Online Career Guidance

The internet can improve how people are heard, get educated, earn a living and move up the social ladder (Law, 2010, page v). According to a report by UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) (Dec. 2010) on the role of technology in the career support market, 25% of respondents claimed that they are most likely to seek career support from the Internet. Taylor et al. (2005, cited in UKCES, 2010) showed that the majority (78%) of people that take a decision to seek career support independently rather than wait for the service to be suggested. Both statistics would suggest that 25% of the 78% who seek career guidance are surfing the Internet for guidance, advice and information. This consumer habit and trend cannot be ignored and must be acknowledged and addressed. In fact, Taylor et al. (2005, cited in UKCES, 2010) also discovered that two thirds of adults would be interested in accessing career support and online career guidance.

 

The Internet and Online Career Guidance

 

The field of career guidance and careers must embrace the Internet in order to satisfy a growing client trend or first instinct which is to surf for career options on the Internet using handheld devices, laptops and mobile phones. People increasingly turn to the Internet for what they need to know about working life. They look for clues – concerning both what is going on and what they can usefully do about it (Law, 2010, p2). Traditionally, ‘careers work has always drawn on a range of intellectual disciplines – until recently largely in psychology, sociology and economics. Indeed it is hard to argue that careers work is a distinct area of study; it is actually an applied field drawing on a range of intellectual roots. Recently those roots have massively expanded; and much of that expansion is into thinking concerning the use and usefulness of digital technology’ (Law, 2010, p1).

 

The fact is ‘there are people who don’t feel at-ease in conversation with teachers and advisers.   They seek settings where they feel at ease of a disadvantage. The Internet is good at simulating those kinds of encounter’ (Law, 2010, p8). Ironically the Internet allows people to feel at ease meeting an independent professional who is outside any personal knowing of that person’s past; they are seeking an impartial experience. The internet offers them a new basis for independent thought, congenial association and attractive action. The term ‘empowerment’ speaks of the extended leverage on life that all of this offers (Law, 2010, p8).

 

Richmond and Stephens (2010) surveyed graduates as to their use of social networking in managing careers, they found that graduates make use of blogs and forums for seeking useful information and contacts. They prefer the Internet to books (cited in Law, 2010, page ix). If, as suggested by Law, Richmond and Stephens, more and more people are using the Internet for information, online career guidance and career management, the content and information must be kept up to date, accurate and easy to find using Internet Search Engines.

 

Technology, Digital Literacy, Social Class and Online Career Guidance

 

Will the research back up the claims made by the UKCES Study that ‘digital literacy is not equally distributed throughout society? Those who are at greater risk of digital exclusion may include those from working-class backgrounds (Tien & Fu, 2008), the elderly (Helsper, 2009) and the socially excluded – for example, the rural poor (Warren, 2007)’. Digital literacy defined by the UKCES report as ‘a skill set that enables those who possess it to gain personal value from digital information sources’, implying a disadvantage if a person is digitally unskilled and uninformed. More and more organisations are uploading onto the Internet rather than going to print due to the cost implications. It is also apparent that ‘the use of technology can automate the initial exploration and diagnostic elements of the usual advice and guidance service: for example, it can facilitate psychometric, matching and reflective tools, and perform some initial diagnostic tests…..These technologies therefore both promote user-control and self-reliance, but can also automate some of the more routine aspects of the guidance process, so allowing professionals to focus on offering higher-level support to clients’ (UKCES, 2010).

 

However, if a person is digitally unskilled, they are clearly missing out on opportunities and career information required to advance or make informed career decisions. Will this study prove that certain groups within society are more inclined to address their career needs using the Internet and might there be a group on the wrong side of the digital divide? Those who would like to seek out career guidance but who do not have the digital literacy skills and confidence to do so. Taylor et al. (2005) found that those who were not interested in online career support lacked confidence in the use of technology and had experienced problems in accessing career support (p100-104).

 

‘Extract from Career Guidance Dissertation, for details of references, please contact me directly: diarmuid@careerguidance.ie’

 

Diarmuid Haughian

MA Career Guidance, QCG

Online Career Guidance

Online Career Guidance