Archive for category Socio-economic factors

How stable are work values?

Icarus by Steve Jurvetson

Think of your work values as the navigational guidance system for your career... oh!

How much do your work values change over time?

Are there times when your work values change more than others?

How much are your work values influenced by what is happening around you?

Do you adjust your values according to what is available to you?

Do some generations have more stable work values than others?

These are just some of the questions that a new meta-analysis by Jing Jin and James Rounds from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tries to answer.

But first… what are work values?

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The ‘High Five’ of career development

Virtual Five! by Melanie Allan

Up high! Down low! Too slow!

Yesterday I attended the NICEC workshop on the Blueprint for Career Development. This is a competency framework for career management skills that was originally developed in Canada and has been adopted by Australia and some European countries. I don’t have time to blog about the Blueprint properly at the moment so watch out for a future post on it. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at Tristram Hooley’s presentation from the workshop and poke around on the Australian Blueprint website.

For this post I wanted to refer to something that is mentioned, almost in passing, in the Blueprint material — the ‘High Five of Career Development’.

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Cultural or universal

dharma wheel by Michael Hartford (mhartford)

Universal concepts

In The East and West of Careers Guidance, my colleague Saiyada talked about the Jiva project promoting career development counselling in India.

A recent paper by G. Arulmani (2011) expands on some of the cultural concepts that underlie this approach to careers work. I have my reservations about the research presented in the paper which claims to demonstrate that grounding career education in a culturally relevant framework is more effective than applying more universalist approaches.

This may well be true, but it’s really hard to tell from the details give of the differences between the two approaches used in the research whether the greater effectiveness is down to the cultural relevance or just down to providing a more coherent conceptual framework for the career development activities.

Aside from these concerns about the research methods, I do find the concepts derived from Asian spiritual traditions very thought provoking, especially when comparing them to equivalent concepts from Western career development theory.

Apologies in advance for my over-simplification of these concepts.

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Positive Aspirations

I would like to thank Vinny Potter from Queen Mary, University of London for contributing this post — David
Spire by Gerry Balding

A spire... (I'll get my coat)

I work in two distinct careers settings. One is with high-achieving students at the University of London and the other is with clients who often have few qualifications (if any) at a small job club where I volunteer in the evenings.

At the job club we try hard to engage with NEETs (those Not in Education, Employment or Training). We have limited success. The biggest issue I have found with this group is not their low economic status nor lack of decent qualifications, but a major lack of aspiration.

There have been quite a few studies into the link between achievement and aspiration. One of the latest has come from researchers at Queen Mary University of London (Rothon et al., 2011) and it demonstrates a clear association between aspiration and achievement.

educational aspirations had a strong association with actual achievement, remaining associated even after controlling for a number of other variables, including prior achievement

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Social mobility needs more than paid internships

It's not just about providing the right footholds...

The UK Government recently released Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility.

The report quotes some depressing statistics about social mobility in the UK.

  • Only one in five young people from the poorest families achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with three quarters from the richest families.
  • 25% of children from poor backgrounds fail to meet the expected attainment level at the end of primary school, compared to 3% from affluent backgrounds.
  • Almost one in five children receive free school meals, yet this group accounts for fewer than one in a hundred Oxbridge students.
  • Only a quarter of boys from working-class backgrounds get middle-class (professional or managerial) jobs.
  • Just one in nine of those with parents from low income backgrounds reach the top income quartile, whereas almost half of those with parents in the top income quartile stay there.
  • Only 7% of the population attend independent schools, but the privately educated account for more than half of the top level of most professions, including 70% of high court judges, 54% of top journalists and 54% of chief executive officers of FTSE 100 companies.
  • The influence of parental income on the income of children in Britain is among the strongest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Parental income has over one and a half times the impact on male incomes in Britain compared with Canada, Germany and Sweden.

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Success: what is it and how do you achieve it?

Success

If only I'd realised that success could come so cheaply!

Are you successful in your career?

How do you know?

Traditionally, there are two ways of measuring career success:

  • objective success — externally measurable things such as salary level, number of promotions, etc.
  • subjective success — internal, psychological factors, such as level of career satisfaction, happiness, etc.

These two types of success can sometimes be related, i.e. the more objective success you achieve, the more subjective success you experience. However, they can also be unrelated. So, other people might perceive you as being successful, but you don’t feel it, or you might be really happy in your work even though other people might think you haven’t had much of a career.

Is there a way of predicting what factors lead to objective or subjective career success? Well, lots of researchers have tried to answer that question. Vast numbers of researchers have tried to examine the link between a range of attributes and the likelihood of a good career outcome. That’s far too much reading for me! I’d like someone else to do it for me…

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Questionable decisions

No entry

This is how it feels

Last week Lord Davis launched Women on Boards, which examines the gender imbalance at the top level in UK businesses. In 2010, women made up only 12.5% of the boards of FTSE 100 companies. The Equality and Human Rights Commission estimate that, at the current rate of change, it will take 70 years to achieve gender equality in the boardroom.

One half of the problem is to do with the ‘supply side’. Greater proportions of women with the potential to reach the boardroom step off the career ladder lower down to concentrate of family commitments. In addition, women seem to suffer more than men from lack of confidence in their own abilities and sense of worth. For example, they are less likely to initiate  salary negotiations — and when they do, they may get penalised more than men for doing so.

That last point indicates the other half of the problem. Why are the capable women who are still in the game not getting access to a proportionate number of powerful jobs?

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Employability: concepts and components

Will work for food

Flexibility - a key component of employability?

I am preparing material for an employability module, and I’ve been getting myself into it by exploring different definitions and concepts of employability.

What is employability?

Coming at that question from a careers adviser’s perspective, I tend, by default, to think about employability in terms of the awareness and attributes of the individual job seeker. So into my head come the career management skills of the classic DOTS model (although, why it’s called DOTS and not SODT escapes me).

  • Self awareness
  • Option awareness
  • Decision learning
  • Transition learning

However, that’s not the only way of looking at employability. I thought it might be useful to share some of the perspectives on this subject that I have found most interesting. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review on the subject of employability, just an idiosyncratic collection of things that have caught my attention.

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A qualified success?

A few concepts that I blogged about have been floating round in my head for a while. A recent discussion with a client made them come together.

She was talking about how her educational background in Africa had given her a particular mindset about career success. She explained that in her home country, passing a relevant professional examination pretty much guaranteed an appropriate job. When she came to the UK, it was a great shock to her that just having good qualifications was not enough. She had been surprised at the emphasis placed on demonstrating acceptable personal qualities and the importance of networking. It had taken her quite a while to overcome this mindset, and even now her initial reaction when faced with a career challenge was to think about what training she could obtain.

She was quite surprised when I told her that it wasn’t just people from outside the UK that suffered from this blinkered attitude to employability and career success.

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Cultural beliefs in careers guidance

As promised, I am writing a follow-up to The East and West of Careers Guidance.  Since posting the article I have been thinking about one of our alumni (who I will call Priti) who gave feedback about her experience of Careers Guidance in the UK:

The adviser was very nice, she asked me lots of questions about my career decision making and made me think about what had led me to my career choice. I did at the end of the interview feel very sad. Although she made me think, I knew I couldn’t change my social situation or career decision. I guess although we spoke the same language we ultimately didn’t understand one another.

According to the Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM), people’s beliefs (or generalisations) about themselves and the world of work influence their approach to learning new skills, developing new interests, setting career goals, making career decisions, and taking action toward career goals. John D Krumboltz, who developed SLTCDM and was also behind Planned Happenstance, went on to say that beliefs can become so ingrained that they may not be identified by their holders as beliefs – they are taken to be unquestioned, self-evident truths.

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