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Theorising occupational decision making : a longitudinal study of hospitality training in schools

Simpkin, TL 2011 , 'Theorising occupational decision making : a longitudinal study of hospitality training in schools', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The transition from student to worker is one of great significance. Decisions made about occupation can determine future career trajectories and, by extension, access to or denial of societal privilege, occupational status attainment and social identity. Partly in response to this, it is becoming increasingly common for individuals to have exposure to workplaces by undertaking a period of vocational education and training (VET) whilst in the latter stages of secondary school. This research uses such a transitional period to examine occupational decision making of students undertaking a hospitality vocational course in Tasmania, Australia. Globally, the hospitality sector experiences pressing problem of skills and labour shortages and therefore there is a need to investigate the reasons why individuals choose to enter and remain in hospitality occupations.
This thesis links two well-established career decision-making theories to identify a more appropriate means to examine the elongated period of occupational decision making through vocational education and training. This non-traditional approach to occupational decision making is not well reflected in the career literature or by existing models of career decision making. Using a mixed method approach, this longitudinal study examines the occupational decision-making processes of students from different backgrounds. Their stories reveal a holistic picture of the impacts of family influence, socioeconomic background and interests on an initial decision to enter training as preparation for an occupation in hospitality. The longitudinal method allows further investigation of the assessment of that initial occupational decision for suitability during the VET course and into early career.
This research has found that socioeconomic background, parental occupation and interest will narrow the range of occupational choices perceived to be available to individuals as described in Gottfredson‟s (1981) Theory of Circumscription and Compromise. However, it was found that assumptions of individual agency and rational decision making were curtailed by the perception of limited occupational options underpinned by fundamental social structures such as social class and occupational status. Early career decision making was found to depend largely on the relative strength of goals, expectation of outcomes and sense of self-efficacy as described in Lent, Brown and Hackett‟s (1994) Social Cognitive Career Theory. Decisions were not formally rational given the limits of their research into occupations and the limitations to thinking created by social structures. This research also identifies the role of workplace relationships as an explicit and powerful moderator of turnover intention in early hospitality career.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Simpkin, TL
Keywords: hospitality, vocational training, occupational decision making
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