Tussen arbeidsmarkt en individueel welzijn : een historische analyse van de beroepskeuzevoorlichting in Nederland vanuit beroepensociologisch perspektief

H.M. Pere

    Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


    This study is an historical analysis of vocational guidance in the Netherlands between 1910 and 1985. The general premise upon which the study is based is that the effect of the vocational guidance has not been optimal. This is due to the specific way in which professional education has been provided here. To date, research on professional education has been tied to vocational related sociological theories, including: occupation, occupational training, professions and the process of 'professionalization.'

    Vocational guidance in the Netherlands was started around 1910, and was set in motion for three reasons. The first was based on social motives, regarding a concern about the living conditions of the unskilled labourer. As such the function of this career guidance was at level with other forms of social assistance, such as social welfare for the poor and school inspection. The second was borrowed from the anarchistic relationship between supply and demand. In this sense, the inferior function of career guidance moves at the same level as labour exchange, vocational training and the promotion of geographical mobility. The third acts as a connecting element between the two afore-mentioned concepts. The motive is based on an appeal to the duty of the labourer to work well. In this sense vocational guidance functions as a protector of the moral order.

    One therefore finds that the general information given, concerning training and occupation is based primarily on the opinion of the adviser himself toward the above stated aims and goals. Gradually psychologists took on the problem of advising about vocational choice and used psychological research, based on tests, as a fundamental condition for reliable counselling. By about 1950 this method became the dominant instrument of advising.

    In the post-war period the basis for vocational guidance for individual welfare shifted from charitable to public welfare work. Increased prosperity also lay at the root of this change. The significance of vocational guidance for the labour market
    remained; however, after 1975 this was accentuated due to a decline in the economic field. A field of tension then arose between the two meanings.

    The meaning of vocational guidance as a reference to general and/or Christian principles fell into the background after 1960. This was then replaced by a more authentic form of vocational choice, based on selfdetermination by the individual. This change was influenced by the idea of professional counselling, which is infusing vocational guidance. In this new form of professionalism in addition to testing, new methods of initial supervision came into effect, which involved a clientbased approach.

    Regarding the vocational training process between 1910 and 1985 two dominant factors are of primary importance:

    - the dominant concern of the government was to ensure control over the fields of work, which could be included in the domain of the vocational counselling expert. This dominant factor had been visible from the start, but only clearly manifested itself when in 1940 the central authorities themselves began to work with vocational guidance. From that moment on two types of service were provided:

    public vocational guidance, provided by regional employment offices. Here, vocational guidance is guided by the needs of labour supply;private vocational guidance was provided by vocational bureaux. Here the orientation was based on a pedagogical approach in which the orientation was towards the development of the individual client. The dominance of the government can be explained by the subordination of both types of guidance under the same department, viz the Ministerie vanSociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid;- the dominant factor of psychologists and their science, as it related to their professional practice. Regarding this factor, in the period 1925-1950 a process of rationalization took place around the arguments of expertise and efficiency. In the period 1960-1975 in order to maintain the domain of psychologists a revolution took place. Their strength derived from the efficiency and expertise arguments which paved the way for counselling-actions as a source of legitimacy. This dominance spread out into other vocational sectors, like schooltutorship and youth counselling, e.g. vocational guidance counselling.

    The predominance of the psychologists concerning their method of work, can be seen as the main factor behind the unsatisfactory performance of vocational guidance. In their methods of work a strong interest in the development of the client's self-image prevails. This approach may be seen as very unsatisfactory if it does not promote an active influence on the structure and processes that promote or hamper the realization of vocational choice. Within the sphere of the dominant body of knowledge, structural influence, however, is not regarded as comprising part of vocational guidance. Consequently, the effect of this type of vocational assistance is relatively small for the client because without concern for available structures the individual can become frustrated.

    The prevailing concern for self-image carries with it a weaker attention toward the transfer of the requirements of the job market and availability of occupational choice. Complaints about the widening gap between vocational guidance and the work situation derive from this problem.

    These complaints are connected with a change for the worse in the economic situation. Vocational guidance must be set against the background of the mutual relationship between the aims and purposes of individual welfare and the labour situation. This relationship parallels that of training for labour and has not yet been subjected to a close analysis of vocational guidance. One of the two aims and goals has thus been implicitly eliminated by a one sided dominance of the labour market.

    Regarding the professions examined in the thesis the following conclusions can be drawn. Psychologists play a crucial role in the process of professionalization. The taken care for scientific method and vocational performance of the people who actually do the work of counselling has created distortions. Until about 1975 their contributions were still oriented to the two vocational models that were historically at their disposal, that is to say, the client and labour-oriented models. These models functions as a reference framework to fulfill the aims of the profession.

    In the 1975-1985 period there was a noticeable overemphasis on the clientoriented vocational model. Translated into terms of professionalization this implies an underemphasis on professional work itself, e.g. the central authorities as the relevant external sponsor who as supporters dominate the profession. Besides that, a decline in the quality in the rendering of services has been ascertained: the actual quality of results is disproportionate to the complexity of the vocational choice problem. Because the stability of the profession appears to be largely dependent on the provided services of the external dominant sponsor and of the qua lity of the guidance there is a demand for restabilization. The latter factors should be orientated to restore the two vocational models as reference frameworks and to raise the quality of the results. This setting of standards should come, however, from a multi-dimensional consideration of the vocational choice problem. This last point is called 'reprofessionalization' in a wider context.

    Original languageDutch
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Mok, A.L., Promotor, External person
    Award date12 Feb 1986
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Publication statusPublished - 1986


    • career choice
    • history
    • netherlands
    • occupations

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