Talking about career: the language used by and with young people to discuss life, learning and work
AffiliationUniversity of Derby, iCeGS
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AbstractThis report describes the findings of research conducted by the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby on behalf of the national HE STEM programme. The research set out to understand how young people conceptualise career vocabulary in order to help those tasked with supporting their career decision making to do so in a way which was both engaging and effective. The research found that there is considerable confusion about a range of career vocabulary both amongst young people themselves and between young people and the adults who seek to influence and inform their careers. This report has also argued that confusion about vocabulary cannot simply be solved by teaching young people the “correct” meaning of different words. The report explores the relationship between the words that we use to talk about career and the way that we think about career. In particular it examines how the different vocabulary and conceptions of career held by young people and adults complicate the career learning that takes place both in school and outside of school. The report notes that current policy suggests that schools are going to have to take increasing levels of control over careers education and a key element of this is supporting teachers and other adults working with young people to talk more effectively about careers and related issues. The report argues that it is important that career educators attend to the career literacy levels of learners and pay close attention to the career vocabularies that they utilise. In particular an argument is made that those young people who are considering STEM careers have additional vocabulary and concepts to learn that relate to the disciplines and sectors within which STEM careers are pursued. The report explores how people talk about career and identifies a range of factors that are likely to influence this. It demonstrates that there is considerable diversity in the ways in which people define and use a word like “career”. It notes that people often use metaphors to describe the concept of career and identifies a wide range of different metaphors that people use. As with the choice of particular vocabulary, the choice of metaphor suggests different ideas about career which educators are likely to want to explore and, at times, challenge. The research was conducted during autumn 2011 and involved interviews with 82 young people, and nine career helpers from schools and organisations largely based in the Midlands. This is a small scale study and the results are therefore presented to open up debate and thinking in this area and do not constitute an exhaustive exploration of the subject. The main findings of the research are presented under five headings each of which represents a major theme of the research.
CitationMoore, N. and Hooley, T. (2012). Talking About Career: The Language Used by and With Young People to Discuss Life, Learning and Work. Derby: iCeGS, University of Derby.
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