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Background of the Study

In our society today, students face a complex and rapidly changing society. It has been reported that regardless of great effort put forth by families, government agencies and non-government agencies, many young people encounter difficulties in the transition from the world of school to that of work (Atchoarena cited in Pilot & Regis, 2012). Investigating and better understanding the myriad factors that contribute to career choice is a topic of recurring interest in our schools today. To guide students in their career decision making, socio-demographic factors play a central role in this lifelong process (Pilot & Regis, 2012). These factors include family, school, career guidance program, media and peers. In this study, the influence of family will only be investigated.

Family involvement was found to be the most significant predictor of career choice in gender dominated occupations (Salami, 2006). Family involvement refers to the extent to which the parents or family members are involved in the career plans of children (Salami, 2006). According to Kniveton (2004), the family can provide information and guidance directly or indirectly, to influence a young person’s career choice. For example, parents offer appropriate support for certain occupational choices which tend to follow their own (Small & McClean, 2002). Family involvement also includes the extent to which parents give encouragement, responsiveness, approval and financial support in matters concerned with the career plans of their children (Salami, 2006). Families treat boys and girls differently. Boys are shaped


and groomed into stereotypic masculine careers and are given more status in the family (Grant, 2004). However, Carter and Wojtkiewicz (2000) argue that female students receive more attention from parents than male offsprings. They attribute the parents’ behaviour to the current emphasis on educational attainment for females. Students identify parents as the strongest influence on career and course decisions (Barnett, 2007). Teachers or counselors cannot replace the influence parents have on their sons’ and daughters’ career plans. Research shows that parents and caregivers influence student’s career choices (Muthu- krishna and Sokoya, 2008) with the mother being the most influential person the adolescent talks to concerning career choice (Otto, 2000). Mothers were cited as particularly influential because they provided support that eased the children’s apprehensions about careers (Hairston, 2000).

In South Africa, Ngesi (2003) notes that poor financial base of students from disadvantaged communities deter choices of appropriate educational programmes and careers. Such students tend to avoid careers which appear to them to require long period of training their finance cannot support (Ngesi, 2003). This suggests that students from lower socio-economic families are not given adequate space to make independent decisions on their careers. For instance, a study by Salami (2006) shows that the higher the attitude towards religion, socio-economic status, achievement motivation and family involvement, the more the female students tended to choose gender dominated careers like nursing and engineering. Most of the females who chose engineering were from high socio-economic status homes while feminine stereotyped occupations were chosen by females from lower socio-economic status homes (Salami, 2006). The trend suggests that parents in higher socio-economic status homes have more opportunity structures like financial and


material resources, wider information and horizons about occupations (Salami, 2006).

It is a well know fact that in our society today, parents are the ones that nurture, raise, promote and support the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and career development needs of the students. They serve as significant interpreters for children of information about the world and children’s abilities (Pitol & Regis 2012). The students on their part tend to seek help from parents to learn to interpret reality. The reliance invariably gives parents undeniable opportunities to make impact on the development of their children’s future, aspirations and career choices. Sad enough, the researcher observed that parents due to some personal considerations fail to play this vital role well. This is because they shift focus from the child’s interest and abilities to some personal factors peculiar to them in reaching decisions. This situation becomes a problem when the parental views differ remarkably from the career intentions of their children. When this happens, it might result to career choice conflict.

According to (Ngesi, 2003) Conflict is a part of all nature and systems including the parents and the adolescents in relation to their choice of career. Career choice conflict between parents and students from the researcher’s view point occur when there is a disagreement between parents and their child over the career the child should pursue. This is experienced when the freedom to make a choice of a career by young people is not always allowed by their parents. It also arises when a parent pressures a child toward a particular career just for the purpose of ensuring that the child pursues his/her career intentions. Otto (2000) observed that parents’ reasons for enforcing their own career goals on the students is because they believe they know more than the students and the career they select for their


children will be most likely the best for them. In addition, parents in their selfish pride regard certain careers as more prestigious than others and would want to be seen as parents whose child is in that career. Often times, parents who owned and established a successful career/business in a specialized field like medicine law, pharmacy, etc would want their children to follow that same career so that they can pass it on to them even when their children may not have the aptitude for such careers (Grant, 2004). For instance, the researcher has witnessed a scenario in one of the placement services conducted for JSS 3 students going into SSI where a parent who was a pharmacist insisted that his ward must study pharmacy and take over from him. Even though his ward indicated that he has no such ability and did not express an interest or intention to become one, his father wants him to become a pharmacist. There are also instances where parents who could not achieve a certain career during their lifetime would try to pass their failed ambition to their children and would make it mandatory for the students to attain that career they did not attain. There are other occasions where parents fear that the careers chosen by the students are not realistic and may not give them a secured future. This happens when a child decides to become an entertainer, comedian, musician, artist, dancer, modeler, actor/actress, footballer etc and feels that schooling is no longer relevant to him/her. In such instances, any plan by the parents to get him to focus on his studies would be construed by him as being obstacles to his future. Because most parents feel that those career paths are not real and sustainable careers, they would want to persuade the students not to follow such career paths by engaging in career conflict with the child. The researcher has witnessed a case where a student was disowned by his parents because he wants to be a musician as against a lawyer which was


intended by his parents and this is usually the problem or situation when there are two divergent views on the career choice of an individual.

From the researcher’s observation, parents’ ability to influence the students towards a career path or engage in a career choice conflict with their children may be related to the parents’ socio-economic and demographic factors. For instance, some parents use their age advantage to dictate choices for their children and by virtue of their age make their children to suppress what they want. When the children perceive that their parents are using their age influence to make persuasive statements, convictions or threats about a particular career expectation preferred by them, they engage in conflict with their parents. Again when parents build and design a future for a child based on their dreams and not on the child’s talent and pressures him/her to pursue a quality, level, or type of education that will not give him/her fulfillment in life in his/her intended career, it leads to conflict. Sometimes when parents only want a career that will protect their social class and image in the society, it makes them to engage in conflict with their children. For instance when parents only consider their status which is at stake if they allow their children to take to another profession without due recognition of the their children’s interest, abilities, performances and preferences, the young persons may object to the parent’s career plan and refuse to accept the choice made and this action will result to conflict.

In this study the researcher is investigating the extent to which socio-demographic factors of the parents influence career choice conflict of the students. Socio-demographic factors could include marital status, educational status, religious status, socio-economic status, age etc. For this study; the researcher limited the socio-demographic factors of parents to age, educational type, educational


qualification and socio-economic status of the parents. These variables are explained below according to the researcher’s observation as follows;

Age of the parents is the chronological number of the parents; how does the chronological number (age) of the parents determine career choice conflict between the parents and the children? Is it possible that parents who are more advanced in age (for example between 50-60) would engage in less career choice conflict with their children than parents who are less advanced in age? Does the age of the parent have any influence on the tendency to engage in career choice conflict with their children?

Another socio-demographic factor which is also the focus of this study is parent’s educational qualification. What educational qualification did the parent stop at? Educational qualification could include primary, secondary, diploma, tertiary, post-graduate diploma, masters or Ph.D. It is possible that parents who are more educated would have more career choice conflict with their children because they believe they know better and so whatever the child chooses that is not agreeable to what they have may lead them to engage in career choice conflict with their children while parents who have lower level of education may not know so much about career and so may agree to whatever the child decides to adopt as his/her career, and this will be acceptable to the parents. Research evidence advances the notion that parents’ educational background moderate children’s educational decisions (Borchert 2002; Huang 2008). Judge and Livingston (2008) pointed out that highly educated parents may discuss social equality more openly with their children, hence sharing more egalitarian perspectives on gender roles more openly. Remarkable gender differences were found in the levels of education of all participants in the study sample. More female than male students had both parents with post


secondary education and only mother with post secondary education. This suggests that female students benefited more from the mother’s post secondary education than males. This corroborates several studies (Edjah et al. 2007; Esters and Bowen 2005; Falaye and Adams 2008) that suggest that the level of education of the mother is the major contributor to the daughter’s career choice. Despite this assertion, one cannot evidently say this is so, that is what this study is set to investigate. Would the parents’ level of education influence the tendency of the parents to engage in career choice conflict with their child?

Parents’ educational type is the type of educational system the parent attended. This may include, primary, secondary, university, polytechnic, college of education, monotechnics, professional schools like school of aviation, school of maritime studies, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), nomadic education, adult literacy programme etc. The parents’ educational type may have the capacity to determine the career path the child would tow and it may also determine if the parent would engage in career choice conflict with the child or not. This is what the researcher intends to find out in this study.

Socio-economic status entails the economic standing of the parents in the society (Salami, 2006). There are three levels of socio-economic status which are: high socio-economic status; these are the ones who are in the upper echelons of the society, middle socio-economic status are those who are in the middle ranks of the society while low economics status are those who are in the lower echelons of the society. Socio-economic index is an index that is used to measure one’s economic standing in the society and the major indicators that will be used to estimate parents socio-economic status in this study include housing type, electronics possessed, cooking facilities and mobility possessed by parents.


From the researcher’s observations, it is the wish of every parent to see his/her child succeed and become established in life. No parent actually sets out to do his or her child harm. Even when parents have selfish reasons why they want their child to undertake a particular choice of career, underneath those selfish reasons is still a heart that loves the child and truly wants the child to succeed. Yet children on the other hand are the ones who would be going into that career. They are the ones who are going to do the reading and make all necessary sacrifices required to excel in that career. They are the ones who know their ability and their interests; they are the ones who know what they can excel at and what they cannot excel at. These two conflicting circumstances have become the problem which has captured the researcher’s interest. The extent to which this conflict will occur may be determined by the parent socio-demographic factors such as parents age, educational qualification, type of education and socio-economic status of the parents. The extent to which these socio-demographic factors determine career choice conflict of parents and senior school students in (FCT) Abuja is what this study seeks to investigate.

Statement of the Problem

The problem of career choice conflict between students and their parents is becoming an issue of concern crying out for solution. It is an act which seems to put students in senior secondary schools in a state of dilemma of leaving their career aspirations and yielding to the career preferred by their parents. This situation arises when parents’ views differ remarkably from the career intensions of the students. When this situation happens, the result is conflict. This problem is traceable to the fact that most parents no longer play the supportive and complementary role of congruent assistance to the students in the career decision making. Rather they


insist on a particular career for the students based on their age, educational qualifications, type of education and socio economic status. This accounts for the many Cases of dropout of senior secondary school students who have reluctantly left their career aspirations due to pressure firm their parents. As a result, the children go in to study courses to please their parents even when they do not have the necessary skills or abilities to excel in them. However, there are also students who vehemently resist this attempt by their parents to deny them of their freedom to make appropriate career decisions or choice. Hence, they reject the career chosen by their parents on the ground that such decisions are not to their best interest. But these are just a minority compared to the enormous number of students who drop out of school because their career aspirations have been disfigured or marred by their parents’ choice for them.

If this problem is not addressed, the students may not be able to exercise the freedom the career path to pursue without undue interference from their parents. It may lead to confusion, discouragement, dissatisfaction, frustration and refusal to practice the forced. It may also destroy potential gifts, hinder creativity and career fulfillment for the affected students. Therefore, the problem of this study put in question form is; what are the parents’ socio-demographic factors that act as determinants of students’ career choice conflict in Abuja FCT?

Purpose of the Study

Purpose of this is to investigate the extent to which parents’ socio-demographic factors such as age, educational qualification, type of education and socio-economic status influence career choice conflict of senior secondary school students in Abuja, FCT.


Specifically, the study sought to:

1.           Determine the extent to which age range of parents influence students’ career choice conflict.

2.           Determine the extent to which educational qualification of parents influence students’ career choice conflict.

3.           Establish the extent to which parents’ type of education influence students’ career choice conflict.

4.           Ascertain the extent to which socio-economic status of parents influence students’ career choice conflict.

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study have both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the findings of the study support Donald Super’s theory of career choice and conflict theory. These are the two major theories upon which this study in hinged on.

Practically, the findings of this study are of immense benefit to the following group of persons; school career counselor, parents, students, ministry of education and further researchers. For the school career counselor, the findings will sensitize them to organize career workshops, seminars, and conferences for both parents and their senior school children to create awareness among them about career, their roles and ways of minimizing conflict in the choice of career. Additionally, information from this study can help the career counselor to be mindful of parental factors as a vocational problem that should be put to check in making a career choice. It will also sensitize the counselors to conduct placement services at the senior school level


carefully and properly to avoid any anticipated conflict from both students and parents.

The findings of the study provide information for parents. Such information will help them to endeavour to find out where the interest, aptitude, abilities potentials and values of their children lie before suggesting career options for them. The outcome of this study will assist students in a special way to develop self-knowledge of their career goals and how to make the right choice of career in life.

The findings of the study also provide information that will guide students to seek for proper career education on how to make right career choices and plans.

It is expected that the findings of this study will sensitize the Ministry of Education to develop a broader and more valid vocational inventories in line with the new curriculum (9:3:4) which will cover the career aspirations of students and their parents and translate into successful vocational out comes that will minimize conflict

Finally, it is hoped that this study will add to the existing body of educational research literature, which might be harnessed for further research in this and other related fields.

Scope of the Study

This work is concerned with the study of parent’s socio-demographic factors as a determinant of career choice conflict among senior secondary school students in Abuja, (FCT). The level of the students for the study is SSI students. The student population for the study was also limited to Abuja because it is the area of the researcher’s interest.


The socio-demographic variables in the study include, the age, educational qualification, type of education and socio-economic status of parents. The socio-economic indicators for measuring socio-economic status in this study are type of housing, electronic possessed, cooking facilities and mobility possessed by parents.

Research Questions

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