Career Tips - The First Stage - Up to 1919 in Career Counseling History

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Career counseling in the U.S. was developed in the latter part of the nineteenth century out of societal upheaval, transition, and change. This new profession was described by historians as a "progressive social reform movement aimed at eradicating poverty and substandard living conditions spawned by the rapid industrialization and consequent migration of people to major urban centers at the turn of the 20th century" (Whiteley, 1984).

The societal upheaval that gave birth to career counseling was characterized by the loss of jobs in the agricultural sector, increasing demands for workers in heavy industry, the loss of "permanent" jobs on the family farm to new emerging technologies such as tractors, the increasing urbanization of the country, and the concomitant calls for services to meet this internal migration pattern, all to retool for the new industrial economy. Returning veterans from World War I and those displaced by their return also heightened the need for career counseling.
 
The focus of the first stage was job placement. Parsons (1909) is often called the parent of career advising and began as a social worker heavily influenced by the work of Jane Addams in Chicago. In Boston, Parsons established a settlement house for young people who were either already employed or currently unemployed, or had been displaced during this period of rapid change. The placement of these young people into new jobs was one of the initial and most important purposes of the new agencies that had arisen during this period.
 
An important factor in the establishment of career counseling was the increasing involvement of psychological testing with counselors. Psychological tests became an important and necessary part of the first functional stage, that is, self-assessment. Testing gave counselor respectability in American society (Whiteley, 1984). Without a scientific procedure to justify this first step of career counseling, it is unlikely that career counseling would have been so popularly accepted. In the late 1800s, Francis Galton, Wilhelm Wundt, James McKean Cattell, and Alfred Binet made important contributions to the newly emerging field of psychological testing. It is important to note that many of the early founders were quite hesitant in prescribing psychological tests because many such popularly available tests had not been rigorously studied and researched for specific application to vocations.
 
Another important factor in the establishment of career counseling was the early support for vocational guidance that came from the progressive social reform movement. "The linkage between this movement and vocational guidance was largely built on the issue of the growing exploitation and misuse of human beings" (Aubrey, 1977, p. 290). Child labor laws provided much impetus for such collaboration as this crusade to prohibit the exploitation of children grew. Although some states, beginning with Pennsylvania, had established minimum age laws in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the first decade of the twentieth century continued to see over half a million children from 10 to 13 years of age employed, and effective federal legislation was not enacted until the passage of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Parsons was a prominent leader in the struggle to eliminate child labor.
 
Out of this transition came the founding in 1913 of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA; now the National Career Development Association [NCDA]) in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Third National Conference on Vocational Guidance (Brewer, 1942).

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David Hale has 1 articles online

Dave Hale, Ph.D., is the CEO of DHI-Communications, an international business coaching and training consultancy, specializing in social networking business development and marketing. He is widely regarded as one of the top business coaches for Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs.

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Career Tips - The First Stage - Up to 1919 in Career Counseling History

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This article was published on 2010/04/02