Through the eyes of children: Exploring Grade 7 career aspirations

Lucy Robinson, Boitumelo Diale


Background: The shift in recent years towards the lifespan concept of career development, which views career behaviour as occurring in stages beginning in childhood and continuing throughout life, has meant that it has become increasingly important to assist learners in fulfilling their career goals. There is, however, a scarcity of research on the career aspirations of primary school learners, especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Aim: This article describes research conducted on the career aspirations of Grade 7 learners at a community school.

Setting: The study is set within an interpretivist paradigm and utilises a generic qualitative research design.

Methods: The study involved a purposefully selected group of Grade 7 learners from a local community school. As part of the study, each learner completed a collage and sociogram, and took part in a group interview.

Results: Themes that emerged from the data analysis were: career aspirations that seek to fulfil hopes and dreams, the role of the family in shaping career aspirations and counting the ‘cost’ of career aspirations.

Conclusion: The results of the study indicated that there is a need to explore learners’ career aspirations from an early age in order to expose them to various career choices in the constantly changing world of work.


career development; career aspirations; lifespan developmental approach; adolescent development; community school; career circumscription and compromise

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Submitted: 07 October 2016
Published: 22 August 2017

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South African Journal of Childhood Education    |    ISSN: 2223-7674 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2223-7682 (ONLINE)