This paper emanates from a research project, the aim is to analyse career development of young unemployed adults. The study is based on interviews with 52 women and men, 25-29 of age, from three Swedish municipalities with highly varying socioeconomic conditions. The paper focuses these individuals´ encounters with career guidance services in different public institutions.
Encounters with public institutions in career matters tend to be awkward in the eyes of unemployed. Both obstructive and supportive aspects of these meetings are expressed, but negative comments on perceived insensitivity to the individuals´ needs dominate. Hence guidance is regarded irrelevant as reinforcement of ones career development. However it is also concluded from the narratives that when the individual faces structural turning point, e.g. school to work-transitions and business closure, career counsellors may (re-) formulate available options.
The respondents use avoidance strategies to reach their goals, and generally meet career counsellors´ intervention with pretended agreement. The power imbalance is important: The young adults don’t trust anyone showing indifference in a relationship where they are subordinate, and take an attitude of “I manage myself”.
Differences between subgroups are identified: Unemployed with university degrees believe that those with a shorter education receive more support, and vice versa. Respondents from the three local contexts have partly different stories, related to different possibilities at upper-secondary level, and varying measures concerning unemployed people. Furthermore, individuals of non-Swedish origin receive more straightforward advice and are directed to careers which require less expertise. Finally, certain gender-specific strategies towards career guidance are noticeable.
International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG) International Conference, Padova, Italy, September, 2007