How Might the Non-work Structural Factors Assist or Prevent an Individual from Achieving their Career Choice? Essay

In the 3rd and 4th edition of his book ‘Sociology, Work and Industry’ T J Watson makes reference to non-work structural factors. These non-work factors include class, family, education, race/ethnicity, gender and media and peer influences. (Taken from the essay theme sheet: Occupational Choice by David J Edwards)

Class can affect an individual achieving their career choice by, the higher the socio-economic group a person comes from (or the higher the economic power of their family), the better education they are likely to receive as their family is likely to have a surplus income so they can afford a better education for their children. Socio-economic class can have both advantages and disadvantages to a person when looking at a career! As a person from a higher socio-economic group is more likely to be able to walk into a senior management role if the owner of directors are friends or a family member, compared to those of someone from a lower socio-economic group. In the early Twentieth Century, military promotions (to a commissioned officer level) were often based on the social class of a person. I come from a C2 family and am determined to up my social class, by going into a management position to do better for myself than my parents did for themselves.

Another non-work factor is the family a person is raised in. This can be very important at a pre-work stage when an individual is thinking about jobs and careers because families will (or will not) offer support and advice assisting the individual to set initial career goals. There can sometimes be some family pressure put upon a person to go into the same career as another family member (e.g. doctor or more famously in the 1960’s- 1970’s a miner). This is often known as parental expectations.

“One of the most significant influences researchers found on children is the media: television programmes, news coverage and children’s books. It seems it really can make a difference if children have books that are careful not to reinforce gender stereotypes, for instance”. (Source: The Observer, 12th November 2000)

Education is also a non-work factor, and is often tied into class, hence the more money a family has, the better the education they can afford to offer their children (e.g. sending them to private schools instead of state run schools). Education is also important when choosing a job as many jobs require formal qualifications and so the further the individual has gone in education the better qualifications they will have received and so the better career they can look forward too, and this is one of the motivating factors for me coming to university.

A person’s ethnic background/race can help or hinder their chosen career! For example, the Christian religion believes that Sunday is the Sabbath Day and so strong Christians may not want to work on a Sunday and so would not want a job that demands Sunday work. Other religions dictate the type of jobs there follows may work in (e.g. Muslims may not work in certain entertaining jobs). A non native- English speaker may struggle to fit into a job where there was a lot of communication required, but someone with strong religious views may fit well into some jobs (e.g. Religious Education- teaching).

Gender issues relating to work often stem back to the pre-work era where young people are playing with toys that suggest certain jobs are for certain sexes (e.g. Action Man may portray a solider as a mans job) but toys today are becoming more gender neutral, so do not suggest that certain jobs are for certain genders!

Women have often been discriminated against in the workplace. In 1997 women were paid on average �297 per week (�15,444 per year), compared to men that were paid �409 per week (21,268 per year) (source: The Times, 18 July 2001). It is now illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their gender.

Some sitcoms shows on T.V. portray certain jobs in a good or bad light (e.g. the Channel 4 programme ‘Teachers’ shows teaching in a bad light) and this can put an individual off going into a certain career as it gives them a mental picture of what that job would be like even if this is not an accurate picture, but other sitcoms e.g. ‘The Salon’, gloss some jobs up to make them more glamorous than they actually are and so people want to go into these jobs without an actual idea of what the job is really like! Other program’s show jobs as they often really are, for example, ‘Casualty’ shows the pressures that medical staff in the NHS face, but it also shows how rewarding a job in medicine can be! This is known as Media Influence and can be responsible for a person’s career choice. “The most attractive careers to young people in the medical world was been a doctor in an emergency department or an ambulance man- jobs associated with exiting, life saving images”. (Source: The Observer, 12th November 2000)

Peer pressure is another non-work factor that can influence an individual’s choice of career. For example, if a guy told his mates that he wanted to be a flight attendant he would probably be considered as wanting to do a women’s job and this could turn his mates against him. This could put him off a career in the airline industry, but this may be seen as acceptable in twenty years time as twenty years ago nursing was perceived as a women’s job but it is now seen as acceptable for both men and women to be nurses.

The four main resources an individual may need when approaching work are: cash, skills, knowledge and physique. Cash is mainly class determined and can influence how far an individual is willing to go to find work, for example, someone with a lot or surplus income may not need to work as much as someone with a deficit surplus income. Skills and knowledge often come from an individual’s education or previous experiences. Employers often require some formal qualifications from an employee or some relevant work or social experiences. Certain jobs require the person doing them to be physically fit or of a certain height, for example, firefighters need to have upper body strength to be able to control powerful jets of water and lift heavy things.

The Work Sphere Structural Factors in the pre-work influences are occupational structure and prevailing labour market (number and type of job vacancies).

Individuals may choose a career that has an occupational structure as then they know that jobs will be available as well as promotion been a possibility, and this can be motivating because not only will they be doing a new job they are also likely to get a pay rise for doing it. When looking at a career I will be looking for a company that has a structure for me to work up as I want to start as a worker but want to end up in a senior management position.

With many industries becoming more and more mechanized, less people are required to do the same jobs so this has lead to us having a labour required economy, so when demand is greater than supply the job an individual wants may have a large rejection rate. For example, in the airline industry, for every one pilots job that becomes available there are three people wanting to fill that position and so these kinds of figures may put an individual off a career as a pilot.

After researching a career a person may use the feedback to change their individual approach to work (both in a positive and in a negative way). Their motives, expectations, interests and aspirations may all change. It may boast their motivation and expectation if what they have researched is positive for them, but it may make them change their interests or lower their aspirations if the research comes back negative.

What if all of these factors work against a person? If all these factors work against a person they are unlikely to get satisfaction if they go into their second choice career, but this can be recovered later in life, if the person wants to change their career enough!

Career can be defined as “a sequence of occupations, jobs or positions engaged in, or occupied throughout a lifetime of the person” (Source: Tyson and Jackson)

Schein thought a person’s working life could be broken down into nine stages, which he called Life Stages.

1. GROWTH- This is the initial thought and attempt to choose a career. This tends to be students but does not only occur at school but at home as well. This is the stage that I am at, at the present time.

2. ENTRY INTO WORK- This is a change in role for an individual often been from student to part of a workforce.

3. TRAINING- This is usually done doing the induction process to a company.

4. FULL MEMBERSHIP EARLY- This is when an individual is qualified to perform a particular task or role within a business.

5. FULL MEMBERSHIP MID- This tends to happen when a person reaches their early 30’s (in age) and take on a role such as a team leader, supervisor or junior manger.

6. MID CAREER CRISIS- This tends to happen between the ages of 35 and 45 and makes an individual reassess their career options and even if they are in the right career for them.

7. LATE CAREER- This happens after the age of 45 and normally involves taking on a leadership or management position.

8. DECLINE AND DISENGAGEMENT- This normally happens when an individual is promoted to a director’s position within a company, and often as they get ready to retire. This use to tend to happen between the ages of 55 and 60, but it tends to be earlier in many companies today.

9. RETIREMENT- This use to be at 65 but many people now oft for earlier retirement (if the company they work for agrees that is).

Schein outlined the different stages in an individual’s career, and in order to achieve full satisfaction an individual should aim to follow these stages as if work and non work factors do not go in an individual’s favor they may have to go retrace some early career stages e.g. ‘training’ and this may stop them reaches higher stages e.g. ‘late career’, later in life.

J L Holland came up with the Trait Theories which looked at a person’s career type in relation to their personality type (one or more of six, Specified below). He thought that a person’s personality could help (or not help) them to enter certain jobs and help or hinder the achievement of that persons personal career goals.

1. REALISTIC PERSONALITY TYPE- This relates to someone who enjoys been out doors but also has a technical interest.

2. INVESTIGATIVE PERSONALITY TYPE- This relates to someone who has a high intellect and looks for scientific meanings to explain things.

3. ARTISTIC PERSONALITY TYPE- This tends to be a creative person who can express themselves easily using other methods than words. They are normally found in or going into a design environment.

4. SOCIAL PERSONALITY TYPE- This tends to be people based and is related to people who like to work with people often in a care situation.

5. ENTERPRISING PERSONALITY TYPE- This relates to people who are good at influencing and persuading other people. They are often found in management positions. I think this best relates to me.

6. CONVENTIONAL PERSONALITY TYPE- This is normally associated with people that like working with numbers and doing computational activities. They often tend to enjoy working in a structured environment.

It is important to recognize non-work factors as well as work factors which are also important. These non- work factors should be considered when deciding if an individual is suitable for a certain area of work.

Holland outlined the different personality types which could be associated with a person and these are some of the non-work factors that should be considered before offering a person a position in a company. For example, it may not be wise to put someone with an artistic personality into a job in the National Health Service (NHS), which requires people with social personality types.