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Background to the Study

An individual’s life, including happiness and fulfilment borders on personal view of self and a realistic occupational preference. The statement “an unexamined life is not worth living” attributed to Socrates is much a gem of wisdom today as it was at the time of Socrates. It is therefore important that a person takes his time to systematically review various aspects of his life most especially those aspects that have or will have bearing on his work life, for “work maketh man”.

One’s occupation has a pervasive connection with one’s entire way of life. The choice of occupation therefore reflects not only the public declaration of “this is what I am” but also the result of examination of one’s life. Thus one can say that a prerequisite to competent choice of work is the ability to know and differentiate personal values and personal interests, recognise one’s strengths and weaknesses in verbal, quantitative and psycho-motive areas of operations, and appreciate the relationships of these to each other.

The researcher has observed that people express satisfaction and fulfilment in discharging duties which they are interested in, have the right skills and energy to cope with. On the other hand, people get frustrated in performing jobs they have no skills for, and in jobs, which their environments are adverse to their physical and psychological well-being.

Early theorists assumed that persons develop traits in terms of their interests and abilities and that these traits tend to be both stable over time and susceptible to reliable measurement. They also assumed that an individual would be happiest when the demands and responsibilities of their chosen fields of work were commensurate with their trait profiles (Borrow, 2000). Consequently, a “matching method” arose, in which individuals were helped to understand themselves in relation to opportunities and working conditions in different field of work. The matching method has provided since the early 1900’s a basis for career decision making that is still in use, but it has never adequately accounted for developmental changes in motivation, interests or skills. One of the relatively well-developed viewpoints that takes into account motivation and other developmental factors is that of self-concept.

Donald Super (2001) influenced the idea that developing a sense of self and realise that you change over time is important when planning your career. One of Donald’s Contributions to career development has been his emphasis on the importance if the development of self-concept. According to Donald, self-concept changes overtime, and develops as a result of experience, as such career development is lifelong.

Furthermore, Donald (2001) in his concept theory of vocational development indicated the existence of a strong relationship between vocational development and development of self-concept in adolescents and adults, and that the process of vocational choice is that of developing and implementing of self-concept. According to Holland (1997), we have stereotypic view of the work environment associated with various occupations. He asserts that each of us searches for a work environment that will fit our personality. He identified six broad personality types, which he called personal orientations. Holland proposed a theoretical model that holds that at the time of vocational choice, a person is the product of the interaction of hereditary and culture. From these forces, he develops a hierarchy of orientations for dealing with daily environmental demands. These orientations include such variables as interpersonal skills, values, interests and aptitudes. Associated with orientations are different physical and social environments. In essence, the theory states that vocational choice is a process by which a person searches for those hierarchies of coping orientations. The six broad personality types, which Holland proposed, are realistic, investigative (intellectual), artistic, social, enterprising and conventional with a corresponding work environment that tends to merge nicely with each orientation.

Although Holland’s theory fits in properly in this study, it also provides the structural basis for this work. He provided a workable guide to determining the self-concept as it relates to the world of work. Self-concept, which is an important aspect of personality, may be defined simply as the total collection of attitudes, judgements and values, which an individual holds in respect to his neighbour, his ability, his body, his worth as a person.

The child’s self-concept is formed by means of interaction with others and the child adopts for himself or internalises his need to be thought worthwhile. He sees himself and evaluates himself as others do. The individual develops a self-concept, which comprises all his impressions and beliefs concerning the kind of person he is.

In this study, self-concept is seen as the way adolescents describe themselves in relation to the demands of various occupations. What the adolescents like or dislike concerning various work environment determines their self-concept. Empirical researches seem to indicate that occupational preference is related to the degree to which an occupation is perceived to be consistent with self-concept (Blocher & Schulz 1961, Vroom 1963, Oppenhermer, 1966 etc.). Relationship was found to exist between self-concept and occupational preference (Ibabuo 1990, Ebe, 1990, Madu, 1998, among others) while Achebe 1993, Ezeaku, 1990 among others show little or no significant relationship.

One of the major goals of the new system of education in Nigeria is to develop vocational competencies among youths and adults so that they can contribute maximally to the national economic growth in their various occupational activities. This is the reason for the central emphasis placed on vocational guidance in the new system of education. A person’s career plays an important role in his entire life. If wrongly chosen, it has everlasting consequences on the individual. It becomes imperative therefore to ensure that the individual is helped by a specialist such as a vocational guidance counsellor to ensure that negative influence does not affect the vocational preference or choice of students.


Statement of Problem

The adolescent/student, his self-concept and vocational preference have been a problem over the years especially as it has been discovered by psychologists that self-concept influences vocational preference. According to Natalie (2006) self-concept has been proved to affect occupational maturity, occupation aspirations (Hassan, 2008) and motivation (Meyer, 1995)

Several studies on self-concept and occupational choice relationship generally indicate that self-concept influences occupational choice and that the individual choose occupations that they perceive as congruent with their self-concept. Self-concept assumes, rightly or wrongly, that the individual’s view of the world around him is a right one. He thus carries this and allows it to influence him in his ways of life, which include his vocational preference or choice. This is tied to his idol or role model, which he assumes, is the correct one. For example, he may admire a medical doctor or a pilot whereas he may not possess the physical and intellectual capabilities to be able to cope with those professions. Sometimes too, there comes a time when the adolescent comes to the cross road arising from his self-concept.

The problem of occupational preference or choice is contingent upon certain criteria such as employability, labour, mobility and remuneration. But because of the narrow ideas the adolescent has, he never takes those critical issues into considerations. He assumes as much as his self-concept can carry him that the occupation he chooses is the right one only to regret it at adulthood. Sadly, at this stage, a reversal of the decision already made as an adolescent becomes difficult if not impossible or rather too late to change.

It is necessary to point out the external pressure that the adolescent is exposed to. In particular, the pressure from family and peers may be so strong as to alter radically the individual’s self-concept. To make the right career choice, the problem of self-concept of the adolescent must be solved at early stage. Unfortunately, the solution is not easy to come by partly because of lack of professionals and unwillingness of the individual adolescent to present himself for help.

In view of the foregoing, an appropriate mechanism must be put in place to help the adolescent in his or her self-concept development so that it does not negatively influence his or her vocational preference or choice. This is very important because the adolescent, his self-concept and his vocational preference are closely related and an error at any point distort the whole relationship. The problem that this study examines, put in a question is: Does the adolescent’s self-concept have any relationship with his or her vocational preference in Udu Metropolis of Delta State?

Research Questions

It is the intention of this study to find answers to the following questions:

  1. Into what group does the adolescents in Udu Metropolis falls based on Holland’s Classification of personality?
  2. What are the occupational preference of the adolescents in Udu Metropolis of Warri?
  3. What is the relationship between adolescents’ personality type in Holland’s six model classification and their occupational preference?
  4. Is there a difference in the vocational preference of male and female adolescents in Udu Local Government of Delta State?


The following hypotheses were formulated to be tested in the study:

  1. There is no significant relationship between self-concept and occupational preference of senior secondary school students in Udu
  2. There is no significant relationship in the self-concept of male and female adolescent and their occupational preference.
  3. There is no significant difference in the quality selection of occupation by male and female adolescent.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to measure the relationship between self-concept and vocational preference of male and female senior secondary school students in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. Specifically, the study seeks to find out:

  1. The personality group into which adolescents fall using Holland’s classification scheme.
  2. How the male adolescents differ from the female adolescents in their self-concept.
  3. The occupational preference of adolescents
  4. How male adolescents differ from the female adolescent in vocational preference and
  5. The relationship between adolescents’ personality types and their career preferences

Significance of the Study

Okorie and Ezeji (1990) noted that Most Nigerian youths lack information about themselves, hence they do not make appropriate career choices while attending the secondary school and in most cases, their choices do not coincide with what is available in the world of work. The choice of a vocation is certainly a problem among adolescents. Thus, it should not be assumed that a matured self-evaluation would develop in the adolescent years without assistance. This background thus explains the essence of guidance services in the secondary schools. Such services are intended to translate students’ self-concept into occupational patterns.

This study provides information about self-concept and occupational preference of adolescents. Such information is useful among others, in educational and human resources. Planning as well as in vocational guidance. Self-fulfilment can be achieved when an individual choose an occupation that is congruent with the individual’s self-concept. The information from this research is useful in guiding students occupational decisions through encouragement of favourable attitude; finding self-rating and seek appropriate subject combinations that will enhance the implementation of a person’s self-concept.

In addition to the above, the development of a well-adjusted individual with high productivity index in the work place is a great asset to individuals and the nation alike. Therefore, this research reveals facts that will ease the implementation of self-concepts of adolescents. When everyone is well adjusted through choosing a career that is congruent with his or her self-concepts and perform optimally at the work place, then Nigeria will truly become a great and dynamic economy in no distant time.

Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The study covers the way adolescents perceive themselves and the role their self-concepts play in determining their occupational preference. The constructs of the self-concepts are derived from Holland‘s model of six personality types which are realistic, investigate, social, conventional, enterprising and artistic self-concept each with ten statements; likes and dislikes and six occupational categories each with ten occupations. The study is restricted to the adolescents in Udu Metropolis of Delta State.

Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study, the following significant words and phrases are defined as follows.

Adolescence: It refers to the period between childhood and adulthood. It covers the period from twelve or thirteen to nineteen years of age. This is a period when the individual is neither a child nor an adult.

Adolescent: an adolescent is a boy or girl in between being a child and being a grown up persons. Any boy or girl aged between twelve and nineteen is an adolescent or a teenager.

Youths: Boys and girls of adolescent age

Self-Concept: An individual’s evaluation of himself, with regard to his personality, characteristics, abilities, attributes and values. It refers to the picture or image a person has of himself or herself. This is the sum of what a person has of himself or herself.

Personality: The individual ‘s characteristics and ways of behaving which is their organisation or patterning account of an individual’s unique adjustments to his total environment.

Occupation: It refers to a gainful activity at which people are employed. The terms occupation, vocation, job, work and career are used interchangeably

Vocational Choice and Preference: Here, it is defined as what the individual prefer to do. It is used interchangeably with occupational preference and choice.

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