Interventions and Programmes
From the Flint to the Microchip!
Work has been our constant companion ever since the hands of our ancient forefathers curled around a piece of stone and converted it into a tool – an instrument of production. The tendency to work is a natural and inherent human characteristic. The human journey from the flint to the microchip has stretched across thousands of years. Initially work was linked to meeting survival needs. Two significant events in European history, the Industrial Revolution and the Protestant Reformation transformed the nature of work and gave it a new dimension. It was the first industrial revolution that that gave birth to the idea of a personal career. Work now presented prospects for change and advancement. People began to approach work as a means for achieving personal growth and development, as also for improving their class or position in society. Today, entering and pursuing a career implies making choices, obtaining qualifications and skills and constantly making changes and adaptations to cope with competition.
What is “Career”?
Career is a form of work that finds its being within a specific cultural context…a context characterised by patterns of beliefs and ways of thinking. What family and society have to say about a career path significantly influences career decision making.
Typically, career implies:
- a personal engagement with the world of work
- making a decision and selecting a particular career path
- matching personal suitability (interests, talents) with career tasks
- obtaining appropriate training and qualification
- specialization for ongoing, lifelong development.
Career is a form of work that requires the wilful direction of energy, formal qualification and specialised effort, directed toward meeting societal needs through a specific area of work, for which one gains the means for a livelihood, an identity, social status and opportunities for the realisation of personal potentials.
What is “Career Guidance”?
During earlier times work roles were allocated through social and cultural norms. Occupations ran in families and making a choice was perhaps not as necessary or possible as it today. Probably there was little or no need for career counselling and guidance. However, as new occupations emerged, the issue of matching people to jobs surfaced as a question that needed an urgent answer. Accordingly, systems and methods emerged to match people to jobs on the basis of their traits, abilities, and talents. And so emerged the profession of career guidance and counselling. This systematization of methods to support and facilitate career choice and decision making marks a notable landmark in the history of work.
Career guidance is a service rendered by competent and trained professionals.
It aims, at helping the individual optimise personal potentials through the effective realisation of his or her social and economic role as a “worker”.
Career guidance supports the individual for the lifelong development of wellbeing as well as the prosperity of the immediate community and society.
To be effective, career guidance must be informed by a culturally-resonant interpretation of the social, behavioural and pedagogical sciences.
“Career” as a Continuum
Not all cultures and economies came directly under the influences of the Industrial Revolution and the Protestant Reformation. In other societies, human engagement with work progressed as it had for centuries earlier. Nonetheless, global forces have had and continue to have an impact on work behavior in almost all contexts.
In virtually all societies, work has changed from being simply linked to survival needs to something far more complex, requiring increasing amounts of specialization and training.
Accordingly, the notion of a personal career has made its appearance in many more parts of the world.
Therefore, manifestation of career can be seen in two broad contexts: Western cultures where the idea of career was born and non Western contexts where it is, in many respects, culturally alien. In the former, the manifestation of career would be spontaneous and culturally congruent. In the latter, its manifestation could be the result of exigency induced by global transformations.
It seems that the delineation of career from work lies along a continuum. At one end is “career” in its fully developed form, as it has been described above. At the other end is a complete absence of this notion of career. And along this continuum are various culturally mediated manifestations of the idea of career.
The Family and the Individual
The Western notion of career is becoming more and more universal. However, what career means, how it is manifested, and how the individual engages with career, can vary from one context to another. It must be kept in mind that the prevailing post industrial approach to career guidance may not be relevant to all economies. Indeed work in many economies is simultaneously pre-industrial, industrial and post industrial in nature.
Pursing a personal career brings into play the dynamic tension that exists between the individual and the culture he/she is a part of. Career by its very nature places individual and his/her prosperity at center stage. This works naturally well in individualistic cultures. However in other, more collectivistic societies, the family and society play a powerful role in the choices that the individual makes. More often than not, the individual is obliged to follow the community’s ways of thinking. It is important to note that both the family and the individual are important if appropriate career choices are to be made.
The Jiva approach to career guidance aims at bringing the family and the individual together. Jiva acknowledges that the individual is part of a wider cultural system, while at the same time creating the space to celebrate the individual’s uniqueness.