually begins with self-reflection. This is a very important skill for young people to engage in and surprisingly, one which they are not very good at! It involves being realistic and discovering answers to questions such as; Who am I? What do I like doing? What are my strengths? What are my interests? What do I need to learn? What do I value? Where do I want to live? What sort of life do I want to lead?

Career development is so much more than deciding upon the first job one aims for once leaving school. It’s about self-reflection, researching the world of work, goal setting, decision-making, and undertaking ongoing learning as well as reviewing plans and becoming proficient at self-management. It’s about one’s whole life, frequently recycling constructive competencies and developing new and productive process skills using a confident and determined approach in order to live the life you want.

© Lee-Ann Prideaux PhD