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Vocational guidance for schoolchildren in St. Petersburg

On February, 28, 2019, Daniel A. Alexandrov have announced the results of our research on the Saint Petersburg youth vocational guidance system to the listeners of the Saint-Petersburg International Labor Forum. 

The research was conducted in autumn of 2018. Our cooperation with Labor and Employment Committee and Education Committee has granted us access to various participants of the vocational guidance process, including children, parents, and experts in the field. We gathered the information about the services provided by vocational guidance organizations, both commercial and governmental, from the Internet; surveyed 1585 high school students and 374 parents and grandparents from 29 city schools, carried out a series of interviews with educational authorities, methodologists, and psychologists of municipal and district centers of vocational guidance. All of that allowed to describe the state of affairs in the field and to recommend ways of improving the system. 

The main problem of the system is late start of students’ vocational guidance. In Saint Petersburg, it is actively implemented only from 9-th grade. Vocational guidance is more suited to help a student to choose a future educational institution than to help to choose a professional path. In most schools meetings, excursions and special activities are carried out for vocational guidance purposes. Alongside that there are many commercial and governmental centers that can help students. Nevertheless, only one third of parents knows about these services, with parents being the most important agents for children’s professional self-determination. Being poorly informed about vocational guidance programs in schools and specialized centers, parents cannot use these recourses to help their child to make the right choice. One third of all parents does not see vocational guidance of a child as a necessity, as they doubt its usefulness. However, the small portion of parents whose children did use the help of the centers reveal that it helped them to confirm their previous professional choice, pick their professional field or narrow it down to fewer array of professions. Paid vocational testing is not popular. In general, a lot of work towards providing vocational guidance is being done in Saint Petersburg, but methodologists, psychologists, and teachers report a complete lack of coherence among actions on different levels. 

At the same time, international experience shows that the most successful in terms of professional choice countries are those that start vocational guidance at a very young age. Vocational guidance is important not only for making the right decision about one’s career, but for facilitating positive self-esteem in teenagers: feeling confident about their skills, feeling motivated, having positive expectations from their actions. Moreover, it is proven that providing teenagers with necessary knowledge of their career possibilities and skills needed for landing a suitable job leads to the further economical growth of a country as a whole. 

The results of our research have been summarized in a brochure, where you can find the information about vocational guidance systems in multiple countries with explanation of which ones are the most effective. You can also find there the analysis and findings about different participant groups and out recommendations for the system’s improvement.