In 1908, Frank Parsons, the father of vocational guidance, opened the Vocational Guidance Bureau of Boston and vocational psychology was born. Since that time, vocational psychology has been dedicated to managing the interface between people and education, training and employment, and for the past thirty-eight years, Vocational Psychologist, Charles Lucas, has been continuing this tradition.
Frank Parsons once said that it is better to look for a vocation rather than a job, and he also noted that no-one should choose a vocation without thorough, careful and informed self analysis under guidance. Further, he said that it is essential that the person has an awareness of self and personal strengths, combined with an awareness and understanding of job and occupation requirements and the training necessary to move down the chosen career pathway.
Frank Parsons’ career guidance principles are as true today as they were then, and although the world of work has undergone massive changes, people essentially remain the same in that an informed and successful career choice remains a significant determiner to overall life satisfaction.
The key to the entire process of vocational psychology and the eVocational Guidance Services Package (eVGSP) is to explore and identify the unique interface that each individual has with the world of work, and to provide the career guidance necessary to ensure the “best fit” possible.
A primary function of Vocational Psychology, and career guidance in general, is to assist people to make vocational decisions that will realistically meet a range of human needs including, economic, social, emotional and physical needs all within their current operating environment. The process involves the application of the theories and techniques of vocational psychology, including job knowledge, psychological testing skills, counselling skills and knowledge of training requirements.
The NSW Vocational Guidance Bureau was established in 1926 within the Department of Education, and then in 1932, the VGB moved to the Department of Labour and Industry, as a reflection of the developing emphasis on occupational aspects, and assumed great significance following WWII in terms of the provision of manpower services to resettle the returned servicemen. The Bureau remained attached to the Department of Labour and Industry over the years with a focus upon vocational testing of school students in Year 6 and in Year 9, in preparation for vocational guidance sessions in Year 10 and Years 11 and 12, when education, training and employment decisions were being made. The testing comprised of ability, interest, values, and later, personality testing, to provide the self information for the vocational matching and decision making process. The Vocational Guidance Officer’s extensive career knowledge was supported by that venerable publication “Background to Careers” which was free to school students in NSW.
At the height of the VGB’s heyday, around 126 Vocational Guidance Officers were employed in NSW across most major cities and regions including, Lord Howe Island. Along with the explosion of unemployment in the late seventies and early eighties, there was a change of focus for vocational guidance in NSW from the traditional school student focus, to assisting the unemployed, and the versatility of the Vocational Guidance Officers at that time would see them working with community employment schemes, women’s groups, the disabled, indigenous groups and basically anywhere where vocational decisions had to be considered and made. Vocational Guidance Officers worked closely at that time with rehabilitation organisations, the Commonwealth Employment Service, Centrelink and Health Services Australia, and increasingly, they were serving a Federal employer, rather than a State employer, which eventually led to the demise of the service in 1995 as a cost cutting measure leading up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Basically, the service was devolved into the Commonwealth Employment Service and the proud tradition of seventy years service was no more. Many of the baby boomer generation would remember the Vocational Guidance Bureau and the Vocational Guidance report and indeed, it was essential to have vocational guidance assessment and counselling to facilitate entry into a trade, or nursing, and surprisingly enough, into the priesthood. Vocational Guidance Officers, Keith Dale and Lew Outteridge were the “priesthood specialists” and indeed, no-one got to the seminary without going through them first!.