Computer-Based Career Information Systems
The adage "information is power" can certainly be applied to the marriage of career information with computers. In an era that is characterized by a rapidly changing employment and occupational outlook, the ability to access computerized career information has been empowering to both youth and adults (Bloch 1989; Tice and Gill 1991). Defined as "all that people need to know to make choices and take action . . . in relation to their paid or unpaid occupational activities and in relation to their preparation for these activities" (Bloch 1989, p. 120), career information includes knowledge about occupational areas and specific jobs; information about career preparation and where to obtain suitable education and training; facts about employment, including work environments and appropriate job behavior; job-search skills; and self-knowledge such as individual interests, values, and needs. Computers are an ideal medium for delivering career information because they can present current information objectively in an interactive format that is appealing to many clients (Harris-Bowlsbey 1992).
Two classes of computerized systems that provide information for career planning are computer-based career guidance systems (CCGS) and computer-based career information systems (CCIS) (Harris-Bowlsbey 1992; Mariani 1995-96). Although CCIS and CCGS share some common features, they differ in two important ways: CCIS provide local labor market information, whereas CCGS teach career development concepts online (Harris-Bowlsbey 1992). Guidance counselors frequently use CCIS in conjunction with clients, but youth and adults frequently access CCIS independently to obtain career information. This Digest focuses on CCIS. Following an overview of computer-based career information systems, it describes some current applications. Predictions about the future of CCIS are presented in conclusion.
Career Information Systems: An Overview
The best known computer-based career information systems are the state-based career information delivery systems (CIDS). Serving over 9 million customers yearly at more than 20,000 sites, CIDS operate in 48 states and provide information about occupations and educational programs within that state (Mariani 1995-96; National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee 1996). Although CIDS have been developed by a number of different vendors and customized for particular audiences, they share the following core features (ibid.):
Assessment. Most CIDS now have one or more online tools that help users assess their values, interests, skills, aptitudes, or experiences as well as the characteristics they expect from a job. These assessments help users learn about themselves and the qualities they might prefer in a career. A relatively new feature of CIDS, skills assessments have proven especially helpful to experienced workers who need to find a new career.
Occupational Search. The...