Future Trends in Vocational Counseling

by Jen L’Insalata

Trends in employment reflect the market demands and growth rate in correlated and respective industries. Service industries have experienced an increased demand for employees over during the later part of the past decade. Data in 2009 showcased a 13% increase in service sector jobs while only a 10% increase was observed in financial and managerial sectors. Understanding and recognizing labor market trends is important to the field of vocational and career counseling as the trends reflect potential opportunity and the theoretical strategies used (VanVoorhis, et. al., 2012).

Global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly shifted the employment space. Many Americans have experienced job loss due to the health and safety quarantine while others have experienced radical changes to the work environment and workflow. Additionally, the reopening of the country leaves a divide between the need to return to work and the apprehension of recurring outbreaks. Many industries have begun to address such shifts, but the uncertainty still remains.

Several contemporary economists have released predictions that showcase significant changes to corporate hiring strategy. Cheremond (2020) predicts that at least “32% of organizations are replacing full time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure”.  This suggests that employees retuning to work may experience reduced vocational security in a post-COVID environment.

Some companies have begun to acknowledge the volatile nature of a contingent based workforce. HR departments have increased the provision of benefit packages to increase sick leave, financial assistance, and adjust working schedules to accommodate childcare provisions. Such companies respond to the potential needs of employees as a tool to recruit top tier employees (Cheremond, 2020) to an unstable market.  

Other trends include the increase of remote work as organizations alter workflow processes. Company hiring practices will include the expectation of new hires to have a degree of comfort with technology and remote work strategies. Additionally, many companies will require their workforce to utilized key skills within multiple roles (Cheremond, 2020). This shifts the emphasis away from hiring specific roles and focuses on hiring employees who can utilize critical skills in multiple roles.

The idea that automation will become an increasing presence in the workplace has been a topic of discussion for some time. Democratic presidential nominee Andrew Yang extensively discussed the growing concern of industry replacing people with automation. Concerns surrounding wages, trade negotiations, spur a discussion surrounding the concept of a universal basic income wile workers adapt to increased education and skills needed.

Many potential employees will consider the way in which an organization responded to the pandemic crisis. Top tier recruits will have a degree of negotiating power as they may have other potential opportunities. On the contrary, individual on the lower socioeconomic scale may have less options and negotiating power. Many will find themselves experience economic hardship and become relocated to accept a position within a company that dehumanizes employees by devaluing safety and employee wellbeing.

As the post-COVID work environment continues to take shape, it is important for vocational and career counselors to remain up to date on various trends within their relevant community or area of service. Theory driven interventions that acknowledges the ‘wholeness’ of the individual, potential environmental factors, life transitions, and motivations will become increasingly important when working with clients (Yates, et. al., 2017).


Cheremond, R.J. (2020). 9 future of work trends post COVID-19. Gartner. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/9-future-of-work-trends-post-covid-19/

VanVoorhis, R. W., Levinson, E. M., Ohler, D. L., & Hohenshil, T. H. (2012). Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Employment Counseling, 49(4), 146–147. https://doi-org.library.capella.edu/10.1002/j.2161-1920.2012.00015.x

Yates, J., Oginni, T., Olway, H., & Petzold, T. (2017). Career conversations in coaching: The contribution that career theory can make to coaching practice. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 10(1), 82‒93. doi:10.1080/17521882.2017.1287209


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