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Updated on May 29, 2010

The Career Decision and Labour Market Dilemma

Many young people today wonder where the future will lead them. One of the most important decisions every young person in both Junior and Senior High School will make in the next few years about the future concerns the type of career, or chosen occupation they want. With thousands of jobs to choose from, it is never too early to begin thinking about ones future career.

Many of these young people at the ages between 14 and 25 years can expect to work at least 35 years with several job changes along the way. Changes in the world will affect jobs available. The best advice therefore to the youth would be to get a good education and some training that will allow them to branch out into other career areas during their work life. This requires some form of guidance in decision-making and choice of courses and academic programmes.

The process of deciding future career options can be very challenging and requires careful considerations. Establishing high quality career guidance and counselling programmes is therefore imperative in any well-functioning educational system. This is more so because, students, regardless of background, demonstrate similarities in choosing their career paths. These similarities include the need for assistance in fostering personalized career decision making through engagement in age appropriate, self-explorative activities related to career decidedness, or in connecting course selection to their career and educational plans. These common career choice issues require that career guidance counsellors assist students, preferably starting in the Junior High School (JHS), to be aware of what career guidance and counselling is and what it is not.

Utilizing career guidance and counselling system promotes improved course selection for students leading to benefits for learners. Good career guidance can also help decrease the gap between education and unemployment on the one hand, and productive livelihoods on the other.

Today, people should expect to make multiple career changes throughout their lives and continually upgrade their skills. The establishment of quality career guidance programmes is particularly important, if today’s learners are to become successfully adaptable, and continue to adapt, to future labour market challenges.

Career decision making for Junior and Senior High School Students and Tertiary Students should involve an exposure to and an explanation of careers, access to career resources, preparation programmes, and guidance in career choice and goal setting. From a traditional standpoint however, issues of access to information and opportunity have made it difficult for students to be fully involved in career decision-making process.

Many students have career ambitions for which they have no natural talent or aptitudes. Some are also pursuing courses and academic programmes that have no bearing on their career dreams and prospects. Parents are busy forcing children to pursue career dreams they the parents dreamt about but could not achieve, without regard for the children’s personal strengths or weaknesses.

Our polytechnics, colleges, and universities are ‘churning’ out thousands upon thousands of graduates each year who do not fit into the labour market, simply due to the mismatch between programmes of study and job requirements in the job market. Hence, many young graduates are caught up in this career decision and labour market dilemma

It is therefore important for school guidance counsellors to consider and implement informed strategies that are active, directive, and systematic in nature to help students at all levels to successfully plan and make career choices that reflect both current and future trends in the labour market.


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