An examination of the role of values in working-class students' career decision-making

P. Greenbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The literature suggests that members of the working class value informal (‘hot’) information rather than formal (‘cold’) information. They are also said to lack a future orientation; have a fatalistic (and pessimistic) attitude to life; and have low aspirations. These values should influence the way students from working‐class backgrounds approach career decision‐making. Thirty in‐depth interviews with full‐time undergraduates in their final year of study were carried out to find out if this was the case. The research found that students from working‐class backgrounds did not possess many of the values indicated in the literature. They did, however, show a reluctance to make use of formal sources of information from places like the university careers service. Their failure to utilise such sources appears to be a key factor contributing to significant gaps in the students' knowledge and understanding of the graduate labour market. It also means they are inadequately prepared for making the transition into graduate employment. The article concludes by suggesting that the provision of better careers information is not enough. There is a need to make university careers services more welcoming so that they become a source of ‘hot’ information. The article also suggests that students should be encouraged to reflect critically on how they undertake career decision‐making and planning. By getting students to engage in activities that challenge their taken‐for‐granted assumptions and biases, they are more likely to develop alternative approaches to career decision‐making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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