Rebranding counselling as career guidance

National 3 minutes, 21 seconds


UNEMPLOYMENT and finding the right person for the job is more than just filling in a vacant post but ensuring that the individual is willing to put in good work to get and retain their job.

The Local Employment and Workforce Development Agency (APTK) has been actively making strides to help unemployed locals and those who are actively seeking to progress their career within the private sector, but it has proven to be a difficult task, with many failing to see the benefits of counseling to help them progress forward, as revealed by an officer from the APTK.

The APTK has received several hundreds of applications since its inauguration, however, a report from the agency earlier this year that revealed only 28.3 per cent of their 2,404 job vacancies were filled.

As of April 2014, the APTK has received 867 applications from those seeking employment – 412 from Brunei-Muara District, 194 from Tutong District, 132 from Temburong, and 129 from Belait District.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, the APTK’s Head of Counselling Unit, Qairawani Hj Yacob, said that the issue falls not only on the part of the jobseeker but several various factors.

“We are trying to provide equal opportunities for people in terms of career development,” said Qairawani who explained that misconceptions regarding the market are still imminent with both employers and job-seekers.

She explains that they have received their share of jobseekers and individuals they have assisted to find employment who have faced shortcomings in their line of work including disciplinary action, and absenteeism.

When employees have issues, she added, many fail to realise the importance of counseling and how it would enrich both their personal and professional lives.

“They probably do not see their issues as a problem. They do not realise that they have issues at work and that sometimes they may be bringing issues from the home into work and vice versa. It declines their performance and sometimes they fail to see that,” said Qairawani.

She added who said that people fail to associate such behaviour with the consequences of not having a job.

Transport problems and family responsibilities are the common reasons she hears from employees that has been referred to her unit.

“They usually come up with personal problems when in actual fact, demotivation could play a part in it. Most of them have no goals, so we try to find out what their goals are and what they are working towards. We try to reach options on and we try to do what we can to enhance their goals including what they could do at work and what they could do to motivate themselves.”

She pinpoints demotivation as a key factor in the ability to retain employment and unemployment as observed by the APTK whereby their schemes that involves handsome monetary incentives still receives dropouts.

Their Training and Employment Scheme (SLP) provides employees with training and increasing financial benefits if they continue to work up to a maximum period of two years, however, quite a number has discontinued before the end of the two-year period.

“It is as though they do not care about the incentives and some employees do not care that their salary gets deducted as a result of their actions. It is a problem whereby it seems as though there are people who want to remain stagnant and do not try to improve themselves,” she added.

The APTK offers voluntary counseling but the unit head said that they have been receiving referrals from companies as of late which includes absenteeism and people not turning up for job interviews. She suggested that it may have to do with the negative connotation linked with the word ‘counselling’.

“We are trying to rebrand into ‘career guidance’ to make it less frightening for people,” explained Qairawani in trying to get more individuals to join in their sessions.

“We are only trying to help people and help them find their way. Our unit is here to help people and instill confidence to anyone who seeks our help”.

The Brunei Times