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Katie Henderson and Lauren Dalton: Career counseling for today's labor force

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Career counseling for today's labor force.
Vocational guidance
Career development
Henderson, Katie
Dalton, Lauren
Pub Date:
Name: Business Perspectives Publisher: University of Memphis Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Business, regional Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 University of Memphis ISSN: 0896-3703
Date: Fall-Winter, 2010 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 3
Product Code: 8331000 Job Counseling Centers; 9918560 Career Planning NAICS Code: 62431 Vocational Rehabilitation Services SIC Code: 8331 Job training and related services

Accession Number:
Full Text:
In the current fragile economy, jobs have been scarce for many with little relief in sight. Anxiety and depression have been symptoms of people who are pressured to find sources of income in order to survive in this suffering financial market. Seeking help may seem impossible for the unemployed; however, the one job searching tool many people do not consider may be the very thing that pulls them out of this jobless hole: career counseling.

According to Vernon g. Zunker, author of Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach, career counseling includes

When all these values are considered within this therapeutic realm, the impact is intensely positive on society as a whole and especially the workforce.

Career counseling not only reaches people on a cognitive level where they can explore and process their emotions, but it also was created to address the main problem: to help people find employment. This type of counseling has been aiding people since the early 1900s and has continued to be successful in the twenty-first century.

Zunker goes on to explain that career counseling was "created to meet the needs of a society during the shift from rural to urban living in the industrial age and has expanded its focus during other transitional periods of changes in how and where we work and live" (2006). Thus, career counseling helps people find appropriate jobs that will benefit them. By discovering a successful job, the potential employee in return will prosper the employer as a result of the positive attitude displayed by the employee. Even though jobs are scarce at this time, career counseling still allows the counselor and/or therapist to research different types of employment for the client, coming as close as means allow to locating a job that best suits the client in this current, delicate job market.

It is no surprise that the economy has impacted the job market. But, just how has it affected it? The unemployment rate for Tennessee as of May 2010 was 10.4 percent, compared to the national rate of 9.7 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010). What are currently unemployed or potentially future unemployed individuals doing to secure employment? One possible service being sought is career counseling offered through most career centers and community agencies, where these individuals focus on career exploration.

Career exploration is a lifelong process. It can be voluntary or involuntary; however, there are some life events that require us to reconsider our careers, much like today's economic situation. Career exploration might involve some uncertainty and/ or negative emotions (Zikic and Hall 2009). According to Holland's theory of occupational psychology, occupational interests are direct expressions of personality, and individuals seek environments that allow them to express their interests (1997).

Because of economic situations, for some individuals, career exploration through career counseling is implemented for finding any job rather than new career paths or options. For various reasons, many people do not have the luxury of choosing different career paths (Wilson 1996). For example, lack of specific experience, skills, or educational requirements can hinder one's capability in switching occupations. However, attending career counseling can aid their situations.

Career counseling is not required when attending Career Centers in Tennessee, but it is highly recommended for individuals seeking services. Often individuals see career counseling as a "problem-solving tool." "Some people are in such shock [from losing their job] that they are looking for resolution anywhere," says Rebecca Thomas, a career coach with the Nashville Career Advancement Center (NCAC). Career counseling serves as a means to clarify difficult decisions during transitional times and helps individuals adapt. Fred Frazier, another career coach with the NCAC, says people are often looking for options to determine if they need a new job/career or to educate/train themselves for current or future opportunities because their current economic status will not allow them to make a change due to the unstable job market.

Some people see career counseling and exploration as a mode of survival as opposed to self-discovery (Zikic and Hall 2009). These people need a job--any job--and fast; career counseling explores that strength. One career coach with NCAC, Rebecca Thomas, said that many of the customers coming into her career center are willing to take drastic pay cuts if necessary to become re-employed. Additionally, many of her clients have fears of being too old to get trained or hired.

The greatest strength of career counseling lies in its origin and evolution: a reaction to the social and economic changes that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Tang 2003). This field has grown and adapted over time to encompass a multitude of services, which are available through various outlets, including career development centers on college campuses, guidance departments in schools, business and organizational settings, and community agencies (Tang, 2003).

Most of these services are available at no cost to the individuals seeking them. Career counseling, in addition to other services, has made education and training available to those who need them most (Tang 2003). Guin Tyus of NCAC states the main goal behind their career center services is "preparing the customer to respond to the current labor market demands and to market themselves to potential employers, and preparing a skilled workforce to meet the current economic needs of the local area" E.L. Herr (2001) states

Career counseling is not a required service in Tennessee Careers Centers, but it is clearly beneficial to the individual seeking it, especially in an economic crisis.

Tennessee ranks in the top percentile in retraining workers. The state is ranked fourth nationally overall and third nationally for adults employed after training programs offered through Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs. It also ranks in the top eleven percent nationally in employment rate and retention of jobs.

The changing economy not only affects workers, but also career counselors. Change in occupational structure and labor demands creates difficulties in job classifications and clusters. lobs are changing requirements and desired traits and skills, which poses a problem for counselors trying to assist individuals in their job seeking (Tang 2003). Jobs are moving from agriculture and industry to information-savvy positions. Kathy Parker, career coach with NCAC states she has noticed a change in employers delaying hiring decisions since the economy changed course.

The globalization of the U.S. economy has created some larger issues. Companies are constantly looking to reduce costs by downsizing or relocating outside the U.S. for more cost-efficient labor. The threat of disappearing jobs due to relocation and downsizing makes it extremely difficult for workers to develop and maintain work stability (Tang 2003). Recently in La Vergne, Tennessee, 457 jobs were eliminated at a compact disc and DVD maker distribution center due to the loss of a major contract--about half of the company's current workforce (Williams 2010). The unfortunate downsizing of the distribution center is just one example of the all too common cutbacks with which this county is becoming familiar.

Unfortunately, the government is making it even harder for those already unemployed to receive additional aid. Congress rejected a bill that would have provided more money for the long-term unemployed. Part of this $140 billion bill package was unemployment benefits. Killing the bill is just one more setback for the 9.7 percent of unemployed Americans. However, there remain multiple facilities and programs lending services to aid the unemployed during these difficult economic times; career counseling continues to prove itself as a successful outlet.

Through the information provided, career counseling may not be the ultimate "fix" to the overall unemployment issue, but it certainly aids in guiding the unemployed population in the right direction in today's workforce. From helping to construct and write resumes to individual or group counseling, career counseling offers several resources that are necessary to take advantage of during a job or career drought. Patrons of these services usually benefit in one way or another, and the projected prognosis for career counseling continuing to flourish is excellent.

Bureau of Labor and Statistics. "Southeast-Laborforce Statistics." (accessed July 1, 2010).

Frazier, Fred. Personal Communication, July 7, 2010.

Herr, E.L. "Career Development and Its Practice: A Historical Perspective" Career Development Quarterly 49.3 (2001): 196-211.

Holland, J.L. Making Vocational Choices: A Theory of Careers (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Parker, Kathy. Personal Communication. 30 June 2010.

"Senate Blocks Aid to America's Jobless." Bristol Herald Courier, June 17, 2010.

Thomas, Rebecca. Personal Communication, July 17, 2010.

"TN Ranks in Top Percentile of Successful Re-Employment Retrained Workers." Oneida-Independent Herald, June 17: 2010.

Tyus, Guin. Personal Communication, June 30, 2010.

Williams, III, (;.C. "Cinram to Lay Off 457 in La Vergne" Tennessean, June 12, 2010.

Wilson, W.J. When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York, NY: Random House, 1996.

Zikic, J., and D.T. Hall. "Toward a More Complex View of Career Exploration" Career Development Quarterly 58.2 (2009): 181-191.

by Katie Henderson and Lauren Dalton, Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research, The University of Memphis

Katherine Henderson

Ms. Henderson is a Research Assistant at the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research (SBBER). She received her Bachelor of Professional Studies with a concentration in Organizational Leadership at the University of Memphis in 2009. She received a Master of Science in Leadership and Policy Studies, with a concentration in Student Personnel at the University of Memphis in December 2010. She has experience in research, teaching, administration, and student services. Ms. Henderson is currently responsible for the coordination, research, and management of various projects for the SBBER, including programs associated with Tennessee Career Centers.

Lauren Dalton

Ms. Dalton is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research (SBBER). She has been attending the University of Memphis since 2005, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology in December 2008. Ms. Dalton will earn her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in the University of Memphis' Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research Education program in December 2011. From there, she plans to pursue her PhD in Counseling Psychology. Ms. Dalton aspires to run her own counseling practice in hopes of providing ethical mental health services.

... all counseling activities associated with career choice
   over a life span. Career counseling also includes counsel
   ing activities associated with work maladjustment, stress
   reduction, mental health concerns, and developmental
   programs that enhance work skills, interpersonal relationships,
   adaptability, flexibility, and other developmental
   programs that lead to self-agency. (2006)

... vocational or career guidance and counseling and other
   career development practices have been seen as making
   access to education and training opportunities; educational
   reform; economic efficiency; creating human capital;
   matching persons and occupational opportunities; rehabilitating
   those on the margins of society by providing
   support and direction to their career development; and
   helping by providing support and direction to their career
   development; and helping a person find dignity, purpose
   in, and adjustment to work. (202)

Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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