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Review: National Survey on Working America

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) recently commissioned a survey to "assess the perceptions of today's workforce on the effectiveness of career counselors, the need for expanded workforce training opportunities and hardships implicit in selecting, changing or getting a job in the current economic climate." This is a lot of ground to cover, but several issues emerged that may be helpful to online students who are currently making career decisions, seeking employment, or anticipating a job search in the near future.

This National Survey on Working America polled 1,000 adults across the United States earlier this year. Of those participating in the project, 602 were considered to be in the labor force at the time of the poll.

Career Choice Influences

What influences your career choice? Developing a career plan can help you sort through the many possible factors, such as your skills and abilities, interests and personality type, life roles, and culture, as well as current economic conditions.The NCDA survey participants reported on the factors that influenced their career planning decisions.

  • Only 37% of adults had a career plan, which they followed in finding their current job or career.
  • 28% of participants were influenced by friends, family, and school factors when seeking information and making choices about jobs.
  • 28% accepted whatever positions were available or interesting at the time they were searching for jobs.

Access to Career Information

Many of the adults surveyed expressed some regret related to information access prior to making decisions about their previous jobs.

  • 59%, if they had it to do again, would seek out more information than they did in the past about: job vacancies and descriptions, how their skills match with careers, and education and training requirements of different careers.
  • 45% of adults think that additional training or education will be necessary "to maintain or increase their earning power during the next few years."

Information about jobs and careers is widely available in a variety of formats and locations.

  • 57% of adults say they are likely to look for resources and assistance available on the Internet for career planning and job search purposes.
  • 70% also look to friends, family and work associates for information about career decisions and job options.
  • The study also found that employers are providing more information and assistance related to career development and preparation than they did a decade ago. Examples of this assistance include professional development activities, job training, and retirement planning.

Perceived Value of Career Counseling

With previous posts to this blog I have encouraged you to work with career services professionals throughout the career planning and job search process. These trained facilitators can assist with issues related to gathering resources, considering career options, and transitioning into the workforce. But what did the survey respondents say about career counseling?

  • 61% of those surveyed are interested in getting assistance from a career counselor.
  • 24% of adults reported having visited a career services professional about career choice issues.
  • 86% of adults who sought professional career assistance found these services to be helpful.

Impact of Globalization on Careers

The world of work is changing, often requiring new skills, knowledge, and awareness of global issues. The NCDA survey participants weighed in with their thoughts about the impact of these changes on the U.S. economy and workforce.

  • 77% think that globalization factors have required U.S. workers to acquire new skills.
  • 59% of respondents who had completed college degrees think that globalization factors have actually created new jobs. 


The NCDA sees career readiness as a major goal for the U.S. workforce that needs to be addressed at many levels, including federal grants and programs. Career readiness includes specific knowledge and skills you can develop now, while you are a student, to help you prepare for the future. Look for opportunities to enhance your knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • career decision-making 
  • matching your strengths and interests to available career options.
  • understanding what career opportunities are available
  • understanding what training and education opportunities are available and how they relate to specific careers, and 
  • locating and taking advantage of available career, training, and education opportunities.

The resources and assistance you need are available. Take the initial step to make contact with your school's career center, your state's workforce centers, and your current employer if you have one. Ask about services provided and use the available resources and advice available to inform your career planning efforts.