(Re)Search for Career: Distance career intervention, employability and social equity in the access to the labour market
The stimulation of employment is a political concern of several countries and organizations. It represents one of the objectives of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development of the United Nations: "to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all" . Labour market changes occurred over the last few years, now aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic crisis, become job perspectives less defined and predictable over time, whilst the transitions between jobs tend to be more frequent and difficult . Such circumstances imply an active career engagement from individuals in order to subsist in a labour market characterized by high instability, flexibility, uncertainty and insecurity. This means that graduates are challenged to become active agents of their career from an early stage, in order to be able to explore - the self and the environment –, to develop – the necessary competencies –, and to prepare - the university-to-work and further possible transitions , . Despite the evident concern related with employability outcomes from Higher Education institutions, initiatives in this area have still been very much focused on instrumental and sporadic strategies , and when they are available, only a minority seek for that type of services. This gap between the need and actual help seeking can have several reasons, namely the prevalence of stigma, preference for anonymity, difficulty in matching timetables or physical distances or financial costs . Such scenario does not attend to the need for comprehensive and accessible interventions for people whatever their economic, social, cultural, educational or personal situation that scientific and political communities have appealed for, in order to foster employability .
Distance career intervention using new technologies has emerged as an opportunity to address some of these challenges. Given the ﬂexibility concerning time and space of learning, this type of programs can contribute to student engagement, mainly among non-traditional publics, including workers, cultural minorities or older students –. Although, despite the general recognized value of the use of technologies for career interventions, the effectiveness of such actions, represents an open issue in the scientific domain , especially among diversified groups of individuals , , –.
Taking this social, political and scientific overview, the general aims of the R4C project are:
(i) to develop knowledge about career resources of undergraduates with different individual and socio-cultural characteristics. Although it is known the way adaptation processes vary among individuals, there is still some uncertainty about which events or contextual circumstances influence such processes. This study will contribute to the understanding of specificities of the Career Construction Theory and to the validation of the Career Resources Framework , by addressing the variation of career resources of different publics, comprising diverse individual and contextual backgrounds;
This will inform the second part of the project, which consists on:
(ii) to develop and assess an e-learning based career intervention, adapted to the characteristics of the participants. Empirical studies in this field are scarce, and there is need for more evaluation and dissemination knowledge about what interventions work with which groups of individuals , , .
The expected contribution of this project is: (i) development of empirical evidence of the Career Resources Framework’s contribution for the field of graduates’ employability; (ii) development of knowledge about students' career resources throughout their higher education program, according to different personal and contextual circumstances; (iii) development of an e-learning based intervention program for the promotion of career resources with higher education students, according with the identified needs; (v) development of knowledge about the impact of this intervention with higher education students, with diverse individual and contextual characteristics, increasing evidence-based practices in this field. This contribution is socially and scientifically relevant because it is fundamental for academics, practitioners and policy makers to assess which type of programs need to be invested in order to promote employability in efficient and effective ways , but also, to mitigate social inequalities.
This proposal integrates the points of view of distinct areas of knowledge: education, distance education, psychology and sociology. This fields are represented by research members selected for this project due to their substantial knowledge developed in previous research projects related with higher education employability, career development and career development with vulnerable groups, social equity and e learning and student permanence in higher education.