Yesterday Career Guidance Was For Whites Only – Today Still No Career Guidance For All

Career guidance is under siege, I opine. Those who have an urgent need for it cry bitterly for help, the select few who access it prosper, while those who have a responsibility to provide it continue to search for solutions in all the wrong places, and this has been so for very long now.

The foremost tactical error for those who have a responsibility for the provision of career guidance is the lack of understanding of what it is actually they need to provide. In truth, there is plenty of clarity to be found in the present already. Personal experience, four years of incubating the idea plus two years of study and research into career guidance have made this abundantly clear to me.
The lack of an appropriate career guidance system even with the democratic dispensation -and much more so before and during apartheid- continues to make blacks and rural black women in particular, differently-able persons, coloureds, Indians and poor but few whites to be confronted with vast inequality in the South African society.

Mull over this subsequent truth.

If you are born in the rural areas, you are likely to be born into poverty, and very likely to die at an early age, as you would if you were born in the urban areas. If you were fortunate enough to survive, for this is your purpose in life, you will be far more likely than the rest of South Africans to grow up in a zone where there is no career guidance, and so, high rate of unemployability, hopelessness, hard labour, abundant leisure time, very high maternal and infant mortality rate, starvation, crime and mental illness and virtually all adults of the working age will have drifted to the economically viable cities or will have been prisoned or executed in the past decades by their enemies. If you are black and are in other places of the world other than Africa, in the same way, your ancestors will have been slaves anyway. Alas, you will have ended up learning to survive rather than live. When you did, you will have learnt the subordinate way of life at the service of your racial counterparts.

Recently in South Africa, you surely will have taken part in the wage strike, if not because your job is to provide ‘essential services’ and you went to work instead of joining the action, you will have been threatened by your comrades for betraying the struggle and subsequently warned by your employer, at the end, you will have been affected by ‘no-work-no-pay’ rules. One thing for sure, you will be far from complacence.

Today, in the rural conditions where no career guidance is available to the people, families suffer because few heads of households -if any- are able to find the kinds of jobs that enable them to express their innermost interest and provide economic support for their household. As a result, separation and divorce shoot up. Mothers find it difficult to support their children with staple food or social grants. When children reach the school going age -often without believing in their ability to succeed- they attend schools where the buildings are degenerating and often with perfectly demotivated educators. Mental health problems thrive because those who reside in such places live in difficult situations and are prone to stressors.

Yesterday career guidance was used as a means to insert the continuing reality of unequal opportunities between races in the South African society. Even today, the situation is such that people in racial groups who grow up in areas where career guidance is deficient will not have the same opportunities in life as their counterparts who are in conditions of career guidance abundance. This has had real devastating effects – the most obvious being to equate the white race to absolute purity and their black counterparts with mediocrity.

I have opined elsewhere that there is enormous evidence to prove that the current interventions have not been enough to counteract the continuing, and to a great degree, deepened economic ostracism and the education and work mismatch, in the areas where most blacks, coloureds, Indians and poor but few whites live. My concrete suggestion is that career guidance must be professionalized. This will address the questions of content, modes of implementation, availability, accessibility, usability, and leadership in the field of career guidance service. Ideally, you should have career guidance practitioners as you have your medical practitioners and lawyers, of course, they must be independent of educators and psychologists. In the prospect, not doing so will be to certificate socio-economic inequality and will be to further divide a South Africa that is so alive with the possibility of ultimate unity.

By definition, this service is meant to support people of all ages, races, genders and capabilities at all stages of their lives, to make informed decisions about the way of life they choose. Yesterday this service was for whites only; today I call for professionalized career guidance for all. Let’s engage.