How do young people choose a career?



At the end of high school, young people must decide on a career path. How do they do this? Louis Cournoyer, a career counselling researcher in the Faculty of Education Sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to better understand the cognitive, behavioural and socio-relational processes that lead to this important decision.

The students' responses helped to establish a typology by identifying seven different decision-making profiles.

No less than 2,155 secondary 5 students from 17 schools responded to a French version of the Career Decision Making Profile, a questionnaire developed by Israeli researcher Itamar Gati, to which Louis Cournoyer added questions about support, social networks and the construction of career objectives. It is one of the largest samples ever obtained in guidance research on Québec youth. 165 students then took part in semi-structured interviews.

The students' responses helped to establish a typology by identifying seven different decision-making profiles. These profiles differ in relation to certain factors such as the nature of the student's relationships with others, whether the decision is made alone or is subject to external influences, and whether the student plays an active or passive role in the decision-making process. No one profile is better than another, as each one presents its own issues. 

These research results should support the development of the practice of guidance. Indeed, the seven profiles contribute to the identification of more personalized interventions for young people, as their needs are better targeted. The researcher has developed a training course for guidance counsellors and has also written a book published by Septembre Éditeur to transfer this knowledge to the general public, especially parents of teenagers.