New Challenges in Career Planning

A number of special areas challenge us today in career planning: culturally deprived minorities, women workers, demands of young people, and the shift in age distribution, to name some of the more important. Let’s look at the nature of each of these problems.

Culturally deprived minorities. In the United States, laws prohibit discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, age, or national origin. Both public and private moneys have contributed to training programs to teach skills to so-called hardcore unemployables. But as one job corps placement officer says: “We can train people, but this doesn’t necessarily make them employable!” At best, it provides an entree to work. To stay in the job once obtained requires more than skill. It requires good work habits, team contribution, a view of one’s job in the perspective of others it touches-in fact, life habits that adapt to the regimen of organized daily work. To help the minority worker acquire these characteristics involves long-range, complicated interaction with him-one that we do not yet understand. But to obtain and keep a first job is hardly the American dream. The old dream (and there is no reason to suppose that it has died) is to have the opportunity to advance at least a little way up the ladder. So the career advancement problem (barely explored, much less resolved) of the minority worker shares the limelight with employability on a modest basis now, but it will surely gain increasing significance in the years ahead. Its resolution will contribute much to the satisfactory outcome of the ongoing social revolution.

Women. The most common reason firms give for failing to employ women or to consider them seriously for promotion opportunities is that they will leave to marry, to have a child, or to follow their husbands to a new career opportunity in a different geographic location. A number of things are happening to play down the validity of this argument. First, there appears to be a trend toward greater mobility among males, so that the relative position of men and women is now more even. Second, changes in social mores and values have contributed to the desire and need for married women to remain in the workforce. Third, both fear of overpopulation and improved understanding of birth control methods have decreased the birth rate. But while the trend is down, nevertheless, from a career standpoint, the typical woman worker probably must plan for an interrupted career. This poses problems for her and for the organization she joins. Yet the law says: “No

In addition, the psychological problem of men reporting to women must be faced and resolved by both sexes if promotions are to be available equally. Fortunately, the trends toward greater democracy and participation in managing bode well. And the concept of the manager’s role that plays down its ascendancy should not only help the woman to assume managerial rank but also allow her to achieve stature and full rewards as a professional, contributor as well.

Demands of young people. The rate at which we are adding information in all fields, the improvements in teaching methods, and the multiplicity of communications media are helping to provide the young college graduate entering the workforce with greater knowledge qualifications than ever before. He also brings with him impatience, a cavalier attitude toward long-standing policies, a questioning mind, and non-acceptance of many of the working values of an earlier age. Young people place greater emphasis on human relationships than did previous generations. They expect more of their employers. They look upon their careers as means of realizing their potential. But many do not see work as a 24-hour-a-day responsibility; they do not see a single employer as deserving of lifelong loyalty unless it serves their interests. They are quite accustomed to thinking in terms of world opportunity, and they are less tied to a single geographic location. Frequently the product of a broken home, they place a high value on and expect to work toward a close, meaningful marital relationship. Therefore they won’t buy the 24-hour-a-day job. And so their work habits are likely to be different from those of people in the current workforce. This poses problems for them and for their employers. New systems are needed to release their great capabilities for useful results and to help them achieve that first promotion quickly and soundly.