Career Pathways Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

The formation of an occupational identity is often considered an important stage of adolescent development (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2011). However, many youth do not know where to obtain career information and do not understand the decisions they need to make concerning their future (Julien, 1999). In junior high students are already beginning to think about gaining work experience, choosing courses for high school, and are looking for information on post-secondary institutes (Bardick, Bernes, & Witko, 2004). Schools require coordinated efforts with school counsellors to ensure that students and parents have proper information, supports and encouragement for successful career development (Gibbons, Borders, Wiles, Stephan, & Davis, 2006).

Youth want career-related experiences and knowledge about how to make critical decisions that will impact their future. Accordingly, the Career Pathways module was developed to better understand and support students by helping schools make informed decisions regarding relevant instruction, programs, and vocational experiences for students. The survey questions are designed to identify the ‘assets’ that youth have and are grouped into five themes: Understanding Themselves; The Influence of Others; Understanding the World of Work; School Experiences; and Family Background.

Why is it important?

  • Adolescents vary in their level of readiness to seek information and make decisions related to careers (Julien, 1999).
  • Many students feel that they should have engaged in the process of career planning much earlier in their academic career (Canadian Career Development Foundation, 2015).
  • Early work experiences are linked to future career planning and exploration (Creed, Patton, & Prideaux, 2007).
  • Students often look to their parents, teachers, and friends for guidance on career-related decisions (Rogers, Creed, & Glendon, 2008).

How do we measure it?

The OurSCHOOL Secondary school survey questions focus on student’s perceptions of their career identities as well as their active engagement in career exploration. The results are presented within the Interactive Charts as Career Pathways – Aspirations, which presents the percentage of students who selected the following career pathways: Trade, College, University, Work and Do not know.

"Further detail" charts provide a breakdown of:

(a) Students Committed to a Particular Job or Career,
(b) Knowing What Career They Want to Pursue,
(c) Frequency of Career Exploration and Planning,
(d) Engagement in Career Exploration and Planning,
(e) Students Actively Engaged in Career Exploration,
(f) Students with a Strong Level of Career Knowledge,
(g) Perceived Obstacles,
(h) Students’ Use of Resources, and
(i) Perceived Importance of Skills. The results can also be viewed within the Career Pathways Thematic Report.


Bardick, A. D., Bernes, K. B., Magnusson, K. C., & Witko, K. D. (2004). Junior high career planning: What students want. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 38(2), 104-117.

Canadian Career Development Foundation. (2015). Career Education in Atlantic Canada: Research & Recommendations.

Creed, P. A., Patton, W., & Prideaux, L. A. (2007). Predicting change over time in career planning and career exploration for high school students. Journal of adolescence, 30(3), 377-392.

Gibbons, M. M., Borders, L. D., Wiles, M. E., Stephan, J. B., & Davis, P. E. (2006). Career and college planning needs of ninth graders–as reported by ninth graders. Professional School Counseling, 10(2), 168-178.

Julien, H. E. (1999). Barriers to adolescents' information seeking for career decision making. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50(1), 38-48.

Rogers, M. E., Creed, P. A., & Glendon, A. I. (2008). The role of personality in adolescent career planning and exploration: A social cognitive perspective. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(1), 132-142.

Skorikov, V. B., & Vondracek, F. W. (2011). Occupational identity. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (p. 693–714). Springer Science + Business Media.

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