Changing the Approach to Career Counselling in a Disadvantaged Context: A Case Study (Careers Forum) (Case Study)

During previous research we discovered that the facilitation of career counselling, in particular, was almost totally absent in many schools in South Africa. Research on the identification of appropriate assessment instruments for career counselling in diverse South Africa needs to be broadened considerably. The project described here addresses the need to cross the divide between a status quo of no assessment in South African schools and the exclusive use of tests by psychologists in this context, and provides researchers with much-needed information to empower teachers in schools to offer viable career counselling to learners. A career counselling strategy is being developed for all learners in South Africa, including even the traditionally most disadvantaged, and the focus on career counselling internationally is being implemented locally. There is a dire need to facilitate career counselling for learners in South Africa, especially in schools in previously disadvantaged regions, where this facility is virtually non-existent. There is no need to remind readers of the crying need of so many learners, even those who have passed Year 2, who have no vital lifelong skills and almost no business acumen. Despite the sustained efforts of lawmakers and those who implement policy, the South African occupational landscape is still characterised by a number of gross imbalances and unemployment is rife, estimated at up to 46% (J.D. Jansen, personal communication, 2005). The following statistics (S. Shan, personal communication, 2003) indicate the extent to which South African career patterns have been skewed by factors such as our apartheid past and the inadequate career counselling received by blacks. (Note: The terms black’, coloured’ and Indian’, which reflect an artificial way of distinguishing people racially and ethnically, are used in this context in order to highlight inequities in the South African population that should be rectified.) South Africa’s population is 45.9 million, of whom 37.6 million persons are black, 4.3 million white, 4 million coloured and 1.1 million Indian. Statistics show that 337 out of a total of 21,422 accountants, 347 out of a total of 14,687 engineers, 3 out of a total of 4,024 dentists and 12 out of a total of 497 actuaries are black. Yet even in 2007 career counselling in South Africa is available primarily to people who are able to afford this expensive service, thus further disadvantaging many already impoverished non-white populations. This highlights the need to: (a) improve the quality of career counselling in schools where this facility is available; (b) to initiate this service in the myriad of schools where this type of service is not offered currently; (c) empower disadvantaged youths to become qualified and motivated professionals; (d) contribute to the positive transformation of South African society; and (e) enrich and diversify the culture of counselling at training institutions throughout South Africa.

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