A Guidance & Counseling Student (LVT)

Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling

Faculty of Education,

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

 18th June, 2016 


Career or vocational Guidance is a very crucial aspect of the help giving service (Guidance and Counseling). This is because it is concerned with assisting people to gain awareness, acquire knowledge and be led to enjoy placement in the world of work. Knowledge of Vocational Guidance is needed by everybody particularly because of the role of work in a person’s life. For instance, it is work one does that determines a person’s social status, income, and lifestyle, choice of friends, with mental and physical well-being. Put in a clear term, vocational guidance is therefore the process of helping a person match his personal attributes and his background with suitable jobs and employment opportunities. Most adults of over 40 years of age attest to the fact that they had little or no opportunity while in school to assess their personal, self-characteristics or to plan ways by which their values and goals could be achieved in life. This unwarranted development should not only be discouraged but it should be continually prevented through a sound vocational guidance programmes properly entrenched in the school daily activities. Knowledge of the vocational guidance is very necessary because, Nigeria is presently facing:

(a) Increase in unemployment of school learners.

(b) Shortage of manpower in different sectors of the economy.

(c) Un utilization of potentials in the country.

(d) Vocational maladjustment among youths.

(e) Unending influence of parents on choice of career.

All these issues are problems, which bedevil the vocational life of Nigerians but which activities of Counsellors and teachers alike can help to prevent in the schools. In particular, proper planning and designing of activities and services will help facilitate the career development needs of the students.

It is basic that anybody found engaged in a long lasting job called career would have explanation to give on how he came about joining such a job. Some people display happiness and contentment while others regret to find themselves in the particular career either because their goal in the career cannot be accomplished or for the fact that the demands they have to meet are incongruent with their expectations and resources. Most people who are in teaching career often show regret and disappointment simply for economic reasons whereas members in the law, medical and engineering profession seems to be happier. It is however a common knowledge to find lawyers changing to the teaching or pasturing careers simply because they feel they are not comfortable with the conditions or demands of their career in law. All these point to the fact that there is a need to plan, collect and be accessible to relevant information that are needed before a decision is taken on which career to pursue in life.

What is a Career Guidance?

A career or vocational guidance was defined by American National guidance Association in 1937 as “the process of assisting the individual to choose occupation, prepare for it, and enter it upon progress on it”. This definition was letter reviewed by Super (1951b) because it was viewed that the definition places less emphasis on the psychological nature of the vocational choice. So according to Super (1951b) Vocational Guidance is “the process of helping a person to develop and accept an integrated and adequate picture of himself and of his role in the world of work, to test this concept against reality and to convert it into a reality, with satisfaction to himself and benefit to society” from this definition it is indicated that Vocational Guidance is:

  1. A facilitative process
  2. A service rendered to the individual or group of individuals to aid him or them in choosing and adjusting to an occupation.

Also Hayes and Hopson (1981) identified that traditionally Vocational Guidance or Career Guidance is “a specialist advisory service that carefully match the talents and interest of school leavers against what is known about jobs”.

Whatever definition one seems to adopt it is pertinent that any Vocational Guidance service consist of the following factors:

  • Individual has information about himself (abilities, interest, needs, ambitions etc).
  • Information about his environment, advantages and disadvantages of different careers and educational courses leading to them is given.
  • Provide him a frame of reference through which he can see himself in relation to others.
  • Provide placement service to help him implement his plans.
  • Provide follow-up service to help


Purpose of Career Guidance

The main purpose of Career guidance is to enable the individual make as much as possible a realistic choice because entering into a wrong job may have the following consequences on such individuals.

  • It may adversely affect one’s health physically. A boy who is not physically strong and takes into mechanical profession may endanger his physical health through lifting of heavy instruments. Thought in developed countries, such instruments may be lifted by machines, there may be a time one’s physical strength may be called to test in a mechanical job especially in Nigeria where machines to lift such heavy instruments are not readily available.
  • It may lead one into a company of wrong friends which may also lead to acquisition of a bad life style.
  • It may also lead to insecurity on the job. Since you don’t like the job, you don’t perform well and this may earn you a bad record in the services.
  • It may lead an individual to wrong educational planning especially during the secondary school stage.
  • Constant unhappiness in life may also result. This unhappiness leads to maladjustment vocationally thereby setting in inferiority complex. This feeling may be the main cause of abnormal behavior and vocational maladjustment.

Nature of Career Guidance

The characteristics of Career Guidance which in turn makes up the nature will be highlighted here:

  1. Vocational or Career guidance is said to be essentially a developmental process concerned with anticipating crisis and future decision-making situations. This is especially the case with the students of the new educational system.
  2. Vocational guidance is client-centered or helpee-centered. This means the helper, i.e Guidance counselor’s prime duty is to the helpee or client and not to any institutional authority like the school principals, teachers or ministry officials.
  3. Practically it is difficult to separate educational and vocational guidance because decisions of the former affect the latter and vice-versa. So both should be seen as an aid to the decision making of the other.
  4. Vocational guidance must be concerned with the total life of the individual since its unthinkable to separate one’s working life from non working life, therefore vocational guidance should not focus on work issues alone.
  5. Finally, vocational guidance should not impose values and choices on the individual. The client is only assisted and encouraged to define his own problems and make appropriate decision and take responsibility for such decisions.

Meaning of Career

Career is a lifelong activity. It is a chosen life work or an overall work one does in a given job in one’s lifetime. Career includes the different types of work you do as a teacher, the different types of positions you occupy in teaching throughout your life in teaching. If your career is teaching, you will find yourself doing other jobs like marking examination scripts, sporting activities, gardening and supervision. At other times, you occupy the position of class teacher, assistant headmaster/mistress, headmaster/mistress, NUT official, schools inspector. All these are part of teaching career.

Collection of Career Information

It is essential for the counselor or career master to gather sufficient facts, possess sound knowledge and ideas about different careers for him to be able to assist students in their career decision making process. The two major areas of importance where information is needed for career guidance are:

(a) Information about self

(b) Information about the career of interest.

Information about Self – i.e. person who wants to choose a career.

Although self-assessment is needed by an individual in areas which include:

(i) Area of his interest;

(ii) The type of person he is. Is he an introvert or extrovert, aggressive or lovely person? You need to know this.

(iii) The educational background of the person.

(iv) The performance in the school subjects. All these you need to know about the person for a good career decision making.

Information about the Career of Interest

You will gather information on career of interest by considering the following:

(1) Study of occupational information that is available in publications like:

  • Periodicals in Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity;
  • Magazines and books in the National Directorate of Employment (NDE);
  • Books, Periodicals and Magazines by Labour Unions/Associations/Organizations/Institutes such as Michael Imoudu Institute of Labour Studies;
  • Business and Commercial Publishers; and
  • Magazines, newspaper publications on job vacancies.

(2) Use of films, filmstrips, slides, etc. which present occupational information.

(3) Use of career exploration kits and career games.

(4) Personal visit to employers in the fields of interest.

(5) Interviewing workers in occupations.

(6) Securing part-time or long vacation jobs in occupations of interest. Scanning newspapers and magazines for information on occupations.

Dissemination of Career Information

As a counselor or career master, you should be able to make available, present, interpret and explain all the facts, ideas and other data already collected about occupations to the students. This can be done by considering the following:

  1. Establishment of career resource material center where career materials are carefully organized and made available.

The Centre should be composed of:

  • Occupational descriptions;
  • Occupational outlook projections;
  • Post-secondary educational and training information;
  • Apprenticeship and internship information;
  • Information for special populations, and
  • Financial aid information.
  1. Lending to students, all career related materials.
  2. Organization of career days, field trips, parent conferences, career club, work study/tour, work experiences and library.
  3. Counseling interview (individual or group) through the use of audio-visual, tape recorders, overhead projectors, flannel graph and magnetic board, bulletin board, films and filmstrips, periodic announcements and career education.
  4. Guidance on choice of appropriate subject combination that is congruent with choice of particular career of interest.
  5. Provide specific information about each occupation with reference to:
  • Definition;
  • Work performed;
  • Personal requirements; and
  • Training opportunities and entry requirements.

Career Planning

Planning is time tabling of how activities will be carried out. In planning, attention should be paid to material resources that are available for use in carrying out the plans. In a similar way, one needs to make a time-table of how he wants to get into the type of work one intends to do in the future. The planning of the type of work one wants to do in the future involves acquiring the necessary education needed and taking the type of subjects to qualify one for the job. It also involves preparing your mind towards the job. All these are part of career planning. You should consider the following points while you are engaged in the career planning exercise:

  1. Quality of education provided by the client’s parent.
  2. Peer-group influence on the client’s life.
  3. Type of school attended i.e. a student who attended a teacher training college has already been prepared to be a teacher.
  4. Subject combination i.e. a child who wants to be a medical doctor should offer subjects like physics, chemistry and biology.
  5. Prospect of employment.
  6. Prestige of the career of interest.
  7. Economic gains to be derived from a career. Most people plan for career that attract high salary while others look for retirement benefits, allowances, holidays etc.
  8. Safety – Most people prefer careers that involve limited amount of hazard so that they can live long and in good health. There are other careers that involve great deal of hazards which can suddenly terminate life like military, industrial engineering. All these are important for the counselor and student clients to consider in the process of career guidance.

 Stages in Career Planning, Collection of and Dissemination of Information

Three basic areas to be considered here are the fantasy, tentative and realistic stage.

  1. The Fantasy stage refers to the period when one is still day- dreaming about many careers that are attractive to an individual. At this stage, a person acts like a child who wants to have everything shown to him/her. Fantasy stage means that the individual wants to be a lawyer today, tomorrow it is teaching career he wants, the next day it is accounting he wants. It is actually a period of confusion for the individual.
  2. Tentative stage occurs when the individual begins to get settled down to a career that appeals to him. For example, if in a fantasy stage he has about 10 1 0 3 careers that appealed to him, at the tentative stage, he may settle down to consider seriously may be only five or six. He then begins to plan for these careers, some of them, he may drop later.
  3. The Realistic stage. At this stage, the individual is mature to make a concrete decision of the type of career he thinks is good for him. By this stage, all the factors affecting career planning as indicated earlier have been considered. The individual is now convinced that possibly going into teaching career is best for him. The choice becomes realistic because he would have considered the type of education he has, the school subjects taken and the possibility of getting quickly employed. Every individual in the process of planning, collecting and using information goes through the above mentioned stages. Any counseling interaction should be used for assisting clients, after gathering all the necessary information to enhance career decision making process.

The use of Tests in Career Guidance

There is an overwhelming number of tests which may be used in career guidance. Using a classification, which in various forms has a very long history; tests can be divided into three main categories, namely: tests of ability, of personality, and tests of attitudes and interests.

Ability tests can in turn be divided into two main sections, often called achievement tests and aptitude tests. A distinction between these two, is often difficult to sustain, but is considered to depend on the idea that achievement tests are usually of school subjects – English, Mathematics, Economics and so on and are used after a period of deliberate teaching of that subject, while aptitude tests are more abstract and aim to test thought processes and ideas which are common to and generalized from a wide range of subject and other learning. The intelligence test is the most widely known type of aptitude test. In all cases, aptitude tests are used to predict future performance of the person being tested. Tests of ability have been used very widely in all forms of guidance in schools.

Personality tests have a cheered history in careers guidance. This is probably due to the very elusive concept of personality, which is usually taken to mean the relatively constant emotional qualities of a person, his major needs and drives whether conscious or unconscious. But over and above, problems of definition, Adedipe (1986) shows that, there has been extreme difficulty in establishing a clear dependable relation between any test estimate of personality and a work setting. Perhaps the most useful type of personality test in careers guidance work is the self- report in careers.

Attitude tests in careers have been widely developed; there is a tendency for such tests to be specific to research problems rather than for general use. Super and Overstreet (1960) have used such tests in an interesting way in their study of vocationally maturity.

Interest tests on the other hand have been widely developed. In recent years, interest tests have been revised and developed in Nigeria. Tests such as Bakare’s “Vocational Interest Inventory” (VIT), Akinboye’s “Vocational Interest Data Inventory” (APDI) and Adedipe’s “Self Evaluation of Vocational Interest (SEVI) is a few examples of tests used in Nigerian schools. All of these aim at exploring the personal interests of the client, and comparing the pattern of interests with that of people in general or with patterns commonly found in occupational groups.



However, Career guidance holds out an attractive promise for the vocationally confused persons. The job market increasingly becomes tighter everybody; job hunting is quite a job even for people with employable skills. By offering job-hunting skills and vocational information to youth, guidance and counseling as an educational service plays a significance role Denga (2004).

According to Onyejiaku (2001) in career guidance should not wait until the tail end of any level of formal education. It should start in time, almost immediately a child enters school. It should not be divorced from the child’s development, rather it should constitute the integral aspect of that on-going process, and hence, it should have its rightful place in the school curriculum.

Vocational theories regarding psychological and non-psychological factors of occupational choice should form the bases of entry into any job. These theories are interpreted by the counselor to help the counselee (student) make decisions. Decision – making competency is very crucial in an individual life. (Egbule, 2009, Ekpo, 2007, Onyejiaku, 2001 Denga, 2004) posited that the vocational theories help the counselor decide what data to gather about the potential vocational environments and the importance of students (client) action, interest, values, personality, educational experience and stated aspirations.


Achebe, C. C (1986). Techniques of educational and Vocational Planning in T. Ipaye (Ed) Educational and Vocational Guidance, Concepts and Approaches. Ile – Ife: University of Ife Press. Adedipe, V.O. (1997). Counselling Practicum. Internal Publishers Limited.

Anagbogu, M. A. (2005) foundation of Guidance and counselling (3rd ed). Enugu Academic Printing Press. Collins, K.. T. (2008), key works in Education, London. Longman Group Denga, D. I. (2004) Guidance and Counselling in school and non school setting (3rd ed). Port Harcourt. Double Diamond Publications.

E.A Akinade;B.O Sokan & Osarenren. (1996), An Introduction to Guidance & Counseling: A Basic Text for Colleges and Universities. Ibadan, Oyo State. Caltop Publications (Nigeria) Limited.

Egbule, J. F. (2009) counselling theories or approaches and theories in psychology Abraka. Delta state university printing press.

Ekpo, S. S. (2007) Essential of guidance & counselling. A Fundamental Approach Lagos – John Lad Publishers Ltd. Onyejiaku, F. (2001). Careers guidance and counselling services in schools, Lagos Vita-Nasco and Company.

Fetus D. Kolo, (1992), Guidance and Counseling in Perspective. Zaria, Stevano Printing Press.

Oladele, J. O (1978) Guidance and Counselling: A fundamental Approach. Lagos. John Lad Publishers Ltd.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: