Rural Careers Educators' Professional Identity and Practice

Year: 2017

Author: Fuqua, Melyssa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation explores preliminary findings of doctoral research into the extent that a rural context might impact on the professional identities and practices of careers educators across Victoria. Following the OECD's 2002 Review of Career Guidance Policies, which praised Australia's attention to careers education but criticised the ad-hoc nature of its delivery, various levels of government designed frameworks to advise careers education. While some of the recommendations informed subsequent curriculum documents, schools retained autonomy in the specifics of their careers education programs. Given the recognised importance of careers education (OECD, 2002), it seems particularly vital to further investigate rural communities where decades of neoliberal policies have altered their economic future (Cuervo, 2016). Understanding how rural careers educators view themselves and their practice is a step toward ensuring students are more adequately prepared for their futures.

In this research, Mockler's (2011) model of the formation and mediation of professional identity, together with Reid et al.'s (2010) model of rural social space, will be applied to explore the influence rurality has on the designers of careers education programs in schools. A series of interviews conducted with careers educators in rural schools, each with its own combination of geographic, economic, and demographic influences are discussed.

It is evident that the careers educator's sense of professional self and understanding of their community affects the development and delivery of careers education programs. While the ability to develop tailored and appropriate careers education programs for each community should be beneficial for students, there are inhibiting issues of access to resources, adequate funding, and limited local job opportunities.