Choosing a right career option is the most vital decision in everyone's life.
Students go through a dilemma of choosing a career after completing their basic education.
Apart from the widely known and perceived ‘lucrative’ careers such as medicine, engineering, pharmacy, management, etc., there are numerous other career options available in the field of technology, healthcare, hospitality and tourism industry, media and others.
The choice of a career depends on the job prospects of the field and most certainly the interest of the candidate.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has the potential to promote the productive participation of many people in the labour market, equipping them with the necessary skills to undertake the jobs of the future.
However, this potential remains largely unfulfilled in certain occupational sectors in TVET.
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In many developing countries such as Ghana, students are much less likely to enrol in TVET because of the poor image and low perception about TVET.
Meanwhile, advancement in science and technology and changes in industry and occupations have necessitated the emergence of thousands of specialised jobs and occupations, hence the need for effective career guidance services in schools.
The Education Commission (EC-1964-66) observes that guidance should be regarded as an integral part of education and not as a special, psychological or social service, which is peripheral to educational purposes.
It is meant for all students not just for those who deviate from the norm in one direction or the other.
The objective of education ,therefore, is to provide opportunities for students to reach their full potentials in academic, vocational, social and emotional development.
Education fosters all aspects of an individual’s personality.
Thus, guidance and counselling is the bedrock for achieving self-actualisation.
It is a process of helping people to discover their needs, interest and capabilities in order to formulate their own goals and make plans to realise them.
In Ghana, there is need for effective guidance and counselling services for students at all levels - basic, secondary and tertiary institutions particularly in TVET.
Career or vocational guidance is a process of assisting the individual to choose an occupation, prepare and progress in it.
It is concerned primarily with helping individuals make decisions and choices involved in planning a future and building a career.
Career guidance and orientation is relevant to the quality and effectiveness of TVET programmes at two stages:
prior to entering a TVET programme, and within the TVET programme.
According to Watts (2009), two principles are important prior to entry into TVET programme:
• That all young people should be made aware, within their career education programmes, of TVET options alongside the other options available to them;
• That young people interested in TVET options should have access to career counselling, supported by high-quality career information, to ensure that their choices are well informed and well thought through.
The purpose for assisting students to choose, prepare, enter and progress in a vocation/career is for the optimum growth of the individual.
The aim of career guidance is to assist students to discover their own abilities and skills; help them to develop an attitude towards work; and to think critically about various types of occupations, analyzing, and aligning them to their interests.
TVET Careers guidance and counselling in schools is key to resolving the many challenges students face in choosing and pursuing the right career.
Absence or inadequate career guidance and counseling results in students pursuing careers they are not passionate about because they lack the requisite and relevant information to enable them make life changing decisions regarding career choices of their interest and may not fit for the job market.
It is also important that career education and career counselling should be supported by relevant career information.
In relation to TVET, such provision needs to include information on:
• The available TVET options;
• The qualifications to which they lead, and the further qualifications to which they give access;
• The occupations to which these qualifications provide access, and the extent to which the qualifications are sufficient for entry;
• The salary/wage levels offered by these occupations;
• The projected demand for these occupations (Watts, 2009).
To reduce the negative perception of TVET in Ghana, the government and stakeholders must endeavor to make TVET attractive by equipping TVET institutions with state-of-the-art equipment and materials, reviewing and converting the curricula into Competency-Based Training (CBT) mode, training instructors among others.
There is the need for all stakeholders –government, ministries, departments and agencies responsible for education, academic institutions, teachers, parents, industry, the community, students and the youth to collectively discuss effective ways to promote career guidance in schools in general.
At the moment, the programmes and activities that will promote TVET at national, school and community level will include: campaigns and advocacy programmes, career guidance and counselling sessions about TVET programmes (to be handled by trained counselors and facilitators), TVET careers and open days, school talks and presentations by TVET experts, use of role models in TVET, organising industrial visits and TVET camps for students, radio and TV discussions on the prospects of TVET, one-on-one interviews/counselling for girls.
The high point is to make TVET free and accessible, inclusive and relevant. This will make TVET attractive to the youth and ensure that students who choose TVET careers remain in them and progress to acquire the needed skills for national development.
The writer works as Gender & Disability Coordinator at COTVET