Helping People Choose Jobs: A History of the Guidance Profession

  • Mark L. Savickas

Role transitions prompt individuals to reflect on where they have been in order to consider where they wish to go. Educational and vocational guidance experts aid these individuals to clarify what is at stake and which decisions must be made. In a parallel process, cultural transitions prompt vocational guidance experts to reflect on where they have been in order to consider where they will take their profession. With the rapid economic changes brought by information technology and the globalisation of the economy, the profession of vocational guidance must reconsider the current relevance of its model, methods, and materials. This challenge requires that the profession again address a major cultural transition in a way that best assists individuals adapt to the personal transitions that they face. Thus, the profession of guidance must examine how well its 20th century theories and techniques meet the needs of 21st century clients. The present chapter contributes to this reflection by considering the history of the guidance profession, especially the origins and development of its four main methods for helping people choose jobs.

My thesis is that each time the social organisation of work changes, so does society’s methods for helping individuals make vocational choices. Thus, the chapter explains how, during four economic eras, four distinct helping methods evolved in the following sequence: mentoring, guiding, counselling, and constructing. The dominant helping method of a prior era never completely disappears; instead, it fades in popularity as the new model gains adherents. So for example, when guiding replaced mentoring as the dominant model, mentoring still remained a viable strategy for helping. Today, all four helping methods are currently in use, with preference for a model being determined by the developmental status of the economy in which it is applied.


Career Development Career Theory Vocational Guidance Guidance Profession Occupational Information 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark L. Savickas
    • 1
  1. 1.Northeastern Ohio Universities College of MedicineUSA

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