Most school pupils receive no guidance on careers

It is 50 years since the notion of career guidance was first introduced into the Greek education system, when a 1953 law specifically mentioned the need for career preparation. Though the subject has been taught regularly in schools for years, the majority of this year’s high school graduates say they remain uninformed about what careers are available. A survey conducted last May by the Study and Careers Office of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki among 2,140 final-year high school pupils who were also candidates for tertiary education found that more than half of them (57 percent) said they had no information at all from their schools on the question of studies or careers; 34.7 percent said they had enough information, while only 8.1 percent said they had a lot of information. The dimensions of the problem become apparent now in summer, when candidates for tertiary education submit applications for universities and colleges. Of the candidates questioned, 27.5 percent hoped to get more information about career prospects from the universities themselves. This highlights the lack of cooperation between tertiary and secondary education. Another 17.4 percent of pupils prefer to get information from school, while 7.2 percent prefer discussions with market executives. The answers show that something is amiss with the school career guidance system. In recent years, 68 prefectural career advice centers (KESYP) and 200 career offices (GRASEP) have been in operation in schools, and European funds – 34,000 euros for each center and 15,000 for each office – have been spent on upgrading them. So what is to blame? The subject is taught for an hour a week in the third year of junior high school, and for an hour in the second term of first-year senior high school. But this is apparently not sufficient. «It is correct that the subject taught in junior and senior high school tries to bring out the pupils’ inclinations and interests,» says Christina Athanasiadou, a psychologist who conducted the study. «But the candidates have to learn what goes on in the job market and about the career prospects for departments and faculties,» she adds. The crucial moment is when they get to the final year of senior high. «What is clearly needed is an hour of career information, at least at the end of the final year, so that candidates can find out about universities and colleges,» says Stefanos Tzepoglou, consultant to the Teacher Training College. He considers one of the basic problems to be the lack of trained staff in this field. The subject is currently taught by teachers from different disciplines, who are simply making up their mandatory number of work hours. The few trained staff work in central offices, and the school career offices are few and not well received. The Teacher Training College has issued a directive on career prospects in every discipline, which is also available online, but such initiatives remain unknown to candidates who are left to find their own way among the courses of study on offer.

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