Historical View

“We guide our boys and girls to some extent through school, then drop them into this complex world to sink or swim as the case may be. Yet there is no part of life where the need for guidance is more emphatic than in the transition from school to work - the choice of a vocation, adequate preparation for it, and the attainment of efficiency and success.” (Frank Parsons)

Frank Parsons’ (1911) ideology of career guidance remains important today. He emphasized the transition from school to work, and how this transition is a sink-or-swim situation for many. This is the reality of many people’s lives still today and also applies to international degree students living in Finland.

Traditional Assumptions about Career Guidance:

Earlier, the belief was that there are a series of individual attributes or traits that draw people to certain occupations. These attributes or traits are pivotal to effective and desired decision-making, and occupations that match the vocational interests of individuals are easily accessible to these individuals. Occupations were seen as stable enough in their characteristics for assessment instruments to match the traits of individuals with occupational characteristics. Once individuals had secured a permanent position, it was seen that they have the capability to also remain in their desired occupation or career trajectory.

Revised Assumptions:

Nowadays, several factors influence the choice of occupation or career path, including individual attributes or traits, family perspectives, and rapidly evolving cultural influences such as poverty, addiction, conflict, displacement, and discrimination, along with internationalization and the rapid change in labor market opportunities. The importance of these factors varies within and across cultural contexts and they can also serve as a motivation for migration and relocation. Occupations of choice are not equally available for all. Today, many tasks and processes related to occupations are unstable or based on short-term contracts or project funding. New kinds of competences are needed, and the higher education sector has undergone structural changes as the Bologna Process (1999) has introduced a new degree system in Finnish universities. People must possess the essential skills and attitudes, such as the ability to cope with uncertainty, in order to successfully manage the rapid and unpredictable changes that characterize many occupations and career trajectories. Career development is an emerging professional activity.

These assumptions are revised from the presentation by William Borgen & Bryan Hiebert: IAEVG 2011 to apply to Finnish society and higher education.