ERIC Identifier: ED404580
Publication Date: 1995-00-00
Author: Redekopp, Dave E. - And Others
Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC., Canadian
Guidance and Counselling Foundation Ottawa (Ontario).
The "High Five" of Career Development. ERIC Digest.
Some experts (1) who were asked to spend a day together, summarized what they
knew about career development in five pithy messages. These messages would be
used to promote career development in Canadian youth. What resulted is the "High
Five" of career development:
Change is constant.
Follow your heart.
Focus on the journey.
Be an ally.
THE "HIGH FIVE"
The famous American philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said, "The future ain't
what it used to be." We Canadians took that statement to mean that predictions
about the future are difficult because the processes of change, not just the
content of change, are changing. In the world of work, for example, the role of
the automotive technician is changing not only due to technological changes in
cars but also due to segmentation of the industry. Therefore, the process of
defining an "automotive technician" is changing while the content of the
technician's work is also changing. Thus, predictions about the technician's
role (or any other work role) are tenuous.
Rapid and continuous technological, economic, demographic, and social changes
directly influence the world of work. As a result, the "labor market" of the
past is quickly becoming a "work dynamic" that is difficult to encapsulate with
occupational dictionaries, codes, or titles. For example, dozens of
environmental roles exist today that did not exist at the turn of the decade.
New jobs are emerging and old jobs are changing to require new skills,
knowledge, and attitudes.
Personal change occurs continuously as well. People grow and develop new
skills, attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, networks, and other assets at varying
rates. Assessment tools, the backbone of traditional career development, give
our clients the impression that change is unlikely; that who they are is who
they will be. People who recognize, value, and nurture their own fluidity, will
better adapt to their changing environments.
Likewise, goal-setting needs to be reconsidered in light of constant change.
Goal-setting can be useful, but the dogged pursuit of goals can prevent people
from optimizing chance opportunities. Goals have to be seen in context with
serendipitous discoveries. Gelatt's (1989) concept of "positive uncertainty"
When change is constant, relatively stable guideposts become all the more
important. The "heart" (the set of characteristics that includes values,
entrenched beliefs, and interests) is reasonably stable and is well worth
heeding. One's "heart" drives one's career path. Skills, knowledge, and
attitudes are simply tools that allow the path to be followed.
A corollary to this message is that dreaming is normal, natural, and
appropriate. Career development practitioners often concern themselves with
helping clients become "realistic" at the expense of their client's dreams. Many
people have "unrealistic" dreams, but there is nothing wrong with pursuing them
and cherishing them. Ultimately, reality will impose itself on people and trying
to accelerate this process may be of little benefit. On the other hand, people
can move towards their dreams when provided with the tools and strategies to do
on the Journey.
One of the reasons our field has been preoccupied with helping individuals
select appropriate occupational destinations is that we wish to help people find
work that is meaningful and fulfilling. In doing so, however, we have tended to
underemphasize the meaningfulness of the journey towards one's vision. Now,
since continual change undermines the predicting of occupational destinations,
we must take great efforts to help people enjoy the process: to better fulfill
their values, beliefs, and interests with every decision they make. In fact,
focusing on the journey means people move away from feeling a need to make "the
correct decision" ("What should I be?") and move toward examining the immediate
and enduring effects of virtually all decisions ("What do I want to be doing now
and in the future?").
"Lifelong learning" has become a catch phrase. However, the public's beliefs
imply that nothing more needs to be done once an occupational destination is
reached. We will be better able to communicate the prescription to "stay
learning" when the first three messages of the "High Five" have been adopted.
Learning is constant when change is constant, and learning can be enjoyable and
meaningful when it is seen as part of a journey that fulfills one's heart.
Unfortunately, many people cringe in terror when they hear about "lifelong
learning." People who have had limited success with formal learning are anxious
about "lifelong learning" and need to know that most learning does not occur in
formal settings. Individuals are continually accumulating assets (e.g., skills,
contacts) through experience, but few people have a mechanism by which they can
identify, record, and organize these assets. Consequently, they often do not
recognize that they have undergone a tremendous amount of learning. People need
ways to keep track of their learning experiences.
This last theme brings us back to the old idea of the importance of
community. Many people do not feel part of a community and do not have the
wherewithal to create one for themselves. Many youth, in particular, see the
labor market (or work dynamic) as something external, "out there," and distant.
They do not realize that the labor market surrounds them, and is represented by
their parents, neighbors, friends' parents, and parents' friends. These allies
surround youth, yet the two appear unable to connect with each other.
Our field and our society have stressed independence and autonomy; perhaps a
reexamination of interdependence and community would be appropriate. Asking for
help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign of strength when one can
identify a need, clearly express the need, and articulate how others can help
one meet the need. This is particularly true when one wants to learn
continually, keep up with change, and adapt to change.
The "High Five" can be described in a variety
of ways. Different client groups respond to different descriptions and examples.
We have incorporated these messages in a variety of products, workshops, and
speeches, and we have used a variety of ways to explain them. Some examples of
their application follow:
ENGAGE is a learning-to-learn system for youth that includes products and
workshops for youth, parents and teachers. The "High Five" messages form the
core of the system. (See Robb, 1995 for a description).
"Opportunities with Change" is a career development workshop for
professionals, in which the concepts and activities directly follow the "High
"Everyday Career Development" is a course and text for secondary school
teachers designed to help them infuse career development into their day-to-day
teaching activities. The course is based heavily on the "High Five." (See
Millar, 1995 for a description).
We have found that people respond favorably to these messages. Each message
has a universal quality which reaches virtually all audiences, as the following
testimonials indicate. From a grandmother who read the ENGAGE materials: "Don't
know how I reached this age without knowing and achieving some of the
suggestions. Good for any age--real treasures. We sure do a lot of muddling
along in life without knowing how to improve." Parents respond particularly
favorably to the "High Five"; the messages remove some of the intense pressure
they feel to help their children decide "what they are going to be."
The group for which these messages resonate most
strongly are front-line career development practitioners. The "High Five"
provides a framework in which they can place all their reservations about
elements of their practices (e.g., giving tests, helping clients choose
occupational destinations, ensuring clients are "realistic"); elements that they
were guiltily subverting without being able to fully explain (to themselves or
others) their reasons for doing so. We generally hear a collective sigh of
relief from practitioners when we present the "High Five."
Gelatt, H. B. (1989). "Positive uncertainty: A
new decision-making framework for counseling." Journal of Counseling Psychology,
Millar, G. (1995). "Helping schools with career infusion." ERIC/CASS Digest
Redekopp, D. E., Lemon, F., Fiske, L., & Garber-Conrad, B. (1994).
"Everyday career development: Participant's guide." Edmonton, AB: Alberta
Education, Learning Resources Distribution Centre.
Robb, M. (1995). "ENGAGE: A Career Development-Based, Learning-to-Learn
Program for Youth, Parents, & Teachers." ERIC/CASS Digest No. 95-60.
Ross, B. (1994). "Engage: Your life." Edmonton, AB: Centre for Career
(1) These individuals were Pat Butter, Donna Davidson, Barrie Day, Aryeh
Gitterman, Helen Hackett, Tracy Lamb, John McCormick, Dave Redekopp and Michele
Tocher. Don Myhre, Bev Ross and Marnie Robb formalized the messages into the