Subject and Career Counseling

Although South Africa is doing a lot to improve the yearly matric results, still too little attention is given to subject and career guidance to learners during their high school years. Without effective subject- and career guidance, many matriculants will not be able to make informed choices when it comes to their future career paths.

The lack of career guidance at our schools is evident when thousands of newly matriculated individuals flock to universities while other options like TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) colleges are being overlooked. This leads to a large number of learners making wrong study choices and they will not be able to complete their studies. Shocking statistics also indicate that only as little as 15 % of first-year students successfully complete their first academic year.

Why is career counseling so important?

Subject and career guidance are like a road map. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there. Career guidance can help individuals from various ages/grades to navigate them at crossroads in their lives. Once people know where they are headed, they become motivated and driven to work towards their goals.

People consult career counselors when they need to make tough decisions regarding what school to go to, what the most appropriate subjects would be for them to choose? whether to go to university or college and what field study to choose. Some individuals even consult career consultants much later in their work life, when they begin to doubt whether they have made the appropriate career choice. Add to this the Department of Labour’s estimation that 65 % of today’s schoolchildren will end up working in jobs that don’t currently exist, it is no wonder that so many school learners and school leavers are in the dark about their future career path.

Effective subject and career guidance will help individuals to:

  • Be more motivated and self-driven individuals achieving their goals.
  • Feel comfortable, confident and content with their choice.
  • Feel less stressed about their studies and future.
  • Have a higher pass rate than those who have not had guidance.
  • Saving themselves and their parents’ money due to less failing or changing study directions at university or college.

Whose responsibility is it to initiate guidance?

Various role players can be held accountable for subject and career counseling mechanisms for example government; education and labor departments; primary, secondary and tertiary institutions; youth development agencies and private practitioners. The roles of teachers, role models, parents and peer group should also not be underestimated.

Although a lot has been done in this regard, time, money and expertise are still lacking to ensure effective guidance to all. For this reason, many parents and students contact psychologists for assistance with their study and career guidance.

What does subject and career guidance include?

For both learners and school leavers to make subject, study, or career choices are probably one of the most significant but difficult decisions. There is no perfect formula that can be used for subject, study or career choice. Each individual is different and unique regarding his/her aptitudes, interests and personality. Different occupations require different aptitudes and personality styles and the aim is to match the individual and get an ideal “occupational fit”.

Subject or career guidance sessions, usually lasting 5 to 6 hours, includes the following:

  1. Aptitude assessment:  which includes Vocabulary, Verbal reasoning, Non-verbal reasoning, Calculations, Reading comprehension, Comparison, Price controlling, Spatial visualization, Mechanical insight, and Memory. (This indicates what the individual is good in).
  2. Interest Questionnaires: In most cases, one or more interest questionnaires are taken down. These indicate an individual’s interests or lack there-of in a variety of fields of occupations. (What he likes or doesn’t like).
  3. Personality Questionnaire: In an attempt to ensure a good “personality fit” with a potential career choice, an appropriate Personality questionnaire is taken down. A variety of personality characteristics are then measured which are taken into account during feedback.
  4. Personal feedback: After completion of the tests and questionnaires, the results are scored and profiled, followed by a feedback session and a complete report is given to the candidate.

When are the assessments done?

In order to get the best result from the tests and questionnaires, assessments are being done on either Saturdays or during holidays in the morning. No schoolwork will be lost and learners can ensure that they are well rested.   

Ensure you do what makes you happy

It is so important to pursue a field which genuinely interests you, as the vast majority of your life will be spent working and everything is just so much better when you do something you love.

It is therefore of utmost importance that, whether you are choosing subjects or making a decision on study or career choices, that it is in line with your interests and career dreams. You are the one who has to make the decision; there for you have to do the best research you can to get to the best outcome.

“Find what you are good at, become excellent at it, and pursue opportunities where these skills are in demand”
- Anonymous