“13 million people are unemployed in the USA right NOW!” Those were the first words of Dr Rosie Bingham, that made deep impact into my soul at this year’s PDI (Professional Development Institute) put on by the OCDA. This was my first time attending a PDI, and I felt a rush of excitement and nervousness as I heard those words. Just think, 13 million people, who want to work, but cannot find a job! It is her opinion that anyone who wants to work, should be able to work. She told us that this recession has been called “The Great Protection” because “people are so afraid that there is not enough”, so they are not spending their money, and in turn jobs are being cut. Dr. Bingham believes that there is enough though, and I have to say that she made a believer out of me!
Our society is moving from an industrial job market to a Knowledge and Technology job market. This means that as career counselors we have to change our tactical approach to helping people figure out what direction to go in choosing a career path. We will serve our clients well if we remember that all people have certain factors that influence career choices. We all have a biological pre-disposition toward certain things (things we are naturally drawn to or good at). Our gender, our family, our Racial/Ethnic Group and the Dominant/Majority Group in our society all influence us as well. Knowing this will allow us to assess the impact of these factors in how our clients will choose their career. She reminded us that “every person, every job and every career is important” for our society to run well. She left us with three important truths she has learned over this last season of her life. 1. Turn your depression to joy. 2. Turn your anxiety to excitement and 3. Turn your fear to faith. She said that then, and only then, will you be free from worrying about whether there is enough to survive and be able to experience true peace. It has to start in us, because if we don’t believe it then neither will our clients!
How refreshing it was to have some inspiration from Dr. Bingham! To be reminded that career counseling is something that every counselor does, because what people do with their lives and how they spend their time affects every part of who our clients are. She encouraged us toward greatness for the first half of the day, and the second half of the day brought us Christian Kaylor from the Oregon Employment Department. He is this brilliant analyst that is able to make all these boring statistics come to life before your very eyes. Christian’s job is to look at trends and numbers, and help them make sense to the rest of us, who can hardly count, let alone make any sense or see any pattern in statistics. For those of you who are good at this naturally, don’t read any further. For the rest of us, what you need to know is that Oregon was up to 11% unemployment in 2009 and now it is down to 8.6%. This is a good thing! Job growth outside of the Portland Metro Area is almost non-existent. The current trend shows that 1 in 10 jobs are healthcare related, and 1 in 7 jobs are tech related. This trend has lent itself to the fact that most young people are moving into the city or closer to it so they can be close to work. Adults ages 20-39 in Multnomah County has grown by 41,394 people in the last 5 years! This is interesting because the trend has been quite the opposite until recently. For so long, people were moving to the suburbs and commuting to the city to work. Also important is the fact that the median wage in Portland is $17.84 and currently there are approximately 965,000 people working in the Portland Metro area. If you are interested in other facts of this nature, which I think most of you are, then check out his website www.qualityinfo.org. You can get on his newsletter list and he will send out the latest and greatest statistics that could be very helpful for your clients once a month.
All that being said, I definitely recommend going to the Oregon Career Development Association’s annual PDI, you will not be disappointed! You will come away learning something that you did not know before you went, and to me that is the ultimate goal.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Oregon Counseling Association Graduate Programs Chair
There is Enough
I love questions as much as most people love answers. I enjoyed the way the featured presenter at the Oregon Career Development Association's 2012 Spring Professional Development Institute challenged us with big, meaty questions. Dr. Rosie Bingham, the Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Memphis, asked us to reflect on major issues with questions such as “Is it ethical to help individuals select careers for which there is no demand?” and “ What is the role of career counselors in the lives of our wounded warriors, the returning soldiers?”
The most impactful question, in my opinion, came when Dr. Bingham wondered, “What do you find unacceptable?” She shared some of the things that she considers unacceptable (global unemployment, natural disasters that can take people forever to recover from, the unemployment rate of veterans and urban poverty) before directing each of us in the audience to make our own list. After the brief writing exercise, Dr. Bingham wanted to hear what was on our lists and listened as her Oregon colleagues itemized local, national and global problems such as underemployment and unemployment, corporate personhood, healthcare linked to employment, skyrocketing college costs, racial disparity in academic achievement, the burden of student loans, generational poverty and more.
While Bingham spoke passionately about increasing our capacity to live well together in a diverse society and implored us to push hard for change, I accepted her challenge to commit to take a specific step to begin to rectify at least one thing I found unacceptable. I don't expect that my actions will end youth homelessness, but I have already taken steps to better identify unaccompanied minors at my school and serve them with college access support and career planning services. Despite that overwhelmed, not-enough-time-in-the-day feeling I sometimes have, Dr. Bingham inspired me to reach out to a hidden and marginalized population.
Bingham also shared the multicultural career counselor and client checklists she developed, reminding OCDA members that career development takes place in a cultural context. Our clients, she explains, have multiple spheres of influences, including gender, family, race and ethnicity and the dominant majority. As each sphere has factors and variables that shape our clients' career aspirations and choices, we should thoughtfully assess the impact of these influences as we help our clients establish goals.
By ending her presentation with insights from her spiritual life, Bingham revealed how yet another powerful sphere of influence clearly impacts her life and belief system. As she explained her trust in the world's abundance and the power of transformation, our speaker called upon us to enable change for ourselves and our clients. It is possible, she said with conviction, to shift from depression to joy, from anxiety to excitement and from fear to faith by simply remembering that “there is enough.”
Meg Kilmer, GCDF
Lincoln High School