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  • Writer's pictureΔεσπω Κυρμιτση

Adolescents' expectations of vocational guidance and career counseling

In recent times, rapid social and economic changes affect the preparation of young people to enter the labor market. Young people worry about their studies as working conditions change. Data on which our work culture was built are being overturned and we are heading towards a new reality where the individual will need to jump from one professional area to another. All this leads to uncertainty, dysfunctional professional beliefs and low levels of self-efficacy. In order for individuals to be able to plan their careers in the best possible way they need to acquire decision-making and career planning skills.

The labor market is undergoing constant restructuring, layoffs, increased unemployment and alternative forms of employment. The employee loses his self-esteem and social recognition and is possessed by negative emotions such as anger and shame (Nathan & Hill, 2006). At the same time, cultural diversity forms a new school environment with differentiated learning needs and possibilities (Briscoe & Hall, 2006).

A career is a personal activity guided by personal goals and values. In the past, the question was "Which profession should I pursue that matches my personal characteristics?" Now, the question is "How do I plan my career in the best possible way to meet the varied and unpredictable career directions?" (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Argyropoulou & Drosos, 2010). That is why the career counselor must know the local labor market, the rapid changes that affect it and the consequences they may have in the person's life, but also have the necessary knowledge to help the person face the challenges and opportunities.

In adolescence, the unique characteristics of the person's personality are determined, his /her strengths and weaknesses are discovered. He/She realizes his/her unique abilities and potentials and how far he/she is capable of going in the future. However, he/she receives strong social pressures regarding his/her studies and the direction he/she will choose from his/her social environment. He/She is pressured to choose a profession. If he/she will start working after school or if he/she will proceed to studies. The question that concerns the teenager is what are his/her needs and expectations in the field of professional development.

Career preparation includes a clear understanding of oneself, talents, abilities, interests, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of an occupation. Professional adaptability is also an important element, i.e. the continuous exploration of oneself and the environment with the aim of reconciling oneself with the identity of the individual and the professional environment.

Successful adaptation to transitions is influenced by the development of skills, knowledge and attitudes and understanding how to design careers in relation to social complexity. There is a need for the adolescent to have personal control over career matters, to be curious in exploring alternative career patterns, to experiment with new activities and plans of action, and not to focus on a single direction overlooking other possibilities that he has. To have confidence in him/herself and his/her abilities to achieve a professional goal.

In order for young people to face their future they need to make personal plans and gain learning and professional experiences. To strengthen their ability in order to use these experiences as transferable skills. The counselor here is required to discuss with them whether the career they are thinking of choosing is suitable for them as subjectively desirable and practically feasible. Through the right professional orientation, teenagers can practice developing problem-solving strategies, methodological planning and strengthening cooperative skills.

Career decision making is considered a multidimensional and complex process (Gaffner & Hazler, 2002). Young people are asked to make decisions about their future, which seems uncertain and fluid due to the economic crisis and unemployment, which causes them anxiety. At the same time, they suffer from a lack of professional information and dysfunctional career beliefs that affect their aspirations and actions. Counseling contributes to the acquisition of decision-making skills, which are considered as self-management skills (positive self-image, positive interaction), job exploration skills (goal setting, gathering professional information, understanding the relationship of work, society and economic life) and career planning skills (maintaining balance between work and family life, engagement in the career planning process) (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, 2004).

The bet that the career guidance counselor is called upon to achieve is to help the young people to face their needs and expectations in modern reality and to support them in claiming perspectives for the future, in creating a character of empowerment, education and prevention. Despo Kyrmitsi (BSc, MA) Career and Professional Orientation Consultant

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