CAREER EXPLORATION, DECISION-MAKING DIFFICULTIES AND INDECISION IN PORTUGUESE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS
In adolescence, individuals are invited to actively engage in the processes of exploration and decision-making, namely in what concerns the career domain. In this context, exploration assumes a central role, enhancing consciousness and knowledge about one’s self in different work roles, as well as the interest in new role-taking, and advancement in decision-making and lifestyle design. In the Portuguese educational system, the end of compulsory education (9th-grade) represents a career turning point, during which adolescents are expected to involve themselves in career exploration and decision-making. Although these processes can be exciting for most young people, there are many who experience anxiety and stress, facing serious difficulties in doing these psychosocial tasks. Thus, this study aims to explore the inter-relationships among styles of career exploration, career decision-making difficulties and the levels of career indecision of Portuguese 9th-graders, and plan career intervention based on this empirical evidence. The sample consists of 272 students in 9th-grade, of which 51.5% are girls (N= 140) and 48.5% boys (N= 132), aged 13 to 18 years (M= 14.42, SD=0.78), attending schools in the northwestern region of Portugal. The performed cluster analysis (K-Means Clustering Analysis) allowed to discriminate four different groups, depending on their career results profile: (a) Informed and Confident, (b) Eager Undecided (c) Undecided and Informed, and (d) Undecided and Little Informed. Implications of the results for differentiated career intervention in Elementary Education are discussed.