The levels of career maturity amongst final year undergraduate students, within a department, at a higher education institution, in the Western Cape
Tertiary education is becoming increasingly costly for many students. According to Pieterse (2005), young people can barely afford to make mistakes in their career decisions, as this could cost them too much in time and money. According to Coertse and Schepers (2004), one of the most important decisions adolescents will ever face is choosing what career to pursue. Coertse and Schepers (2004) propose that an adolescent’s career has significant consequences on their identity, values and aspirations. The most efficient way to develop young persons’ abilities, and assist them in realising their true potential, is through the educational and vocational training offered in schools (Lens, Herrera & Lacante, 2004). Many students do not receive proper career guidance at secondary schooling and they find themselves in their final year graduating, and unsure in terms of the career they are going to pursue. Hence, there exists a great need in the South African context for career guidance and for additional research in the levels of career maturity amongst final year undergraduate students. Career maturity has important implications for career development and decision-making practices (Schreuder & Coetzee, 2014). The term career maturity represents a readiness to engage in and the ability to master certain career developmental tasks appropriate to the age and level of an individual (Langley, Du Toit & Herbst, 1996). In previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa, career and educational planning was characterised by under- development, marginalisation, and under-resourcing (Pieterse, 2005). This could negatively impact students’ motivation towards, and perspectives of, their future careers. The present study aimed to assess the career maturity levels among final year students at a tertiary institution. Specifically, how students’ age, gender, stated certainty of career and type of secondary school influenced their career maturity levels. The sample group (N=149) consisted of final year undergraduate students, who were conveniently drawn to voluntarily partake in the research. Participants completed a biographical questionnaire as well as the Career Development Questionnaire (CDQ). Anonymity was ensured and the students were informed that all the information would be treated with strict confidentiality and used only for the stated research purposes. Statistical analyses involved descriptive and inferential statistics (Pearson correlation, T-test and Analysis of variance). The results indicated no significant relationship between the age, stated certainty of career, type of secondary school students attended and their career maturity. However, a significant relationship was found between gender and career maturity.