Career Development Doesn’t Take Place in a Vacuum

Posted by: Jeffrey Landine on September 27, 2011 2:37 pm

In our last blog we indicated that we will be focusing on issues within the different career developmental phases. We begin this discussion with a focus on developmental tasks that individuals encounter during the Growth phase. Generally, this phase of career development is experienced from 4 to 13 years of age. We think it is important for career counsellors and career educators to be cognizant of how their clients resolved and learnt from a number of these tasks due to the assumption that mastering this learning lays the framework within which later concepts and behaviors are developed. In this presentation, we will focus on psychosocial development as it implicates some of the soft skills as defined, for example, in the Employability Skills 2000+ profile.

During the Growth phase, individuals encounter a number of psycho-social tasks.  This line of theorizing and research was developed by Erik Erikson and continues to explicate a significant aspect of human growth and development. Prior to the Growth phase, during the first three years of life individuals encounter the developmental tasks of trust versus mistrust, and autonomy versus shame and doubt. The next two stages, initiative versus guilt, and industry versus inferiority are encountered during the Growth period.

While we do not focus primarily on the first two stages of psycho-social development, we believe that the appropriate resolutions of these two stages are important to later development. Individuals need to develop a sense of trust in themselves and their environment.  Additionally, individuals need to become aware that they are independent individuals and that, within limits, they can act with intentionality.  The appropriate resolution of these tasks leads to developing and exercising the will in making decisions. The development of will prepares the way for resolving the issue of initiative versus guilt.

Within the Growth phase of career development, individuals develop the ability to try new things and to cope with failure as they resolve the development task of initiative versus guilt. Individuals soon learn that their initiative may and likely will place them in conflict with others. By learning to deal with and resolve this conflict, individuals develop a concept of purpose – a balance between personal initiative and the will to cooperate with others. The Employability Skills Profile 2000+ outlines a number of skills needed for the work place that implicate the ability to demonstrate initiative, work with others in a cooperative manner, and engage in conflict resolution. For example, workers need to “Be Adaptable.” These skills enable individuals to work independently or with others in a manner that meets the expectations of the job site. Another set of skills involves the ability to engage in “life-long learning.” These skills enable individuals to set personal goals and to demonstrate initiative to accomplish these goals.  

The second stage during the Growth phase is that of industry versus inferiority. During the elementary and middle years of schooling individuals resolve this stage by learning basic skills and how to get along with others. This learning lays a foundation of competence in numeracy and literacy for later years of schooling. Additionally, it strengthens the skills used to form friendships and to resolve relationship issues with peers and significant care givers. Relative to the Employability Skills 2000+, these skills are foundational for developing work skills involving “Team Work.”  On the job site, individuals need to have the ability to work well with others and the confliction resolution skills to ensure good working relationships.

We think that the resolution of each of the tasks within these four developmental stages contributes to the development of a self-system that is characterized by a sense of trust in the environment, personal autonomy, the ability to take initiative, and the personal competency to master complex learning requirements. Further, we think these important developmental milestones lay a significant foundation for adults who need to demonstrate basic personal management and teamwork skills to meet successfully the requirements and expectations of the work world.


Ateach, C.A., Kail, R.V, & Cavanaugh, J.C. (2009). Human development: A life-span view. (2nd  Canadian Ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.

Savickas, M. L. (2002). Career construction: A developmental theory of vocational behavior. In D. Brown and Associates (Eds.), Career choice and development (4th ed.) (pp. 149-205). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 By Jeff Landine and John Stewart

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

3 comments on “Career Development Doesn’t Take Place in a Vacuum”

  1. Sven says:

    thanks for share. thumbs up! sven

  2. Jeff Landine says:

    I think that John and I would both agree that being conscious of the developmental tasks at any given stage would increase the likelihood of purposeful growth. As most children are unaware or unmotivated by the importance of their own growth in these areas, it falls to the adults in their lives to structure their activities and experiences to foster growth.

  3. Being aware of the developmental task in every stage can help improve the individual’s personal growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *