Career Guidance and Youth’s Employability Dynamics in Some Selected Secondary Schools in Douala III, Cameroon

London Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume | Issue | Compilation
Authored by Dr. Roland Kum Bama , Kum Isobert NNAM
Classification: For Code: 139999
Keywords: Career guidance, young people, employability dynamics, career choice assistance, career exploration and career fairs.
Language: English

The selection of a career is one of the utmost imperative decisions an individual always makes. It necessitates appropriate guidance from an appropriate person. Effective career guidance addresses issues of instruction, occupational choices, training choices, in-demand skills, career management, economic development and bearing on employment market, available career options and relationship to individual interests and talents as well as sought-after skills by employers. It immensely helps youth to make confident, tailored, informed, and insightful career choices. This paper examined career guidance as an effective instrument to increase young people’s employability in some selected schools in Douala III Sub-Division. The study investigated how career choice assistance, career exploration and career fairs impact employment of young people. The cross sectional survey design was used. A sample of 137 respondents was drawn from two secondary schools in Douala, with the use of the purposive, convenience and simple random sampling techniques. A questionnaire was used for data collection. Inferential statistics were applied for the testing of hypotheses at a 5% level of significance. The findings revealed that; there existed a significant relationship between career choice assistance, career exploration as well as career fairs and young people’s employability. It was thus recommended that the school should regularly organise open door days wherein experienced individuals share career information and real life experiences with learners. Counsellors and career experts should provide adequate career guidance to learners, to enable them make appropriate career choices based on their ability, endowments, aptitude, capability, fitness, interest, etc; and the secondary school curriculum should provide for career guidance. Carer guidance being a lifetime process calls for early initiation in an individual’s life.

               

Career Guidance and Youth’s Employability Dynamics in Some Selected Secondary Schools in Douala III, Cameroon

Roland Kum BAMA PhDα & Kum Isobert NNAMσ

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ABSTRACT        

The selection of a career is one of the utmost imperative decisions an individual always makes. It necessitates appropriate guidance from an appropriate person. Effective career guidance addresses issues of instruction, occupational choices, training choices, in-demand skills, career management, economic development and bearing on employment market, available career options and relationship to individual interests and talents as well as sought-after skills by employers. It immensely helps youth to make confident, tailored, informed, and insightful career choices. This paper examined career guidance as an effective instrument to increase young people’s employability in some selected schools in Douala III Sub-Division. The study investigated how career choice assistance, career exploration and career fairs impact employment of young people. The cross sectional survey design was used. A sample of 137 respondents was drawn from two secondary schools in Douala, with the use of purposive, convenience and simple random sampling techniques. A questionnaire was used for data collection. Inferential statistics were applied for the testing of hypotheses at a 5% level of significance. The findings revealed that; there existed a significant relationship between career choice assistance, career exploration as well as career fairs and young people’s employability. It was thus recommended that the school should regularly organise open door days wherein experienced individuals share career information and real life experiences with learners. Counsellors and career experts should provide adequate career guidance to learners, to enable them make appropriate career choices based on their ability, endowments, aptitude, capability, fitness, interest, etc; and the secondary school curriculum should provide for career guidance. Career guidance being a lifetime process calls for early initiation in an individual’s life.

Keywords: career guidance, young people, employability dynamics, career choice assistance, career exploration and career fairs.

Authorα: Faculty of Education, University of Bamenda, Cameroon.

σ: University of Buea

  1. INTRODUCTION 

School graduates stand at the dawn of their careers, seeking meaningful and gainful work in a labour market that is characterised by unpredictable change and globalisation. This new world of work requires flexibility, versatility, and creativity skills not customarily required of an employee. Graduates nowadays are inevitably expected to develop a skill-set that enables proactive career behaviour and, furthermore, aids the employer to use such abilities as business solutions. Today’s employers are not only looking for skills specific to the job but are also seeking for persons who possess general job skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organizing, self-management, learning, and technology.  People may not feel they have any such job skills but if they are dependable, easy to get along with, and open to learning new things, this is a clear indication they possess such indispensable employability skills (i.e. the skills needed to be work ready). There is a lack of consensual scientific knowledge available on employability, despite the rise in its prominence to the 21st century employer and graduate employee. This is especially true for Cameroon context. This paper on career guidance and youth’s employability dynamics facilitates college graduates toward their employability through the effective use of career guidance programmes and services. The effectiveness of school based career guidance program prepares the students toward the global challenges of the 21st century in the field of work. The students choose a career direction which facilitates them to enrol in courses that are suitable and necessary to achieve their personal aspirations and career success (Stone, 2005).

In school, career counsellors render services to cater for the needs of students toward appropriate career decisions through career guidance programmes. They facilitate employability among their students by equipping them with the right skills, experiences and attitudes required in the workforce. They are the master initiators for students to be functionally accomplished to understand that their present course preferences would influence their future educational and career choices. They are obliged to address career concerns through the implementation of career programmes that permit the counsellors to increase students’ competences towards employability trends. The success in the labour market requires the use of effective career management strategies as a supplement to educational and vocational expertise. The thrust of educational institutions is to assist students in preparing for their careers (Hirshi, 2009).

The necessity of career guidance and planning programmes in schools is to attain basic principles attached to career preparation and enhance the expansion of career decisiveness. The employability of graduates can be considered as an instrument to measure the effectiveness of the standards and policies of school attended. Graduates’ employability can be assessed as a relevant academic input to the study programmes such as courses that are taught, programme design, availability of educational equipment, students’ skills, behaviour, and career graduate attributes from the perspective of the alumni themselves and their employees. Therefore, Cameroon schools in general and those in Douala III in particular are bound to elevate career guidance programmes and services to soothe changes toward student development and attain the right job or employment after graduation. This is because the objectives of having career guidance services in school are to enhance the connection between schools and industry, thereby enriching the employability of graduates. With this concept in mind, the study was undertaken in order to address the career guidance effectiveness and youth’s employability dynamics among some selected schools in Douala III.

1.1  Tracing the Development of Career Guidance and Employment Trends of the 21st Century

Prior to the late 19th century, little was available in the form of career guidance for those searching for a job. At the outset, career guidance was known as vocational guidance. Most work prospects developed from close community acquaintances such as family, peers, friends and perhaps church. The turn of the 20th century saw a rise in immigration, resulting in an increased need for a more organized effort to help people find jobs. The Vocational Guidance Movement was the forerunner to career counselling. It began in 1907, when the grandfather of vocational guidance, Frank Parsons, fashioned the leading approach of career guidance. In 1908, he initiated the Vocational Bureau of Boston, with an assignment of assisting people to ascertain what careers were available. His theories were rooted in first improving working conditions, then focusing on the individual workers' needs. Parsons' approach was dedicated to making people more in tune with their skills, talents and interests, thus leading to the right fit for a career. The mid-20th century brought several changes to the work force and with it, some changes to the career counselling industry. When World War II ended, more women and veterans were in the workforce with higher education levels. Technological development increased, opening new types of jobs and the call for certain abilities and talents.

Career information, guidance and counselling services are envisioned to benefit individuals, of whichever age and point in their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers. Training institutions should be designed to get ready individuals for work with occupational guidance helping to sort individuals in line with their abilities so that they find a suitable job upon school completion. Such academic institutions should help learners shed light on career goals and understand the world of work through personal or group-based assistance with decisions concerning preliminary courses of study, courses of vocational training, initial job choice, and job change among others. Groot, W., & van den Brink (2000) posit that career guidance refers to assistance given to individuals, or group of individuals in addressing problems related to occupational and life choices, offering full opportunities for personal development and work satisfaction. Career, according to Okobiah and Okorodudu (2005), refers to a variety of work and non-work situations which usually span through the entire life of an individual. According to them, career is generally related to a pattern of decision, transaction and adjustments which affect one’s role at work, education, family, community development and leisure. The United States National Career Development Association (NCDA, 2003) stated that “career is the totality of work – paid and unpaid one does in his/her lifetime”. Thus, career embraces a sequence of positions, jobs or occupations which an individual holds during his/her lifetime. Career counselling is a field of counselling which gives relevant information regarding different careers. It is a process of helping and empowering people in their career development. Career counselling helps learners to select their careers according to their choices and interests. Fugate and Kinicki (2008) noted that career counselling involves three steps: self-analysis, occupational analysis, and true reasoning or counselling to relate personal and occupational information. Therefore, it would be appropriate to conclude that career guidance, fosters a person’s self-awareness, self-directedness, and life abilities to set worthwhile objectives, to incessantly acquire and increase worth to their future place of work and explore feasible education. Our schools should provide accurate and all-inclusive information, instil indebtedness for the worth of all employments and its contribution to the appropriate growth of society, and endow learners with skills and resources to involve their parents and other career influencers.

The history of guidance and counselling can be traced back to America in the late 1890s and in the early 1990s. Frank Parsons who is considered as the grandfather of Vocational Guidance was among the pioneers of guidance and counselling movement. Through his efforts, guidance and counselling became an organized service and it gained recognition for its important contribution to society. Parsons (1908) established the first institution in the United States of American, and set the pace for the development of psychological testing. Increasingly, the guidance and counselling movement developed into an organized service, which has had a sustained significant contribution to the development of society (Makinde, 1984).

Important support towards the growth of guidance and counselling also came from Weaver (1972). She provided help to students who had difficulties upon leaving New York City schools. The movement spread throughout the country as wildfire and groups with the same vision came up in other cities. These efforts led to the creation of the National Vocational Guidance Association (N.V.G.A) and the hosting of a conference in 1910 in Boston. The vocational guidance bulletin was published at the end of this conference. Later on, other organizations in favour of guidance on vocations joined the National Vocational Guidance Association to form the American Personnel and Guidance Association (A.P.G.A, 1952) surfaced. During the 1920s and 1930s the role of counselling evolved beyond focusing on vocational issues only. It was recognised that beside the need for an appropriate vocation for the student, other domains such as social, personal, and educational dimensions of a student's life equally required attention. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s resulted to the limitation of funds for counselling programs. Additional support for the work of counsellors in the USA came following a Presidential Committee recommendation and passage of the George Dean Act in 1938 wherein funds were directly provided for vocational guidance and counselling. In the 1980s, the principles, standards and benchmarks for the training of school counsellors were put in place. The educational system in general and counselling programs in particular were seriously evaluated. To ensure that schools provide sufficient learning opportunities for persons with disabilities, school counsellors were educated to adapt the learning milieu to the needs of students. The responsibilities and functions of counsellors took a new dimension. They were given the duty to be caretakers of and follow up the Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and Student Study Teams (SST) as well as act as consultants to teachers of special education, particularly in the aftermath of the coming into place of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In Cameroon, guidance and counselling can be traced back to the 1940s, with an in-service unit in counselling opened in the Public Works Department (Ndongko & Leke, 2000). It however underwent a series of changes in naming, for instance in 1949, it was called the Centre for Psychological Counselling and Vocational Choice (C.P.C.V.C.). In 1963, this name changed from C.P.V.C to the Service of Vocational Guidance and Psychological Studies of Labour Problems. It was thus placed under the Secretariat for Labour and linked to the focal point of Secondary Education, where it is well rooted up to this moment. The focal point of counselling in Cameroon has been to enable students understand and accept who they are, so that the innate talents can be discovered and used efficiently to make life more meaningful.

  1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. Unfortunately, many people make career choices without adequate guidance. The importance of career guidance also holds true for students who are choosing a school for furtherance of their education and ultimately choosing their major. A major turning point in adolescents' lives therefore, involves the career choice that they make while in school and especially high school. Frequently, it is viewed by family and community as a mere start to workplace readiness. However, this decision plays a determinant role in establishing youth in a career path that opens as well as closes opportunities, particularly, given the differences in the social and economic context of university-bound versus work-bound adolescents. In every country, particularly Cameroon, youth face the challenge of deciding on a career path and beginning their professional lives, often while traversing a fragile and constantly changing labour market. Though having an education and in-demand skills are crucial components, youth need more to achieve enduring success. They need to know how their economy is growing and evolving, and how this impacts the job scenery. They need to understand how the available career options relate to their own interests and talents. And they need to develop the vital skills that employers seek, while gaining relevant experience for the workplace. Effective career guidance addresses these issues, helping youth to make confident, tailored, informed, and insightful career choices. Therefore, career development, for most people, is a lifetime process of engaging the work world through choosing among employment openings made available to them. Each individual undertaking the process is influenced by many factors, including the context in which they live, their personal aptitudes, and educational attainment (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001).

Most students do not consider career guidance as a significant issue. Hence, they have no or very little realization about the importance of career guidance. They get into careers without a thought about career guidance, meanwhile, career guidance is a very imperative aspect of life today. In fact, it can make or break your career. At this point, one would want to know the role that career guidance plays in increasing young people’s employability in Cameroon and particularly, Douala. This study therefore, pondered on whether career choice assistance, career exploration and career fairs impact employment among youth.

Goals of the Study

  • To examine career choice assistance and young people’s employability.
  • To find out career exploration and employment of young people.
  • To establish career fairs and employment of young people.

Research Questions

  • To what level does career choice assistance improve young people employability?
  • To what extent does career exploration influence employment among young people?
  • To what extent do career fairs influence employment among young people?

Hypotheses

  • There is no relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability.
  • There is no significant relationship career exploration and young people’s employability.
  • There is no significant relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability.
  1. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

For a vivid understanding of the issues raised, the conceptual framework is analysed into the career choice assistance and young people’s employability, career exploration and young people’s employability, career fairs and young people’s employability (figure 1).  

Employability denotes a person’s ability to gain employment. It refers to a person’s capabilities of gaining initial employment, maintaining employment and obtaining new employment if need be. Simply put, employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work, while comprehensively it is the capability to move self-sufficiently within the labour market to realize potential through sustainable employment (Brown & Hesketh, 2004). De Grip, VanLoo and Sanders (2004) considered employability as the capacity and the willingness of workers to remain attractive for the labour market by reacting and anticipating on changes in tasks and work environment, facilitated by the human resource development instruments offered to them. This means that being employable involves both the capacity and the willingness to be and to remain attractive for the labour market, by anticipating changes in tasks and work environment and reacting to them. Olakotan (2010) explained that graduates’ employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitudes they possess, the way they use those assets and present them to employers and the context (e.g. personal circumstances and labour market environment) within which they seek.

An alternative explanation of employability takes a more relative approach. Brown and Hesketh (2004) defined employability as the relative chances of getting and maintaining different kinds of employment. While most people view employability in absolute terms, focusing on the need for individuals to obtain credentials, knowledge and social status, the concept of employability can also be seen as subjective and dependent on contextual factors. Brown and Hesketh (2004) state that ‘Employability not only depends on whether one is able to fulfil the requirements of specific jobs, but also on how one stands relative to others within a hierarchy of job seekers’. This challenges the idea that credentials, knowledge and social status alone will guarantee a good position in the labour market. With the move to a more knowledge based economy, it is widely thought that there is an increasing demand for high-calibre managerial talent. However, a focus on obtaining skills in order to gain good employment has led to an over-supply of graduates and a larger number of candidates racing for the same top jobs. Brown and Hesketh argued that there is a clear mismatch between individuals’ expectations of employability and the realities posed by the labour market. Under these conditions, students would use a number of strategies in the labour market to maintain competitive advantage. Brown and Hesketh identify two ideal types of individuals entering the labour market. The above view of employability incorporates the dual aspect of supply and demand of labour to show that advancing one’s position in the labour market by gaining credentials is partially dependent on structural factors outside the individual’s control.

Entry into the world of work is contingent upon having employability skills required by the workplace. Heldrich (2005) asserts that it is difficult to find graduates who are well prepared and that possess the skills needed to be successful in the place of work. Preparing students for the workplace requires that instructional contents in educational institutions should be improved by making it more relevant to what is happening in the workplace. Carnevale, Gainer and Meltzer (1990) in Olakotan (2010) asserted that to help learners acquire relevant skills, educators need to teach future employees how to make decisions, how to solve problems, how to learn, how to think a job through from start to finish, and how to work with people to get the job done. Carnevale, Gainer and Meltzer also pointed out that educators need to link the teaching of academic subjects to real work applications and work with employers to strengthen the link between learning in school and learning on the job.

3.1 Career Choice Assistance

Career selection is one of many important choices students make in determining their future plans. This decision would impact them throughout their lives. The essence of who the student is will revolve around what the student wants to do with their life-long work. Basavage (1996, p.1) in her thesis asked, “What is it that influences children one way or another?” Over the school’s front door at Rindge School of Technical Arts (USA) is the saying, “Work is one of our greatest blessings. Everyone should have an honest occupation” (Rosenstock & Steinberg, cited in O’Brien, 1996, p. 3). Every student carries the unique history of their past and this determines how they view the world. That history created, in part by the student’s environment, personality, and opportunity, will determine how students make career choices. It then follows that how the student perceives their environment, personality, and opportunity also will determine the career choices students make.

3.2  Career Exploration

Finding a job can be very challenging for youth. They need to determine what careers are available, what their interests are, and what skills they have or need to develop. Career exploration therefore is a continual process that requires collecting information about oneself and information about careers. It involves thinking about a career, or having a good idea of where one is heading to, engaging in self-assessment, career research, and experiences that enhances skills and builds upon strengths possessed (Cornell Career Services). Vik Vein (2019) considers that career exploration is the second step in planning one’s career. The initial step is self-assessment, where students learn about their skills, personality, interests, values, and aptitudes. After applying different techniques for collecting this information, they get a list of careers that are a good choice for applicants that have traits that are similar to theirs. Career exploration is the process of; learning about oneself and the world of work, identifying and exploring potentially satisfying occupations, and developing an effective strategy to realize goals. This points to the need to have a mastery of one’s skills, interests and values. As a consequence, career exploration improves students' knowledge of career options, encouraging them to develop and work toward goals during the critical years when they are also beginning to venture beyond the orbit of their parents.

3.3  Career Fairs

A job fair, also referred to commonly as a career fair or career expo is speed dating for companies and professional job seekers. A job fair is an event in which employers, recruiters and schools give information to potential employees. Job seekers attend these while trying to make a good impression to potential co-worker’s by speaking face-to-face with one another, filling out resumes and asking questions in attempt to get a good feel on the work needed. Likewise, online job fairs are help, giving job seekers another way to get in contact with probable employers using the internet, meet with employees in an informal setting to learn more about job and internship opportunities offered by companies, government agencies and non-profit organisations where an individual might like to work. (Cornell Career Services). Learners attend career fairs to learn about companies and opportunities in their field of interest or study, prepare early for future careers, meet employers with available positions, confirm application deadlines and interview dates, and learn about graduate and professional school programs. Figure one below illustrates these key variables (independent and dependent) of the study.  

Figure 1: Diagram showing the relationship between the main variables of the study

 Figure one shows the relationship between the main variables (career guidance and young people’s employability) of the study.

  1. DYNAMIC NATURE OF CAREERS AND CAREER COUNSELLING

Understanding and taking advantage of complex dynamics has become more and more important for career counsellors. Classical scientific reasoning is linear and deductive. It proves to be useful and efficient to apply a general law (e.g. human beings die) to distinct cases. By analogy and for decades now, traditional career counselling desperately looked for such linear relationships between lone ‘causes’ (e.g. abilities, interests) and their foreseeable ‘consequences’ (e.g. professional choice, career development).  Unfortunately, neither the ‘law’ that interests or abilities are sufficient to obtain any ‘job’ or ‘training’ opportunities, nor even the premise that these prerequisites remain stable or at least predictable, are valid any more. During actual processes of resolving professional challenges, not only premises but also definitions of the challenges themselves endlessly evolve in an interactive manner. Chains of causality multiply, become complex and permanently change, sometimes complicated by the influence of mutually dependent components. Non-linear relationships are the rule, while simple and linear casualties remain the exception.

This challenge, however, also opens unexpected opportunities to position life-designing as a science of understanding and management of such multifaceted interactive problem solving processes at the interface of numerous other traditional disciplines (Haynes, 1992). Rather than continue to apply conventional reasoning, which has not proven to be false but rather weak in our field, we should develop more adequate forms of reasoning, taking advantage of better understanding of interaction, complexity and dynamics. In other terms, we have to replace the prevalent linear (or ‘medical’) sequence (e.g. 1. differential diagnosis, 2. indication, and 3. prescription of choice/treatment) by shared or even circular interventions (e.g. identifying invariants and variable elements in client’s interaction with his/her environment, formulating dynamical hypotheses, exploring the space of potential changes, testing different solutions). A single contact thus would rarely be sufficient, for life-designing, dynamical reasoning needs time. Moreover, introducing and developing dynamic reasoning in the field of counselling –for the time being– predominantly depends on ideas and concepts developed in other disciplines such as mathematics, physics, thermodynamics, biology or meteorology (Gleick, 1988).

Given the advances in technology, increased workforce diversity, and changes in organizational structures, the nature of careers has changed remarkably over the past three decades (Sullivan, 1999). One important consequence of today’s career environment is the increased importance of each employee’s performance and the increasing inability of organizations to plan long-term career development or to manage careers for employees (Stickland, 1996). As one consequence of this change, psychological contracts between employers and employees have also changed. Current psychological contracts are no longer based on the promise of job security and automatic advancement as provided by the employer in exchange for loyalty and good performance as provided by the employee. In its place, the support of the employee’s personal career development and learning in exchange for provisionally limited contributions to the organization’s success increasingly form today’s implicit agreement between parties in organizations (Rousseau, 2001). As a result of these changes in how careers develop in today’s world of work, employees face a bigger need for career self-management because enterprises are increasingly pursuing a human resource policy that shifts accountability for career management from the employer to the employee (Kossek, Roberts, Fisher, & Demarr, 1998). These changes have profound impact on how careers develop, resulting in more non-linear and less predictable career patterns. Accordingly, increased self-directedness, flexibility, and adaptability are required on the part of employees if they are to successfully survive with the changes in the realm of work (Sullivan, Carden, & Martin, 1998).

Faced with this new career context, the field is therefore in need for new theoretical and practical conceptualizations that are aligned with the current realities in organizations and the job market. Although they still have merit and are widely used, linear models of career development such as suggested by Super (1990) or models of stable individual differences that need to be matched with aligning work environments such as implied in Holland’s (1985) model seem unsuitable to fully reflect this new reality. As a result, the field of career studies, particularly, its management-oriented component, has proposed a vast array of career concepts over the recent years that aim at addressing the novel career reality. Prominent among them are the notions of employability (Forrier & Sels, 2003; Fugate, Kinicki, & Ashforth, 2004), career motivation (London, 1983; London & Noe, 1997), career self-management (King, 2004; Kossek, Roberts, Fisher, & Demar, 1998; Stickland, 1996), career competencies (Akkermans, Brenninkmeijer, Huibers, & Blonk, 2012; Kuijpers & Scheerens, 2006), or a protean (Hall, 1996) and boundaryless (Arthur, Khapova, & Wilderom, 2005) career orientation. From the domain of vocational psychology, the happenstance learning theory (Krumboltz, 2009) and the chaos theory of career (Bright & Pryor, 2005) have equally addressed the dynamic nature of careers. Common to all the modern approaches to career development is the notion that career development cannot be restricted to career decision-making which centres on finding a suitable career which corresponds to personal skills, values, and interests. Therefore, classical notions of career guidance which aim at helping clients finding a good match between their personal characteristics and work environments or professions are believed to be insufficient. Moreover, many of the current career concepts are limited by the fact that they solely propose different sets of attitudes, competencies, or behaviours that are judged important for successful career development in the new context. However, they generally fail to satisfactorily address the processes by which career development can be conceived.

We believe that the life-designing model has the potential to address these issues and shortcomings. It is based on the epistemology of social constructivism (Young & Collin, 2004) and acknowledges that professional development is highly contextualized and individualized. Similar to the general developmental-contextual theory of human development (Lerner, 2006) the life-designing paradigm proposes that career development must be understood as a dynamic interaction of person and environment. As a result, solely concentrating on personal attitudes or competencies as a basis for successful career development is insufficient. A truly comprehensive notion of career development must address which personal characteristics in combination with what kind of environmental conditions produce what kind of career outcomes. While it is beyond the scope of the present paper to develop such a theory, some of the implications for career counselling based on a life-designing approach must not be overlooked.

Here, some basic notions in the life-design paradigm with specific focus on the dynamic nature of modern career development and its implications for theoretical and practical perspectives on career counselling and career development interventions on the personal and organizational level have been elaborated. Based on the life-designing approach, we have shown that models which see careers as predictable, linear, and based upon deductive reasoning should be complemented by perspectives that take the dynamic interaction between person and context into consideration. Career counselling and career development approaches based on the life-designing paradigm should apply dynamic reasoning and interactive counselling approaches. Linking life-designing with career management at the individual and organizational level, we showed that career counselling should stimulate positive person-environment interactions, promote proactive career behaviours, and emphasis on developing and applying diverse resources for positive career development. We hold strongly that enhancing career theory and intervention practice by these perspectives inspired by the life-designing paradigm will adequately reflect the realities of modern career development and promises to considerably enhance the quality, effectiveness, and relevance of career counselling and intervention for our clients.

V.    THEORETICAL UNDERPINNINGS OF THE STUDY

5.1  Social Cognitive Theory of Albert Bandura (1986)

Several psychological theories have been projected over the years to explain human behaviour. The view of human nature embodied in such theories and the causal processes they postulate have considerable importance. The conceptions of human nature in which psychological theories are rooted are  more than a theoretical issue. As knowledge gained through inquiry is applied, the conceptions guiding the social practices have even vested implications. They affect how human potentialities are cultivated, which are underdeveloped, and whether efforts at change are directed mainly at psychosocial, biological or socio-structural factors. This addresses the personal determinants and mechanisms of human functioning from the perspective of social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). The recent years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in self-referent phenomena. Self-processes have come to pervade diverse domains of psychology because most external influences affect human functioning through intermediary self-processes rather than directly. The self-system thus lies at the very heart of causal processes. To cite but a few examples, personal factors are very much involved in regulating attention processes, schematic processing of experiences, memory representation and reconstruction, cognitively-based motivation, emotion activation, psychobiologic functioning and the efficacy with which cognitive and behavioural competencies are executed in the transactions of everyday life.

The implication of the social cognitive theory to this study is that, many counsellors lack social support systems in the school which affects their performance and effectiveness (Sutton & Fall, 1995). Furthermore, school counsellors may lack support, professional development and the empowerment to practical professional school counselling as it is taught in the training school. This is due to the fact that in school-based management, school counsellors’ roles are defined by the school administration, thereby redefining the professional identity of the school counsellor. School counsellors’ self-efficacy beliefs about their role may affect their performance in the delivery of comprehensive school guidance and counselling. Kuranz (2002) opines that school authorities often fail to understand the role of the school counsellor. When the school counsellors’ role is not appropriately defined, the counsellors naturally will question their role and doubt the self-efficacy and confidence required to perform their job effectively. To overcome this challenge, school counsellor’s self-efficacy should be enhanced. This is only possible if they get the necessary support from school authorities and teachers in the course of providing their services. Moreover, teachers should understand the role and the responsibilities of counsellors and administrators should not assign them unrelated duties as will bring in role drift for counsellors and jeopardize the effectiveness of the service. When this is done, the counsellor’s self-efficacy increases alongside his or her confidence level which results in effectiveness in rendering the service.

Concerning outcome expectations, conflicts arise every now and then when school administrators do not have a mastery of the role and responsibilities of the counsellor and as a result they and teachers do not know what to expect from the counsellor. These expectations will induce an undesirable perception and attitude. To accomplish the desired perception and behaviour that will promote effective service, school officials and counsellors should come to a consensus as to what to expect of the school counsellor. For career guidance and counselling services to be effective, teachers and counsellors must work hand in glove by cooperating, collaborating and understanding each other. This is possible when both parties gain self-control. Teachers and counsellors need to exchange ideas and agree on what constitutes their duties as their professions demand so that they will maintain working relationships.

Reinforcement demands that the provision of facilities necessary for guidance and counselling be made available by school authorities. Counsellors need information about the latest methods or therapies in dealing with students’ difficulties. The school administrator allocates on the timetable working sessions per week for group counselling. The counsellor should have the intrinsic drive to support students with challenges. These enhancement and support materials will lead to a positive perception change thereby ensuring better counselling services.

Considering emotional coping, teachers and counsellors should control their emotions especially those triggered by external stimuli like gender bias or longevity of service. Their decisions should be inspired by reason and not governed by emotions. Regarding observational learning, since they work in the same environment, they should get a hold of those observable actions and outcomes which are favourable and can contribute to the success of the guidance and counselling services.

5.2   Super’s Career Development Theory (1957)

The practice of matching people with certain kinds of work was derived from Frank Parson (1909) who tried to match individuals’ abilities and interests with vocational opportunity. Parson’s important contribution to the development of career theories was that interests and abilities do influence the choice of careers. Someone will, thus, choose a career that matches his or her interests, abilities and personality. Ginzberg (1951, in Crites, 1969) emphasized that occupational choice is not an event, but is a process that takes place and develops over a period of time. According to Crites (1969), Ginzberg assumed two main propositions on which he based his career development theory. One of the propositions was that the process of decision-making in career choice would be irreversible. Ginzberg (Crites, 1969) holds that, once a person has made a career decision, then he or she will be restricted to it. The person may find it difficult to change his/her career goals and the decision taken might restrict that person from making other decisions concerning his or her career development because the person might have already made efforts regarding the chosen career and committed self to it. The other proposition assumed by Ginzberg suggests that career choices will depend on compromises between what the person needs and what is available (Crites, 1969).

Ginzberg’s propositions contributed to Super’s “Career Development Theory”. Super’s theory did not arise at one time and stop there, but it developed itself over a long period of time. Different constructs were added and adjustments were made since 1953 until the 1990’s. Career development and self-concept were core concepts in Super’s theory in 1953 (Stead & Watson, 1999; Brown, Brooks & Associates, 1996). Career Development Theory was an elaboration of Ginzberg’s assumptions as indicated above, but also included many other theorists’ ideas, such as those of Thorndike, Hull, Bandura, Freud, Jung, Adler, Murray, Maslow, Allport and Rogers (Crites, 1969). From all these theorists’ work, Super developed a comprehensive theory that covered many aspects of life. Super’s theory sees career choice as a life-long process that ensues throughout the course of an individual’s life, from childhood to adulthood (Langley, 1999). Super emphasised insistently that career choice is based on matching the individuals’ abilities, talents and interests with the work, and is influenced by economic, social, environmental and physical factors. A change in these factors may have an impact on persons’ career development and choice. Super’s theory comprises different developmental stages during which career choices are made. During these developmental stages, the individual develops skills and acquires a level of maturity to adopt in his or her career choice.

In any event, the ability to visualize these stages lets people talk about issues that feel real to them because conversations fit where they actually are in the life journey. This is the value of Super’s stages and what makes them useful for career counselling. Super developed the theories and work of colleague Eli Ginzberg. Super felt that Ginzberg’s work had weaknesses, which he wanted to address. Super extended Ginzberg’s work on life and career development stages from three to five, and included different sub-stages.

Stage 1: Growth Age 0–14 Characteristics: Development of self-concept, attitudes, needs and general world of work

Stage 2: Exploration Age 15–24 Characteristics: “Trying out” through classes, work experience, hobbies. Tentative choice and skill development

Stage 3: Establishment Age 25–44 Characteristics: Entry-level skill building and stabilization through work experience

Stage 4: Maintenance Age 45-64 Characteristics: Continual adjustment process to improve position

Stage 5: Decline Age 65+ Characteristics: Reduced output, prepare for retirement One of Donald Super’s greatest contributions to career development has been his emphasis on the importance of the development of self-concept. According to Super, self-concept changes over time and develops as a result of experience. Super felt that Ginzberg’s work had weaknesses, which he wanted to address. Super extended Ginzberg’s work on life and career development stages from three to five, and included different sub-stages. Table one is a presentation of super’s developmental self-concept approach.

  1. RESEARCH DESIGN

The cross sectional survey research design was used to conduct this study. The survey allowed for the collection of data from a cross section of students which involved different cohorts such as age, sex, level (class) and school. With this, cross sections of the adolescent student population of Douala III Sub Division were considered for this study. This design provided quantitative description of some part of the student population and helped to describe events as they unfolded.

6.1  Population of the Study

The investigation was undertaken in two secondary schools in Douala. The area and schools for the sample were based on convenience. The schools under study were Royal Bilingual College Nogbong and Government Bilingual High School (GBHS) Genie Militaire Douala-Bassa. The target population comprised of students of all the secondary schools in Douala III Sub Division. The accessible population comprised 471 students of Royal Bilingual College Nogbong and GBHS Genie Militaire Douala-Bassa. Table two shows population distribution for the study.

Table 1: Population Distribution

School

Accessible Population

Sample

Royal Bilingual College Nogbong

96

50

GBHS Genie Militaire Douala-Bassa

375

87

TOTAL

471

137

Table one shows the two selected schools had an accessible population of 471 from which a sample of 137 was drawn.

6.2  Sample and Sampling Techniques

The purposive, convenience and simple random sampling techniques were used to select 137 students that comprised the sample. Two schools were conveniently selected because of accessibility. The purposive sampling technique was used to determine the classes to use in the two schools. Forms four and lower sixth were selected because of the maturity of the students and their cognitive ability to understand and appropriately respond to the issues in the questionnaire. In addition, forms five and upper sixth were busy preparing for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) examination and were not available for the research. So forms four and lower sixth were therefore most appropriate. The simple random technique was used to select the 137 respondents for the study in the two schools. In each class, pieces of paper were cut equal to the number of students present in class.  In each piece of paper was written ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. All these were put inside a bucket and shuffled inside the classroom in front of the students. The number of “yes” papers were equal to exact number required for the study. All those who picked ‘yes’ were distributed the questionnaire. However, they were told that anyone could opt out of the study if he/she so desired. However, no one opted out.

6.3  Research Instrument        

The research instrument used was the four-point Likert scale questionnaire for data collection. The questionnaire which was structured into five sections comprised 15 items.

  1. METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS

Data analysis was done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Measurement of associations or relationship between variables was carried out using the Chi-square test for independence given that data could be non-parametric. The hypotheses were tested at 5% level of significance.

7.1  Ethical Considerations

The research process took into account ethical issues such as; informed consent of participants, privacy of respondents, confidentiality, and anonymity of research participants. Permission was obtained from the heads of institutions concerned with the study for data collection from participating students. Privacy and confidentiality were respected to limit information that could intrude into their lives. Participants’ personal identity was not required so as to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. Measures were taken to ensure that participants were not in any way exposed to danger as a result of participating in the research.

  1. RESULTS

Objective One: Career choice assistance and young people’s employability.

Table 2: Respondentsꞌ Appreciation of Career Choice Assistance and Young People’s Employability

S/N

Item

SA

A

D

SD

1

My parents would have the greatest influence in  my career choice

41

56

20

20

2

Friends were/have the greatest influence in my career choice

50

44

20

23

3

Teachers have been the greatest influence in my career choice

45

55

15

22

4

Counsellors have been the greatest influence  in my career choice

47

61

14

15

5

Other family members have been the greatest  influence in my career choice

45

58

14

20

TOTAL

228

274

83

100

Mean average

45.6

54.8

16.6

20

Mean percentage (%)

33.3%

40%

12.1%

14.6%

Table two shows that, a large majority (73.3%) of respondents were strongly positive that career choice assistance or support from significant others such as parents, counsellors, teachers, peers and other family members influenced their employability. A smaller number (26.7%) of respondents held the view that significant others hadn’t any influence in their career choice. It could then be said that career choice assistance has an influence on young people’s employability given a collapsed mean percentage of 73 which was the majority. The young people therefore hold strongly that assistance from others is determinant in their choice of career and their employability.

Objective Two: Career exploration and employment of young people

Table 3: Respondentsꞌ Appreciation of Career Exploration and Young People’s Employability

S/N

Item

SA

A

D

SD

1

I do develop a realistic self-concept toward my career choice.

45

35

30

27

2

Career research, and experiences do enhance my skills and build upon my strengths

35

52

30

20

3

I am using online resources to help me decide on a career direction.

58

60

10

9

4

I am able to investigate on my career path, industries and opportunities for gaining experience in the field of my choice.

51

56

15

15

5

I am able to learn how to build my network of people to help me explore career and search for jobs.

41

49

24

23

TOTAL

230

252

109

94

Mean average

46

50.4

21.8

18.8

Mean percentage (%)

33.6%

36.8%

15.9%

13.7%

Table three shows that a significant majority (70.4%) of respondents affirmed that career exploration influenced their gaining employment. Just 29.6% held that career exploration did not impact their employability. This implied that most students found career exploration useful for their employability through the use of online resources, research, and experiences which enhanced their skills and built upon their strengths; investigation on their career path, industries and opportunities for gaining experiences, and their ability to learn how to build a network of people to help them explore career and search for jobs. As such career exploration has an influence on young people’s employability given a collapsed mean percentage of 70.4.

Objective Three: Career fairs and employment of young people

Table 4: Respondentsꞌ Appreciation of Career Fairs and Young People’s Employability

S/N

Item

SA

A

D

SD

1

My school too usually organises career seminars that helps us to choose the right career path

41

46

30

20

2

My school facilitates in building our career choice in future

35

51

28

23

3

Career fairs provide a convenient location for students to meet employers and perform first interviews

70

36

17

14

4

Career fairs are opportunities for companies to meet with students and talk to them about their expectations.

35

50

31

21

5

I am about to learn about companies and opportunities in my field of interest.

41

41

30

25

TOTAL

222

224

136

98

Mean average

44.4

44.8

27.2

20.6

Mean percentage (%)

32.4%

32.7%

19.9%

15.0%

Table four shows that majority (65%) of respondents affirmed that career fairs influenced their choice of career and employability. Apparently, this was because the school organised career seminars, which provided a convenient location for students to meet employers and perform first interviews, as well as an opportunity for companies to meet with students and talk to them about their expectations. A smaller proportion (35%) of respondents was negative as to the influence of career fairs on their choice of career and employability. They held that these activities did not help them in their quest for employment. Therefore, a majority of the respondents agreed that career fairs influence young people’s employability given a collapsed mean percentage 65%.

8.1 Verification of Hypotheses

Hypothesis I

There is no relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability.

Table 5: Statistical Test for HypothesisI

Chi-Square Tests

Value

Df

Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)

Pearson Chi-Square

261.641a

25

.002

Likelihood Ratio

256.314

25

.000

Linear-by-Linear Association

.294

1

.388

N of Valid Cases

137

 

We observe from table five that the computed results for Chi-square test had a calculated Chi-square value of 261.641 and the degree of freedom 25 at 95% significance.  From the results of the Chi-square (X2) test, X2= 0.002< 0.05 at 5% level of significance. Hence, Ha was retained while the Ho was rejected. That is, there is a significant relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability.

Since the calculated “p-value” (261.641) was greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), the Null Hypotheses (HO1) was therefore rejected which stated that: “There is no relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability” in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha1) which stated that: “There is a significant relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability”.  

  • Calculated “P-Value”> Table “P-Value”: ≈ HO rejected,
  • Ha accepted.

Hypothesis II

There is no relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability.

Table 6: Statistical Test for Hypothesis II

Chi-Square Tests

Value

Df

Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)

Pearson Chi-Square

338.709a

25

.004

Likelihood Ratio

312.303

25

.000

Linear-by-Linear Association

.144

1

.704

N of Valid Cases

137

We observe from table six that the computed results for Chi-square test had a calculated Chi-square value of 261.641 and the degree of freedom 25 at 95% significance.  From the results of the Chi-square (X2) test, X2= 0.004 < 0.05 at 5% level of significance. Hence, the Ha was retained while the Ho rejected. That is, there is a significant relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability.

Since the calculated “p-value” (338.709) was greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), the Null Hypotheses (HO2) was therefore rejected which stated that: “There is no relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability” in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha2) which stated that: “There is a significant relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability”.  

  • Calculated “P-Value”> Table “P-Value”: ≈ HO rejected,
  • Ha accepted.

Hypothesis III

There is no relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability.

Table 7: Statistical Test for Hypothesis III

Chi-Square Tests

Value

Df

Asymp. Sig. (2-sided)

Pearson Chi-Square

462.900a

25

.001

Likelihood Ratio

328.717

25

.005

Linear-by-Linear Association

117.641

1

.000

N of Valid Cases

137

It can be observed from table seven that the computed results for Chi-square test had a calculated Chi-square value of 261.641 and the degree of freedom 25 at 95% significance.  From the results of the Chi-square (X2) test, X2= 0.001 < 0.05 at 5% level of significance. Hence, Ha was accepted and Ho rejected. That is, there is a significant relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability.

Since the calculated “p-value” (462.900) was greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), the Null Hypotheses (HO3) was therefore rejected which stated that: “There is no relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability” in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha3) which stated that: “There is a significant relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability”.  

  • Calculated “P-Value”> Table “P-Value”: ≈ HO rejected,
  • Ha accepted.
  1. DISCUSSION 

9.1  Career Choice Assistance and Young People’s Employability

Objective one intended to find out the effects of career choice assistance on youth employability. A very large majority of respondents felt that career choice assistance influences young people’s employability. The verification of hypothesis one revealed that there is a significant relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability. Since the calculated “p-value” (261.641) was greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), therefore the Null Hypotheses (HO1) stating that: “There is no relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability” was rejected in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha1) that: “There is a significant relationship between career choice assistance and young people’s employability”. Students may be unsure about a career path or may be unable to choose between two career paths. There are tools for students in school to help them choose a career. These tools include career tests, career counselling, job fairs, and job shadowing. Counsellors help students put resumes together, practice interviewing techniques, and find job openings in related fields (Alfred-Davidson, 2009). This finding was in conformity with the findings of Rasul, Ismail, Ismail, Rajuddin, and Rauf (2010) that held that the assistance given to students on career information impacts their choice of careers and consequently their employability. In this it was established that there was a significant influence of career guidance on youth employability.

9.2  Career Exploration and Employment of Youths

The second research objective aimed at finding out the extent to which career exploration influenced employment among youths. A huge bulk of the respondents established that career exploration had a positive incidence on employment of youth. Such exploration could be in the form of career research, use of online resources, analysis of their career path and the build-up of a useful network of people that can be of help to them. On verification of hypothesis two, it was discovered that the Chi-square (X2) test, X2= 0.004 < 0.05 at 5% level of significance. Hence, H1 was accepted and H0 rejected. That is, there is a significant relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability. Since the calculated “p-value” (338.709) was greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), the Null Hypotheses (HO1) stating that: “There is no relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability” was rejected in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha1) which stated that: “There is a significant relationship between career exploration and young people’s employability”. The finding is in conformity with the work of Ombaba, Keraro1, Sindabi1, and Asienyo (2014) which established that there was a positive and statistically significant relationship between students and teacher counsellors` perceptions on the effectiveness of guidance services. The findings further indicate a relationship between the school guidance programme and students’ career choices in National Manpower Development and a relationship of the roles played by teacher counsellors, and head teachers in influencing students` career choice.

9.3  Career Fairs and Employment of Youths

Objective three sought to discover the extent to which career fairs influenced employment among youth. Career fairs are organised in school to facilitate the building of students’ future career choice, to provide a convenient venue where employers meet learners as well as conduct job interviews, to provide opportunities for enterprises to meet and chat with learners on their areas of interest.

Hypothesis three examined the relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability. Findings revealed that the computed results for Chi-square test value of 261.641 and the degree of freedom 25 at 95% significance.  From the results of the Chi-square (X2) test, X2= 0.001 < 0.05 shows that at 5% level of significance. Hence, H1 and reject H0. That is, there is a significant relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability. Since the calculated “p-value” (462.900) is greater than the table “p-value” (37.652), we therefore reject the Null Hypotheses (HO1) stating that: “There is no relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability” in favour of the Alternative Hypotheses (Ha1) stating that: “There is a significant relationship between career fairs and young people’s employability”. This finding aligned with that of Gbenga1 and Toyin (2013) whose study revealed that both groups presented with similar levels of career indecision at one time, and that the level of career indecision remained constant from time one to time two for the control group. The level of career indecision experienced by the adolescents who received career guidance and counselling diminished from time one to time two. This study found empirical evidence to support the notion that late adolescents who received career guidance counselling were more likely to experience a reduction in their level of career indecision than adolescents who did not receive any form of career and guidance counselling intervention.

X.     RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Schools should regularly organise open door days and invite people who have experiences in various careers to provide students with information on career choices and to also share their real life experiences so that students will be aware of what to expect from their own career choice.
  2. Counsellors and career experts should guide students in choosing a career, help them determine the most suitable careers based on their ability, aptitude, capability, and interest. Equally, teachers should work hand in hand with school counsellors by making referrals with antisocial behaviour to the counsellors for proper diagnosis and counselling.
  3. Education stakeholders should ensure that schools are well equipped with adequate career resources and qualified personnel in order to provide students with the necessary services in terms of career guidance that will help them in making informed career decisions. Policy makers should implement career guidance in the curriculum of secondary schools to help the students understand what they want and how to go able it as respect to their future career choices.
  4. Follow-up study is suggested to include among others an extensive data to promote employability of graduates.
  5. To make the career guidance programme responsive to the needs of the youth in educational, academic, social and economic domains.
  6. The various schools should work hard for their graduates to be gainfully employed.

  1. CONCLUSIONS

The findings of the study showed that career guidance is an absolute necessity to young learners to enable them to prepare themselves to be able to make appropriate well informed career choice. This makes career guidance to be a fundamental instrument for young people’s employability. It was discovered that career choice assistance or support from counsellors, parents, teachers, peers and other professionals exert a significant impact on the employability of young people. Another very touching revelation was that career exploration by learners considerably plays a crucial role in enabling the early life individuals to be employable. A very important disclosure of the study was the need for career fairs. This calls for the need for the collection and dissemination of information about an occupation to learners. This is done through career fairs, seminars, career talks, career conferences, visits to factories, establishing career corners, career clubs, career newsletters etc. through these expositions, learners are able to match the personality with the fitting job.

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