The perceptions of grade eleven pupils with regards to career choice and career information.
This study focuses on the exploration and analysis of Grade Elevens' perceptions of career choice and career information, within the Coastal region of the Durban Metropolitan area. The information about the scholars' perceptions was obtained through a structured questionnaire, with one hundred and twenty pupils who were purposively sampled from a simple random sample of public schools in the Coastal region of the Durban Metropolitan area. Both open-ended and closed-ended questions were used to gain access to their perceptions regarding career choice and career information. Tentative findings suggest that scholars generally have a narrow and simplistic conceptualisation of the term 'career', and that their understanding of the term as a life-long job is inaccurate and distorted. Consequently, teachers may need to help scholars re-conceptualise their notion of the career as a dynamic entity that is shaped by current economic, political, social and technological changes. It was also found that the majority of scholars have made a tentative career choice, which suggests the establishment of a personal, career-related identity. The findings indicate that scholars perceive the career information to which they have been exposed to be useful overall, in addition to being useful regarding its role in encouraging them to consider all possible careers, regardless of gender or culture. These findings, which contradict those of international research, seem to suggest that, in keeping with the current emphasis on national democracy in South Africa, scholars have been urged not to perceive their gender or culture as a barrier that would prevent them from pursuing their career of choice. However, cross-tabulations reveal that it is mainly girls who perceive the exploration of careers and career information in a positive light, while boys tend to hold a comparatively negative view. Girls also seemed to adopt more effective decision-making approaches in the process of choosing a career, compared to boys. Suggested interventions include greater accessibility to varied, possibly interactive forms of career information; for example, computer-aided career exploration, and that boys be encouraged to consult a wider range of career information sources. Although scholars have been formally exposed to career guidance, tentative findings reveal a need for a more holistic and informal approach to career choice and career information; one that is well integrated within the school curriculum. This would require that all teaching staff function as a team and develop role and functional flexibility, in order to help scholars adapt to changes in the learning environment, and to develop broad and integrated learning frameworks. Importantly, scholars are urged to take a pro-active role in their career exploration. Statistical analysis indicates that girls' career choices are generally unrestricted by gender-role stereotypes, suggesting a growing interest in careers previously perceived to be male-typed, although emphasis must be placed on the importance of making realistic choices. Furthermore, cross-tabulations reveal that race and career choice are not related, thereby reinforcing the validity of earlier tentative findings, which point to the existence of generally positive perceptions of career information, with regards to its usefulness in encouraging scholars to consider a full range of careers, regardless of culture or race. Further research into scholars' perceptions of career choice and career information through focus groups, with an emphasis on the changing career aspirations of girls, may serve to facilitate a deeper understanding of the issues and perceptions that either hinder or help scholars in the process of career choice. A thorough understanding of their perceptions and the factors that shape them is necessary in order to spearhead the development of educational programmes and workshops, the aim of which would be to ensure the holistic integration of these insights within the school curriculum. The rationale underpinning further research within this field, is that once scholars become aware of their distorted perceptions of career choice and career information, they will be empowered to change them. As a result, they will be equipped to make better informed career choices that are consistent with individual interests and abilities.