According to Aristotle, the ultimate goal in life is happiness, since everything we do we do in an attempt to approach it. According to Aristotelian teleological theory, each person will come closer to his happiness as long as he dedicates his efforts to that for which he is predisposed. This idea was developed centuries later by the physician and humanist Juan Huarte in the 16th century when he proposed that the natural talents of young people be identified in order to direct them towards professions congruent with those talents, with the conviction that that congruence would be a guarantee of greater benefit for them and for society.

But it was not until the beginning of the 20th century, when the importance of making good vocational decisions was socially recognized, with the posthumous publication of Chooosing a Vocation by Frank Parsons (1909) being considered as the foundational milestone of vocational guidance. His own words: “The wise selection of the business, profession, trade, or occupation to which one’s life is to be devoted and the development of full efficiency in the chosen field are matters of the deepest moment to young men and to the public. These vital problems should be solved in a careful, scientific way, with due regard to each person’s aptitudes, abilities, ambitions, resources, and limitations, and the relations of these elements to the conditions of success than if he drifts into an industry for which he is not fitted. An occupation out of harmony with the worker’s aptitudes and capacities means inefficiency, unenthusiastic and perhaps distasteful labor, and low pay; while an occupation in harmony with the nature of the man means enthusiasm, love of work, and high economic values, superior product, efficient service, and good pay” (Parsons, 1909, p. 3).

Nowadays, although person-environment fit remains a key aspect to be considered, vocational choices are not to be made only in the youth, since life is no longer linear and pre-planned, so vocational choices are not permanent. That is why we speak of the permanent construction of the career or career development and career adaptability. However, the first vocational choices that condition the later development of the self and the career are taken in youth.

Our G-Guidance project is a new contribution to help young people on this path.

G-Guidance project is designed to address the need to implement integrated, comprehensive and effective career guidance services and methodologies in educational settings. G-Guidance has three main goals:

(1) create, develop and implement web based, gamified plattform, which will be at the centre of a comprehensive career guidance methodology for middle and high school students, with ages between 13 and 17 years old, that will enhance and broaden the reach of career guidance in schools;

(2) train and support counselors, school psychologists, teachers and parents/caregivers, on different levels and with different roles, on the use of the platform as a tool to actively participate and contribute to youth’s career guidance and vocational and personal development; and

(3) create an open source multimedia database with high quality career/vocational information, presented in the platform through gamified elements and on and offline activities to carry inside and outside school.

We expect that G-Guidance’s gamification approach will make career guidance more appealing, motivating and useful, since it empowers and engages youths in their self and career development and thus with higher chances of causing positive impact in short, medium and long term.

First data

Five countries are implied in the G-Guidance Project with a total sample of 887 participants (48,35% males), aged between 12 and 20 years old (mean = 15.61; sd=2.01). In general terms, in all the countries there is a model, platform, or established approach for career guidance and counseling in an educational context. At the same time, it is usual or necessary to carry out career guidance and counseling activities at school. These activities could include individual and group tutoring, visits to universities or companies, invited university professors or professionals, open and career days, informative meetings, the measure of preferences, aptitudes, and attitudes. To assess this area, the instruments more frequently used are questionnaires and interviews. Teachers and parents are usually involved in guidance but not necessarily. The most used sources of information about careers and professions are webs.

A total of 90.01% of the participants responded that they will continue studying after school, and the majority (95.34%) of them think that they themselves will choose the career. Females give more importance than males of the Guidance activity on career choice. The Internet is the favorite source in order to look for information about career choice. In this sense, Health, Education/training, Engineering, Computer Sciences, Marketing, Design/Architecture, and Arts are the most selected options. The last ones are Agriculture, Customer Services, and Construction. Significant differences were observed on the potential working areas as a function of the Gender. Females are the majority in Health, Education, Administration, Tourism, Arts and males in Computing, Engineering, Safety, and Mechanical, mainly (see table and figure 1). Finally, we explored the profile of each country according to the areas of interest of their participants. Broadly, Grecia, Spain, Portugal and Italy are closer according to the preferred careers (Heath, Education, Computing). On the other hand, in Bulgaria, Health and Education areas are ones of the less preferred, while Computing and Arts are highly valued.

The mains Conclusions of this advanced results are:

(1) Age differences were observed as a function of the Population. More attention should be given in the future on this criterion in the selection of the sample to make comparable the results of the project;

(2) Gender differences were observed as a function of the Population. More attention should be given in the future on this criterion in the selection of the sample to make comparable the results of the project.(3) No differences on who will make decision about the career were observed;

(3) Significant differences about what doing after school were observed as a function of the Population. In Portugal students are more “working oriented”, whereas in Spain they are more “studying oriented”. Probably it depends on the kind of schools involved in the survey, more than on cultural factors;

(4) Significant differences were observed on the evaluation of the importance of the Guidance activity on career choice as a function of the Gender (F>M) and the Population;

(5) Significant differences were observed on the information source as a function of the Gender and the Population;

(6) Significant differences were observed on the potential working areas as a function of the Gender and the Population.

These suggestive data are only part of the data that we will continue to collect in this project in which we are going to build a virtual learning platform with a vocation of public service to European youth.

In the present, it is pretty evident that “Guidance is more essential than ever and will be crucial in recovery measures in a post-Covid context to understand how the labour market has changed, understand the opportunities available and the new skills demanded” (Juerges, 2020).