Since the 1980s in France, we have observed more instability and discontinuities in career paths. In addition to economic reasons, these ruptures increasingly occur when individuals want to regain control over their career by opting for retraining.
Voluntary professional mobility is in fact frequently inspired by dissatisfaction with the meaning of work. Moreover, when employees whose work loses its meaning do not leave their jobs, they experience a significant increase in the number of days of absence due to illness.
This is particularly why, in 2009, France acquired a law relating to the orientation and professional training throughout life. More generally, in mentalities, it appears that career is now up to the individual more than to the organization in which he evolves.
Adaptability, an ability to activate
Since the 2010s, we have thus witnessed a parallel multiplication of actors in the professional support. This help appears essential because individuals today need to cultivate a skill that was not transmitted to them through their schooling or education: that of adaptability, which brings together a set of psychosocial resources that allow the individual to bounce back in the face of unforeseen or complex situations.
The latter can then mobilize a strong conscience which leads him to concern himself with what interests him most, he implements strategies to know his needs and reveal his deep aspirations, he resorts to external help to identify resources, collect information, confront various scenarios of one's future and cultivate a feeling of preference between these scenarios. He also has the ability to mobilize himself entirely in the concrete realization of what will serve his balance and ensure a harmonious exchange with his environment.
All these capacities must be mobilized each time the person is faced with a choice to make, a solution to find to preserve their well-being by giving themselves the means to meet their aspirations.
Through our research, we have been able to establish that this ability is malleable in adults. In other words, even when it was not stimulated by the sociocultural context during the years of youth, it can still be activated in adults thanks to well-calibrated interventions. We notably carried out an impact study (to be published in the journal Human and Organization) of a training program designed and offered by the structure specializing in professional support Primaveras (of which the author of this article is co-founder and educational director). This training is designed according to the principles of learning experiential. It is offered in the form of face-to-face workshops and training sessions.accompagnement individually. The exercises and actions are oriented towards gaining autonomy and developing the participants' power to act.
Participants who undertake this program generally do so during a nebulous transition in their professional life. They often have higher education qualifications and the majority of them have several years of professional experience. The age in the study population ranged from 27 to 59 years with a mean age of 42 years. Participants often come from linear career paths that have led them to exercise roles of responsibility, management or intellectual production. At the time of the study, 30% of them were unemployed. The others had full-time positions.
To evaluate the impact of the participants' program, we used the “Career Adapt-Abilities Scale” questionnaire which measures career adaptability based on four independent dimensions: awareness of the importance of caring about one's career path, feeling of control over one's choices, curiosity to explore what is possible, and confidence in one's ability to solve new situations. Each dimension brings together 6 items in the form of 5-point scales. For each item, the participant evaluates with what strength the dimension in question is present in him, ranging from 1, “the aptitude is not a strength”, to 5 “it is the strongest aptitude”.
Over a period of two years, during which the training took place, the questionnaire was submitted to around a hundred individuals three times, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the training program. The conclusion of the analysis is clear: the participants generally perceive a clear increase in their level of concern about their future, an increase in their feeling of control over what can happen to them, better ease in imagining themselves in professional contexts. and varied lives and to seek and integrate new information about their environment or possible developments in their situation.
Participants also perceive increased confidence in their ability to bounce back, cope with hazards and solve new problems. This improvement in their level of awareness, control, curiosity and confidence is noted from the middle of the program and strengthens until its end.
Several questions remain open
This work therefore made it possible to make objective empirical findings and spontaneous testimonies from program participants. Most often, these findings are documented to enable monitoring of the development of learners' skills. Many of them then become aware of their own learning throughout the program thanks to this monitoring.
The fact remains that, from a scientific point of view, many questions remain open and allow for further careful investigation. Among them, the question of the sustainability of learning. Because there too, there are many testimonies on the permanence of the activation of the adaptability of former learners. A quantitative study would provide the scientific demonstration of this finding.
Another interesting question from a knowledge point of view is the study of the precise impact of the program components on each of the skills. This knowledge will provide all stakeholders in this field with better visibility on the conditions for effectiveness of an intervention to support professional choices.
Finally, we also see a very ambitious perspective in this first work which lies in the elucidation of the conditions for activating adaptability. This subject is much broader and would deserve to be pursued by launching the study of various support formats with principles that would result from this first study. Indeed, among the hypotheses that should be studied is mainly the one which states that the educational relationship has a strong impact on the activation of skills. We also see a second hypothesis to be verified: that of the relevance of the choice of experiential pedagogy as a mode of support. These two hypotheses will be the subject of separate studies to isolate their effects.