The livelihood orientation to work, is as old as the history of humankind. Career emerged from livelihood just around the 18th century. Even today, a much larger proportion of human beings are engaged with livelihoods when compared to careerists. As seen in the pictures above, livelihood orientations to work bring the worker into direct contact with work tasks. The livelihood approach seems to foster a sense of belonging, of being enfolded by the community….of greater wellbeing.
Livelihood is a central concept in the Jiva system and Jiva believes that the careerist can learn much from livelihood orientations to work. This page describes how Jiva blends livelihood thinking with career development.
Livelihood versus Career
Over the recent past, the notions of career and livelihood have been increasingly juxtaposed. Common beliefs about these fundamental human activities are that livelihood is related to survival needs and largely practised by those who are in lower income brackets such as farmers, vendors, artisans and skilled workers, and mainly in rural areas. Career on the hand is seen as something more linked to urban contexts, to middle and higher social classes, with greater potential for better opportunities and higher incomes. Formal academic (school and college) education is viewed as concomitant to career, while traditional, non-formal forms of skills transmission are linked to livelihood. Career carries stronger connotations of prestige than livelihood. Indeed, the drive to abandon rural livelihoods and move toward a “better future” in the city is a rapidly growing one.
The livelihood planning approach makes the point that while the notion of career is becoming increasingly widespread, it must be
acknowledged that the nature of its manifestation, the meaning attributed to it and the manner in which individuals and groups engage with career can vary from one context to another. In one setting the focus of career guidance may be to help an individual discover in which occupational area (e.g., commercial art or law) he/she should specialise. In another, career guidance may be to help a community identify and gain modern skills to manage their traditional, rural occupations in a viable manner.
The Role of Career Guidance
What is the role of contemporary career guidance? Would career guidance be relevant to the farmer, the cobbler, the silk worm producer, the weaver, the traditional toy maker, the basket maker, the potter, the fisherman, the traditional healer and the shepherd? Or to their children? Such questions have a bearing on the contemporary practice of career guidance. Should career guidance be offered at all to the practitioners of traditional occupations, and more importantly to their children? Does career guidance become relevant only when economic development is such that non traditional, non livelihood oriented occupations begin to appear within that economy? Is career guidance a replacement for traditional mechanisms of occupational role allocation? Finally, does career guidance in these contexts imply replacing livelihood with career? It is here that the notion of livelihood planning and a livelihood planning approach to career guidance could be discussed further.
Click here for Jiva resources on livelihood thinking: