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Career Education Models

Trends and Issues Alert 44

by Bettina Lankard Brown

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This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0013. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. ERIC/ACVE publications may be freely reproduced.


As the world of work has evolved, so has the way individuals are functioning in the workplace, requiring new forms of workforce preparation. Career education—which focuses on strategies for enhancing students' career awareness, exploration, and planning—has evolved as well. Contemporary career issues (e.g., life-work balance, involuntary career transitions, mentoring) have led to a different focus in guidance and counseling practices. This Alert reviews models of career education and the way those models address the trends and issues involved in careers for the workplace of the future.

The traditional model of career education stresses a series of developmental stages, basic and academic learning, employability skill development, school and workplace linkages, as well as the need for lifelong learning and continuous skill development (Wickwire 2001). This basic model of career education was designed for a workplace characterized by a series of upward moves within a single organization that resulted in increasing income, status, power, and security (Kelly et al. 2002). More current models of career education are designed to prepare individuals for a very different workplace—one that is characterized by interorganizational mobility, flexible work arrangements, teamwork, technology, and international relationships. The newer models of career education include the "new careering," which advocates a theory of life as career and focuses on logical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of living (Miller-Tiedman 1999); the "integrated theory and practice" model, which stresses the integration of school-based, employer-based, and residential-based models that are developed around lifelong learning needs (Moore 2002); and the "Intelligent Career" model, which stresses the importance of "knowing-how," "knowing-why," and "knowing who" when addressing ways to enhance career preparation (Parker 2002; Wnuk and Amundson 2003).

These new models use the term "boundaryless" to distinguish the traditional career model from the new. The concept of boundaryless careers maintains that career development can take place through lateral and horizontal as well as vertical movement (Kelly et al. 2002). Within the realm of the basic career education model and the newer models of career education are strategies that are uniquely suited to the structural and cultural factors of a given population.


Chope, R. C. "Dancing through the Emotional Aspects of the Career Search." In Focus on the Future: Achieving Balance in Career & Life Integration. International Career Development Conference 2000, edited by G. R. Walz and R. Knowdell. Greensboro: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services, University of North Carolina, 2000. (ED 456 396)

Examines the importance of emotions when conducting a job search and engaging in employment. Highlights how inappropriate emotional reactions can adversely affect an individual's effectiveness and offers remedies for addressing emotional barriers that can impede employment.

Clements, M.; Luke, S.; Yates, D.; and Watts, T. Personal Learning Planning. A Framework for Lifelong Career Development. NICEC Briefing. Cambridge, England: National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling, 1999. (ED 436 670)

The Personal Learning Planning (PLP) model focuses on the needs and ongoing development of the individual, links career guidance to the learning process, and links learning to work. Individuals need to be encouraged to engage in a regular process of reviewing, recording, and planning in relation to their learning and work throughout their lives with the progress file as the reference point. Foundations for the process should be laid in schools and individuals encouraged to manage the process themselves with access to ongoing support.

Groff, W. H. Career Development E-Paradigms for Digital Dividends. 2001. (ED 463 432)

Discusses the importance of using computer technology for career development purposes and to help clients in their career-related decision making. Suggests that the conceptual frameworks of school-based career development models be upgraded to reflect new uses and application of technology.

Herring, R. D. "Multicultural Career Development: Central Perspectives 1." ACAe News 2, no. 2 (January 28, 1999).

Describes the shared characteristics of effective models of career education and describes the changes in values that have accompanied demographic shifts in society. Contends that the greatest inadequacy of career development theory is that it fails to take into account the unique needs of ethnic minorities, special needs students, and women.

Isler, J. "Web Design as a 'Boundaryless' Career. An Exploration of Shifting Career Structures in the IT Sector." Paper presented at the Institute for Labor and Employment's Graduate Student Research Conference, Santa Barbara, California, February 21-22, 2003.

Proposes that many theories of the high-tech career focus on the benefits of "boundarylessness" or the lack of dependence upon specific organizations. Promotes the idea of multiple careers and highlights the potential for a simultaneous pursuit of distinct and disparate career opportunities.

Kelly, A. et al. "A Cross Cultural Perspective on Career Structures: An Analysis of Organizations in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Ireland." Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Comparative Management, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, May 2002.

The traditional understanding of career is being challenged as a result of corporate downsizing, delayering, and other factors that contribute to instability, uncertainty, and insecurity for traditional career structures. Traditional progression up the corporate ladder has been replaced with lateral cross-functional moves, job switches, downward moves, and temporary moves of alternative career movement. The "boundaryless" career has evolved to reflect practices such as planned job rotation, dual career ladders, and multiple career paths as well as movement across functions and from technical to specialist roles or positions.

Knox, D. L. and Butzel, S. S. "Mastering Life Work Transitions: Using the Internet to Find Your Dream Job." In Focus on the Future: Achieving Balance in Career & Life Integration. International Career Development Conference 2000, edited by G. R. Walz and R. Knowdell. Greensboro: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services, University of North Carolina, 2000. (ED 456 401)

Describes a workshop that involves a holistic model for career and lifework planning and a training resource for increasing competency using the Internet for career related job search activity. "Life Work Putting Your Spirit Online" and its companion website offer an integrated approach that balances spiritual awareness and technology, while addressing the practical issues of retention and loyalty. "Finding Your True North" is the core four-part model for making positive centered life-enhancing career choices. The four parts consist of analyzing and discovering what skills, knowledge, and abilities we possess; identifying where our best work can be done (working conditions); selecting criteria for describing who are our best colleagues, customers, etc.; and defining purpose and rewards that describe why we do what we do.

Miller-Tiedman, A. Learning, Practicing, and Living the New Careering. Levittown, PA: Accelerated Development, Taylor & Francis Group, 1999. (ED 431 166)

Describes the "new careering," which advocates a theory of life, not job, as career and focuses on logical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of living. Compares the "new careering" to the more conventional career counseling theories and provides a rationale for placing conventional wisdom within the realm of personal reality.

Moore, E. A. "Implementing Career Education Programs during Contemporary Times." Agricultural Education Magazine 74, no. 6 (May-June 2002): 8-9.

Promotes a contemporary career education model that involves the integration of school-based, home-based, employer-based, and residential-based models. Suggests that educators develop local programs around lifelong education needs using community resources, and promotes a visioning process that is contemporary in scope and nature and that is innovative and focused on meeting customer needs.

Parker, P. "Working with the Intelligent Career Model." Journal of Employment Counseling 39, no. 2 (June 2002): 83-96.

The "Intelligent Career" is a model that provides a framework to integrate career data into a coherent picture. The Intelligent Career Card Sort®, specifically developed to elicit and work with subjective career data, is a way for counselors to accommodate personal and dynamic needs of their clients beyond a job focus. It assesses the tensions between the subjective and the objective aspects of career.

Patton, W., and McMahon, M. Career Development and Systems Theory: A New Relationship. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1999.

Uses General Systems Theory to unify approaches to career development. Presents a review of existing theoretical literature on career development; explores the traditional philosophical underpinnings of career theory and practices, including philosophical directions driving change; and addresses the integration of theory and practice through the concept of lifelong learning systems.

Robinson, N. K.; Meyer, D.; Prince, J. P.; McLean, C.; and Low, R. "Mining the Internet for Career Information: A Model Approach for College Students." Journal of Career Assessment 8, no. 1 (Winter 2000): 37-54.

Compares advantages of three models linking career assessment to career information: print, computer-assisted career guidance, and the Internet. Describes Career Exploration Links, a website that organizes career information and guides a diverse college student population in its use.

Stevens, P. Why Career Planning Can't Be Hurried. Sydney, Australia: Centre for Worklife Counselling, 1999. (ED 427 181)

Unstable labor markets have led individuals to develop self-limiting beliefs and behaviors and resist taking responsibility for their career futures. Stevens' model of career development emphasizes the integration of clients' work-related and personal strengths and postulates six stages of career development that must occur over time: self-assessment, interpreting data, opportunity awareness, decision learning, transition training, and transition accomplished.

Sullivan, S. E., and Emerson, R. "Recommendations for Successfully Navigating the Boundaryless Career: From Theory to Practice." Paper presented at the Midwest Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, March 30-April 1, 2000.

U.S. employment has moved from the traditional career, which was characterized by professional advancement within one or two firms, to employment in organizations that have downsized and become more flexible in response to environmental factors like rapid technological advancements and increased global competition. As a result of these changes, boundaryless careers, which extend beyond the limits of a single employment setting, have become the norm rather than the exception. This has resulted in changes from organizational loyalty to professional loyalty, from a focus on extrinsic to intrinsic rewards, and from firm reliance to self-reliance.

Wickwire, P. N. "A Perspective on Career Education in the U.S.A. AACE Distinguished Member Series on Career Education." Paper presented at the World Congress Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, Paris, France, September 20, 2001. (ED 465 863)

Describes the history and mission of career education efforts that have evolved since the 1970 and discusses the characteristics of career education's basic model, which is designed to advance and enhance individuals' productivity and satisfaction throughout the lifespan by forging connections among career, education, and work.

Williams, C. P. "Helping Women Shape a Career Path and a Life that Works." In Focus on the Future: Achieving Balance in Career & Life Integration, International Career Development Conference 2000, edited by G. R. Walz and R. Knowdell. Greensboro: ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services, University of North Carolina, 2000. (ED 456 405)

Discusses a model for helping women to develop key attitudes and behaviors that are necessary to succeed in the new economy. Emphasizes the need for women to develop personal resilience, find opportunities to demonstrate their skills, nurture their personal growth and development, and move toward healthy, long-term career and life success.

Wnuk, S. M., and Amundson, N. E. "Using the Intelligent Careers Card Sort® with University Students." Career Development Quarterly 51, no. 3 (March 2003): 274-284.

Describes the use of the Intelligent Career Card Sortr, a career exploration exercise that is based on the Intelligent Career framework and details the three ways of knowing identified in the Intelligent Career: knowing-why, knowing-how, and knowing-whom. Discusses this model in the context of the subjective career and the changing economy.


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