Greener Journal of Education and Training Studies

 ISSN: 2354-225X

 

Submission Date: 29/01/014                     Accepted: 05/08/014                  Published: 08/08/014

 

 

Research Article

 

Views of Secondary School Students towards the Effectiveness of Career Days in assisting them to choose a Career

 

Cuthbert Majoni*1, Taurai Chinyanganya2

 

1,2Zimbabwe Open University, Mashonaland Central Region P. Bag 984, Bindura, Zimbabwe.

 

2Email: chinyanganyatau @yahoo. co .uk, Tel: 263+71+ 7161/7484/7107, Cell: 0772912938,

 

*Corresponding Author’s Email: cmajoni2002 @gmail .com 263+71+ 7161/7484/7107, Cell: 091 2 678 966

 

ABSTRACT

 

This study sought to find out the views students have on the effectiveness of career days in assisting them to choose a career. Data were collected, through the use of a questionnaire, from a sample of eighty ‘O’ and ‘A’ level students from Chipadze High School in Bindura. All the respondents who participated in this research attended the careers day session organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.  A questionnaire was used to collect data.  The data were quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed.  The data revealed that most students benefited from attending the careers day sessions.  Organizations that made their displays and presentations provided useful information that enabled the high school students to identify potential careers of their choice. The career day sessions were therefore quite useful. The study however, recommends that more and diverse players from industry, commerce and law need to be invited to attend careers days to provide high school students with information and thus assisting them to choose a future career from an informed perspective. There is need to introduce career guidance and counselling programs in secondary schools and having trained counsellors who assist students in career choices.

 

Keywords: Effectiveness, Career.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

According to Nicholas (1995) in Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa (2006), youths graduate from schools with a high level of career indecision. There appears to be no serious career focus based on adequate career knowledge. As they traverse personal career paths, there is need for those of us who are involved in the education of the young to induct them into the world of work. Every young adult needs guidance and support in this very complex and challenging time of selecting a career and deciding what role they want to play in their future as adults. Career choice is a factor of personality, interest, self-concept, cultural and environmental factors (Kelke 2000). Students in high school lack information about occupational opportunities which enables them make a career choice (Edwards and Migunde 2011). Career days are some of such events that help induct our children into choosing a career. According to Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa, (2006:4)

 

The theoretical basis for understanding career development reveals that career choice is not a stand-alone decision occurring at a particular point in the life of an individual. Rather a career choice is a process that starts early and spans over a period of Time.

 

Generally, the trend in Zimbabwe has been that when students make their choice of careers they do so on the basis of their academic inclinations.  Muroyama (2006) observed that the Japanese students make career choices based on their academic standards of test deviation values and scholastic ability, rather than on their individual interests. This has resulted in a lack of awareness regarding the importance of encouraging self-understanding and a firm grasp of occupational matters. It has also led to the growing numbers of young people who find themselves unable to determine their own future, despite entering adolescence. They continue to work at non-regular jobs after graduating. This scenario is quite reminiscent of the case in Zimbabwe where the situation is compounded by the current economic challenges facing the country. There is therefore, a need to plan for career guidance for the young people.

 

Definitions of Career

 

According to Robbins and Coulter (1999) the term career has several meanings. In popular usage, it can mean advancement, that is, she is in a career track, or a profession or has chosen a career in accounting or a lifelong sequence of jobs. Some scholars define a career as the sequence of positions held by a person during his lifetime. Other scholars define a career as the sum of all life experiences including education, work, and leisure activities, social and civic responsibilities. Isaacson and Brown (1993) give a summative definition which describes a career as the individual’s lifelong work pattern which includes educational experiences designed to prepare for work as well as participation in work itself. This is the definition used in this research.

 

Planning a Career Day

 

There are occasions when career day programmes have been criticized because the professions/occupations displayed did not necessarily take into consideration student interests. This shortcoming may be avoided by including, in the planning stages, a survey of student’s interests. This should be generally among all students, but more so, as regards those students  progressing from high school to institutions of higher learning or joining industry and commerce. Such a survey should allow students to list, before hand, the occupations they would like included in a career day programme. Checklists can be drawn from such students’ preferences and these may guide presenters. This means that speakers should have appropriate information and materials to assist the students.

Since a career day session is a learning activity, students need to be prepared properly for their part. If students are provided with ample time to read brochures and materials about the occupations of interest before the career day program, they will be in a better position to ask appropriate and relevant questions and make better use of the limited time and emerge from the sessions more informed and knowledgeable about what they want to do. According to Isaacson and Brown (1993) this gives them confidence and empowers the students. Soon after the career sessions, an evaluation should be made by all the representatives involved in the organization to determine the efficacy of the programme and whether it should be the same in subsequent years or not. If a conclusion is reached that it was not effective there is need to brainstorm on what should be modified to improve future effectiveness.  Ideally, evaluations should include reactions from students, faculty members and representatives from different professions. This research highlights the reactions from students only.

 

Career Counseling

 

Students who go to counsellors for career counselling usually have little or no work experience at all. They have limited understanding of their interests, values and aptitudes and a very limited understanding of the skills needed to acquire and successfully perform a job. Many high schools require counselors to discuss current educational objectives each time counsellors meet with students to engage in course selection or long term educational planning. Career counsellors need to be prepared to work with a wide variety of situations including those that are cognizant of physical disabilities, mental and artistic genius, lack of motivation and educational achievement.

 

Factors Affecting Career Choice

 

Information is a major factor affecting student behaviors relevant to career choices. An environment with limited exposure to the world of work, with no knowledge about job search strategies affects children’s career decision-making. The scholars also observe that the school where one has been educated is an important influence on career choice. One of the most important school variables is availability of guidance and counselling services.

Several factors affect career choices. These include internal and external factors. According to Hewitt (2010) external factors include political and economic factors, previous work experience and influence of idols in one’s life as well as the peers. According to Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa (2006) many complex variables impact on career choices these include parental and family influences, interpersonal relationships, cultural beliefs, values, employment markets and the political atmosphere.  The peers can influence choice of a profession because of the information shared. Parental support and encouragement are critical factors, influencing career choice (Taylor et al (2004). Gender can influence choice of certain careers. In Africa certain jobs are considered to be a preserve of men or women hence students as they choose a career are influenced by that societal or cultural orientation Personal interests learning experiences. School subjects remain a powerful factor influencing and channeling career choices, (Mutekwe et al., 2011).The subjects students study in high school will impact on the career path. For example those studying history focus on becoming lawyers while those studying biology focus on becoming doctors or nurses.

The environment plays a part in career choices of high school students. This is mainly because students who live  in  a  mining  area  are  likely  to  choose  careers  related  to  mining .  Parents  play  a  key  role  in  influencing career choices of students. The parents’ educational background and their profession can influence students’ views to choose or not to choose certain career. Individual personalities can influence career choices as well as available opportunities in relation to employment and salary levels (Olomide and Olawaye 2013, Splaver 2000).

In Zimbabwe, career days are organized annually by the National Employment Services Division of the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare. The main purpose of the career days is to guide high school students on career choices as well as providing them with information on employment, training and education opportunities available in the immediate environment. Career day sessions provide students with opportunities to directly get into contact with professionals in various occupations in which they could have some interest. According to Isaacson and Brown (1993) a career day is meant to provide students with pertinent and accurate information about specific fields of work. If properly organized, career day sessions can help them broaden their understanding of professions at their disposal. They provide students with an opportunity to come into contact with at least one career counsellor in the diverse occupations they may be interested in and obtain useful information on various professions.

Career day sessions are not limited to industry and commerce; representatives from universities, trade and vocational schools, teachers’ and technical colleges and government institutions also take advantage of them to showcase what programs are available to post secondary school graduates. This effectively broadens career paths for the young people. Though the exercise has been ongoing in the past five years, there has not been much written on careers days and their effectiveness has never really been assessed to ascertain whether indeed such sessions are effective in assisting high school students in choosing careers. This is why this research was conducted; to make a modest contribution to this area that we think is very important.

Students face problems in deciding about their careers. The Zimbabwean schools do not formally, and in any structured form, cater for career choice which is an important step in children’s development. The planned way of intervention involves the career days that are organized by the National Employment Services Division of the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare. These occur sporadically once a year in the political provinces. The problem this paper sought to find out is whether these career days are at all effective in helping students choose careers that suit their strengths and inclinations.   

 

 

METHODOLOGY

 

The design used in this study was the descriptive survey. The data used were gathered from Chipadze High School, which has the largest number of ‘O’ level and ‘A’ level students among the high schools in Bindura urban, Mashonaland Central. The survey method was seen to be appropriate since it “gathers data from a relatively large number of cases at a particular time. It is not concerned with characteristics of individuals as individuals. Best and Kahn, 1993:107 believes that a survey is concerned with the generalized statistics that result when data are abstracted from a number of individual cases. A survey is a kind of ‘snap-shot’ approach which depends crucially on choosing a representative, non-biased sample.” This approach allowed the researchers to gather snap-shot data at a career day session that was conducted at Chipadze Secondary School. The idea was to get individual input which was then abstracted and generalized to show generally, what students get and expect from career days.

 

Sample

 

Purposive random sampling was used to select students who participated in this research. A total of 155 students attended the session but, 80 participated in the research. Of these, 25 (31%) were Advanced Level and 55 (69 %) Ordinary Level students sampled from among total populations of 57 and 98 respectively. These were preferred because they were readily available and willing to provide information on the career day session that they had attended.

 

Data Collection

 

The questionnaire was used to collect data. The questionnaire was preferred because, it enabled students to give their views without fear or discomfort since it ensured anonymity. The questionnaire was also preferred because its inclusion of both closed and open-ended questions gave students the leeway to present objective and subjective information that we thought was vital for the study.

 

Research Questions

 

The research addressed the following research questions:

 

1.  What motivated high school students to attend career day sessions?

2.  What career options did they prefer after attending the session and is there a relationship 

     between their choices and the subjects they favored?

3.  What were their views on the effectiveness of the career day organized by the Ministry of 

     Labor and Social Welfare?

4.  What are the students’ suggestions on how the career days can be improved?

 

 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

 

Reason Why Student Attend Career Days

 

As a starting point, the researchers tried to ascertain some of the reasons why students attended the career day. The following reasons were given as drivers for attending the session.

 

     To get guidance on choice of profession or future career.

     To seek information about careers and the requisite entry requirements.

     To get information on the different jobs available in the market.

     Some wanted information to help them plan for future careers or to get hints on what to do after finishing their studies.

     Others wanted to find out the relationship between the subjects they were studying at school and the world of work. There was need for information on university education and the entry requirements for various degree programmes.

     For some students, the career day was a source of motivation and they wanted to know the academic and professional qualifications relevant in the future. One said, “I wanted information about applying for jobs as well as getting some explanation on how to enter different fields of work.”

 

What is clear from the foregoing is that students are keen to get information on future employment opportunities. They see this information as helping them make decisions about their future. According to Lee (2010), high school students face many decisions about their future, whether they want to attend college, what their life goals are or which career field they would like to be in. When choosing a career after school, it can seem impossible because of the vast array of career choices available.” In our country however, the situation is made worse by the limited horizons so far as job availability is concerned.

 

Career Preferences after Attending the Career Day

 

The next thing of interest was to find out what the picture was in terms of career preferences.

 

 

 

Most of the students preferred to take up careers in Law and Nursing. The most preferred professional area was law (34%) followed by nursing (16%), medicine and accountancy (16%). Students generally felt that these careers would secure them jobs once they are through with their studies. Other professional areas mentioned, though with less frequency, included careers in education, game ranching, farming, architecture, policing and science. It was interesting to note, from the majority of the respondents’ responses, that they opted for professions different from those of their parents or guardians. The results of this study contrast observation made by Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa (2006) who observed that in South Africa and internationally parental influences impact on career choices.

 

 

 

The most popular subjects in high school included the traditional English, Mathematics, History, Science, Geography, Shona, Divinity and Accounting. The choices of subject generally were closely related to the most popular professions. This choice of subjects seem to be predetermined and it was the researchers’ view that it has a limiting effect to the students’ career choices since it channels them to the traditional white and blue- collar jobs which, unfortunately, are dwindling in the job market in Zimbabwe.

 

 

 

The respondents generally found the career days educative, inspiring and useful. A large number of students, 63% had their objectives met by the session while 38% indicated that their objectives had not been met. The main reason they gave was that their area of interest had not been represented and there were no professionals coming in to make presentations on their career options. Some respondents indicated that they had not benefited from attending the careers day session. The reasons were:

 

 ‘I did not get information on the profession that suits me and my qualifications.’

‘The organization I expected did not show up.’

‘The presenters tended to emphasize too much on science and commercial subjects.’

‘I expected such organizations as NGO’s and players involved in law.’

 

There seemed to be a need for more players from industry and commerce to participate in such events. Also it was apparent that more time needs to be allocated for the sessions. There seems to be room as well to improve on provision of more incisive information.

 

 

 

The Ministry of Health was singled out as the organization that provided the most useful information that helped them to decide on careers. ZESA and the ZRP were also identified as providers of useful information.  The Zimbabwe Open University and Bindura University of Science Education were identified as tertiary institutions that provided useful information on degrees on offer and their entry requirements, job prospects after training and possibilities for further studies.

Asked why the students ranked some organizations higher than others, students highlighted a number of reasons as contributing towards their responses.  Organizations that were ranked higher brought experienced personnel to assist the students. Ministry of Health was ranked highest because, it had experts who provided adequate and reliable information. Students found the presentations very useful and inspiring in that they were closely linked to their favorite subjects. One can conclude that students would be motivated to remain focused on schoolwork to attain higher grades during the forthcoming final examinations, thus, increasing their chances of joining their favored professions. Students were also assisted to identify subjects that met the minimum qualifications for the different professions. One student actually said, ‘I can now match my goals with my school performance’.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Students who attended career day's sessions were very clear about the benefits they would obtain from attending these sessions.  They wanted guidance on choosing a profession and information on different jobs available in the market.  Some wanted to link their favourite subjects and the careers' of interest, while others focused on university entry requirements for degree programmes.  Their responses concur with Lee's (2010) observation that high school students face problems in deciding about their careers.   A few students did not find information on the professions they wanted and expected other organizations to show up such as non-governmental organizations and law related professionals.

Most of the students found the career day useful, educative and inspiring. What came through from the students’ responses was that a majority of them opted for professions different from those of their parents or guardians. This finding contradicts the findings of Young and Friesen (1992) in Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa (2006) who observed that parents have very strong influence on their children’s career choices. The Sunday Times (2005) also complemented this idea of parental influence on children’s career choices by noting that many South African black parents, who, because of financial difficulties, could not obtain much education, try to inspire their children to obtain good education so that the children may get better jobs and live a life of better quality. Students who did not find the career day as useful indicated that there was a mismatch between their chosen careers’ minimum requirements and their qualifications. Some expected certain professions to be represented, especially those relating to the law and development (e.g. NGOs).

There was a close relationship between the favorite subject and the mostly preferred profession.   The most favorite subjects were History, English, Mathematics  and  divinity ,  and  the  most  favored  professions were Law, Nursing and Medicine. Although the legal profession was not represented at the career day session it was the most sought after profession while medicine, nursing and accountancy also appeared to be quite popular as they were selected as possible professions. Students indicated that the Ministry of Health provided them with the most useful information together with Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The respondents generally found career day educative, inspiring and useful.   The presentations catered for the interests of the majority of students who attended the career day to get guidance on future career or profession. Some students wanted information relating to entry requirements into different kinds of jobs or professions, while others wanted information about entry requirements into universities and colleges. Some students wanted to find out the relationship between the subjects they were studying and preferred jobs yet others wanted information on how to apply for certain jobs. They suggested that the career day sessions could be improved if more players are invited from industry and commerce and if more time is allocated to these programs. Students were also calling for detailed information from the presenters.

A career day program is designed to provide students with pertinent and accurate information about specific fields of work. If properly organized (as was this current one under discussion) career day sessions may do a lot in assisting students to broaden their understanding of the field of work they are interested in. This is especially so in our situation where the school system does not seem to have any regular structured programs to guide our children through career decisions. Many scholars agree that career awareness and choice processes should start at an early age.  According to the Rugters University pre-college career planning site (2010), “many high school students think that career planning is something that begins at college. On the contrary, career planning is a process that begins before high school, and most naturally should continue into college years. Career planning, in fact, is an ongoing process…” Unfortunately our situation seems to prioritize career guidance at the terminal points of O and A levels students. This does not fully prepare our children for the world of work. 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The study found out that:

 

     Students found the career day useful, educative and inspiring.

     Students were able to choose a career from the environment and from the presentations.

     The most favored subjects at Chipadze High school were History, English Mathematics and these were related to the most preferred careers of Law, Nursing and Medicine as well as Accounting.

     Students were clear about the objectives of the career day and their personal objectives.

     The Ministry of Health, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police provided the most useful information during career day sessions.

.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

The study made the following recommendations:

 

     More players from industry and commerce should be invited for career days including the legal profession.

     Presenters need to vary their presentations modes to capture the student’s attention.

     Schools need to introduce formal career guidance and counselling programmes and, where possible, to secure the services of trained counsellors.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Well chosen careers make for a satisfied and consequently, a safe and stable society. While career day sessions cater for this need, it is our considered opinion that they have to start early in a child’s educational career. Often people find themselves in the wrong job or career because they would not have had career guidance. To this effect Lloyd (1992) says, “Too often people chug along aimlessly while they are asleep at the wheel. Years later many are jolted awake only to find themselves at a dead end, spinning their wheels in a job they hate. Others realize, too late, that their batteries went dead long ago and they can’t jump start in a new direction.” 

What is clear from the foregoing is that it is of vital importance that people, more so the youth, consider seriously what their options are in career or work choice. Career days do play an important function of sensitizing students about their choices and career paths post secondary school. We are however, saying that something needs to be done on a regular basis; perhaps our curriculum planning has to cater more for this need so that we culture the right frame in our children so that they will be a well adjusted and satisfied work force that makes for a stable society.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Best, JW and Kahn, JV (1993) Research in Education. Seventh edition.  Boston, Allyn and Bacon

Bojuwoye, O and Mbanjwa S (2006) Factors Impacting on Career Choices of Technikon Students From Previously Disadvantaged High Schools.

Ferron, OM (1994) Guidance and Counseling for Tertiary Students. Durban: Butterworths.

Lee, S (2010) ‘How to Choose a Career After High School’. http://www.ehow.com/how 6453065 choose-career-after-high-school.html. Accessed June 13, 2010.

Muroyama, H (2006) ‘Occupational Awareness and Career Guidance for Youths’. http://www.jil.go.jp/english/documents/JLR10_intro.pdf accessed 18 July, 2009

Mutekwe E Modiba M, Maphosa C (2011). Factors Affecting Female Students Career choices and Aspirations. A Zimbabwe Example; Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 29: 2 pp133-141

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Lloyd, J (1992). The Career Decisions Planner. When to Move, When to Stay, and When to Go Out  on Your Own. New York , John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Robbins, SP and Coulter, M (1999) Management. London, Prentice Hall International, Inc.

Robson, C (1995) Real World Research. A Resource for Social Scientist and Practitioner-Researchers. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers.

Rutgers University, ‘Career Planning- High School Students.’ http://careerservices.rugters.edu/PCCPmain.shtml. Accessed June 13, 2010.

Splavers (2000) ‘Your Personality Your Career’, New York, NY. Julia Messer

Olomide SO and Olawaiye SO (2013) The Factors Determining the Choice of Career Among Secondary School Students. The International Journal of Engineering and Science (IJES) Volume 2:6 pg33-44

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Cite this Article: Majoni C, Chinyanganya TL, 2014. Views of Secondary School Students towards the Effectiveness of Career Days in assisting them to choose a Career. Greener Journal of Education and Training Studies, 2 (3): 071-078.