Reid and West (2010) suggest a new careers guidance model is needed that is interactive, has a focus on holistic meaning, and considers context, past, present and future. Perhaps constructivist approaches to careers guidance can compliment or add modern value to a fast changing social and economic society and diverse population. An issue with the ‘order’ theories is that they are simplistic, narrow, have a western influence, ‘it is debatable whether these theories can be adapted to diverse population without further consideration and explication of the cultural influence on people’s career development (Arthur, 2006 p59), perhaps constructivist approaches may be a solution. There are a number of constructivist approaches that can be used by careers guidance professionals. Approaches based on the core theories of careers guidance, however, these methods factor a changed context, technology, globalisation, a multicultural English society, etc.


Careers – Constructive Approach


Youth unemployment (18-24s) in Britain has been on the increase since 2002, around 3.4 million 18-24s are in work, 1.7 million are inactive (mostly in education, but not looking for work), and “just” 0.7 million are unemployed (The Guardian, Feb. 2011). Perhaps a constructive approach to career guidance can better assist the 700,000 young people unemployed. Society and government bodies tend to label a mass of people against a category and apply certain pre-conceptions against that ‘group’ however careers guidance practitioners cannot afford to label one theory or method of careers guidance against a single group, a guidance practitioner needs to be armed with a diverse range of modern social and cultural understanding, as ‘the difficulties that such young people bring to career guidance are diverse and demand a range of responses from the guidance practitioner’ (Reid, 2008, p463). Can constructivist approaches to careers guidance effect positive change and compliment the fundamentals to career theory?



McMahon and Patton (2006, cited in Reid, 2008, p468) also advocate the need to move from 20th century models for career guidance practice, to more constructivist approaches that are congruent with the way people live and the way people learn in the 21st century. Not only have people’s learning style and how we live changed, economics, job security and the cost of training and education has no doubt placed greater importance on career guidance. Financial considerations, either short term or long term are now to the forefront of consideration for parent, young adults and the disengaged. The yearly cost of studying for a academic degree has risen 300% in the past two decades (English Independent, 10.11.2011), the introduction of University fees in England for undergraduate students in 2012 and the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowances all of these financial issues are now making careers guidance more and more important. Applying modern theories to a modern multicultural society, diverse clients, and a globalised labour market could be crucial for England’s future, society and clients have changed, theories must modernise in order to counter change.


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Diarmuid Haughian

MA Career Guidance, QCG