A Systematic Review of Factors That Influence Youths Career Choice

Successful career planning leads to a fulfilled life, although cultural heritage might clash with young people’s interests. To identify knowledge gaps and offer guidance for future study, this systematic review analyzed the available literature on variables that impact young people’s professional choices in both collectivist and individualistic cultural contexts from throughout the world. The Joana Briggs Institute framework was used in a systematic review technique that was carried out. For publications published between January 1997 and May 2018, searches were conducted in the ERIC, PsychInfo, Scopus, and Informit Platform databases. The study included a total of 30 publications. The results showed that children from collectivist cultures were most impacted by family expectations, with stronger professional congruence with parents increasing career confidence and self-efficacy. In individualistic environments, personal desire was emphasized as the main element influencing employment choice, and the young showed more independence in this regard. Bicultural kids who were better assimilated into their host nations showed more intrinsic motivation when choosing their careers. In particular, for the professional prospects of bicultural kids and their capacity to utilize the resources available in their new contexts to reach meaningful future career objectives, more study is necessary to assist in the understanding of parental impact and diversity.

Because it has been linked to both beneficial and detrimental psychological, physical, and socioeconomic differences that last far into adulthood, career choice is a crucial problem in the development of young people (Robertson, 2014; Bubi and Ivanievi, 2016). According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the word “youth” refers to young people who are in the process of moving from dependency on infancy to adult independence and knowledge of their connection as members of society.

Choosing a profession becomes more difficult as you get older (Gati and Saka, 2001). Younger kids are more likely to respond to questions about their dream job, which might symbolize their imagined paradise and extraordinary notions of what they want to accomplish when they grow up (Howard and Walsh, 2011). With maturity, children are increasingly likely to characterize their employment decision as a dynamic interaction between their developmental stages and the current contextual conditions (Howard and Walsh, 2011). Youth career decision-making must include a process of comprehension that includes determining what they want to accomplish and investigating a range of career alternatives with the help of planning and direction (Profile and Lee, 2012). A well-managed process produces stability, well-being, work satisfaction, and affirmation of one’s identity (Kunnen, 2013).


The Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) by Lent et al. is one of several theoretical frameworks put out to describe the process of career growth and decision-making (1994). A person’s educational and career trajectories are influenced by three social cognitive processes, the SCCT states self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and career goals and intentions. These processes interact with factors such as ethnicity, culture, gender, socioeconomic status, social support, and any perceived barriers (Lent et al., 2000; Blanco, 2011). This highlights the intricate interaction between young people’s personal goals and the outside forces that have an impact on their career choices and decision-making. Carpenter and Foster (1977) proposed that the foundation of how people conceptualize their job objectives is formed by the previous events and influences to which they are exposed (Carpenter and Foster, 1977). The claim made by these writers adds credence to the principles of SCCT, and they have created a three-dimensional framework to categorize the variables that affect professional choice. Carpenter and Foster suggested that all variables affecting a person’s career come from either interpersonal, extrinsic, or intrinsic dimensions. They described the intrinsic dimension as a collection of interests about a line of work and its social obligations. While the interpersonal component is linked to the influence of others like family, friends, and professors, extrinsic relatesrelate to the need for social validation and security (Carpenter and Foster, 1977).

Other researchers’ further investigation suggests that young people who are intrinsically motivated are motivated by their interests in certain professions and by personally fulfilling jobs (Gokuladas, 2010; Kunnen, 2013). Intrinsic elements, which include personality qualities, work satisfaction, career progress, and learning experiences, are therefore related to choices made by an individual, and the subsequent actions are motivated by interest, enjoyment, curiosity, or pleasure (Ryan and Deci, 2000; Kunnen, 2013; Nyamwange, 2016). External rules and the advantages of certain professions are examples of extrinsic influences (Shoffner et al., 2015). Prestigious vocations, availability of opportunities, and well-paying work have also been documented to inspire teenage career decision-making (Ryan and Deci, 2000). (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Therefore, youngsters who are intrinsically driven may decide on a career based on the ancillary advantages of that field, such as money, employment stability, accessibility to jobs, and satisfaction (Ryan and Deci, 2000; Edwards and Quinter, 2011; Bakar et al., 2014). The impact of family members, instructors or other educators, peers, and social obligations are only a few examples of the interpersonal elements that cover the actions of socialization agents in a person’s life (Gokuladas, 2010; Bossman, 2014; Wu et al., 2015). According to Beynon et al., Chinese-Canadian students prioritized choosing a vocation that would uphold their family’s honor (Beynon et al., 1998). Students who are affected by interpersonal variables strongly appreciate the advice of family members and close friends; as a result, they consult with and rely on these individuals and are prepared to put aside their interests to get what they think is best (Guan et al., 2015).

Studies have demonstrated that cultural values affect the elements that determine the job choices of teenagers (Mau, 2000; Caldera et al., 2003; Wambu et al., 2017; Hui and Lent, 2018; Tao et al., 2018). (Mau, 2000; Caldera et al., 2003; Wambu et al., 2017; Hui and Lent, 2018; Tao et al., 2018). According to Hofstede (2001, p.9), culture is the collective mental training that separates one group of people from another (Hofstede, 2001). In his groundbreaking study on cultural dimensions published in 1980, Hofstede identified four key cultural aspects across 40 countries (Hofstede, 1980). In individualistic cultures, people are seen as “independent entities,” whereas in collectivistic cultures, people are seen as “interdependent entities.” Decisions in individualistic cultures are based on people’s wishes and desires, whereas in collectivistic cultures, decisions are made jointly with the “in-group” (such as family, significant others, and peers), as well as the “out-group.” Power distance constitutes the second dimension. Power disparity in society and its institutions exists and is acceptable in high-power, remote civilizations. The third component, uncertainty avoidance, measures how well society accepts ambiguity and uncertainty. It is less accepted in societies with high uncertainty avoidance, while it is better acceptable in civilizations with low uncertainty avoidance. The last component, masculinity, and femininity is concerned with the dominant values and priorities. Maintaining positive interpersonal connections is more important in feminine cultures than in male ones, which prioritize success and the amassing of riches.

Hofstede subsequently proposed that a country’s score on factors including power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence indicates whether it has a collectivist or an individualistic bent (Hofstede, 2011). On the six cultural dimension score models listed above, nations that uphold individualistic principles may score well while nations that uphold collectivist values may score poorly (Hofstede, 1980, 2001, 2011). This paradigm makes it easier to categorize nations into individualistic or collectivist cultural environments.

Accordingly, western nations like Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA) have been shown to align with individualism, and their cultures are focused on freedom, independence, and individual autonomy; in contrast, African and Asian countries have been shown to align more closely with collectivism, where people value societal interdependence and communal benefits (Hofstede, 1980; Sinha, 2014). According to research, the traditional variations in young people’s job decision-making may be explained by the cultures’ bases in individualistic vs collectivist features (Mau, 2004; Amit and Gati, 2013; Sinha, 2014). Youths from collectivist societies may be expected to conform to familial and societal standards and they are frequently expected to follow a predetermined career track, whereas the normative practice in individualistic societies is for the youth to be encouraged to choose their careers and develop competency in establishing a career path for themselves (Oettingen and Zosuls, 2006).

Global migration has increased the frequency of interactions between individualistic and collectivist cultures during the last 20 years. Making a personal career decision in situations where migrant families have immigrated from their heritage cultures into a host country may be quite difficult given that different standards are prescribed for the youths’ career selection from the two cultures (collectivist—relatedness and individualistic—autonomy). As the families settle in the host countries, tension may develop between the adapting youth and their frequently traditional-focused and opinionated parents.

The United Nations (UN) reported that between 2000 to 2017, there were 173-258 million international migrants or 3.4 percent of the world’s population. The International Organization of Migration (IOM) defines migration as the movement of an individual or a group of individuals, either over an international boundary or inside a state (IOM, 2018). Migrant students who moved with their parents in this period of mass migration and are still deciding on their professional paths may be exposed to foreign cultural norms in general and the educational system in particular (Zhang et al., 2014). On that basis, migrant students may have a difficult time navigating their career requirements both within the educational systems of their host nations and also within the contexts of their own families. Uncertainties and difficulties arise for these migratory youngsters since the job decision-making process in their home cultures may vary from the culture of the host nation (Sawitri and Creed, 2017; Tao et al., 2018). Cultural undercurrents shape what young people can accomplish and how they are supposed to think when they plan and choose careers in the face of anticipated and unforeseen interests, objectives, expectations, personal experiences, commitments, and responsibilities. Some studies have looked at cross-cultural variances in the variables affecting young people’s job choices in both comparable and different cultural contexts (Mau, 2000; Lee, 2001; Fan et al., 2012, 2014; Tao et al., 2018). However, there could be significant variations among various migratory communities.

Given the impact of cultural heritage on career choice and the rising frequency of cross-cultural transitions, it is critical to assess the breadth and depth of research activities in the area of youth career choice, particularly about how cross-cultural movements affect young people’s career decision-making. To the best of our knowledge, there isn’t a thorough analysis of the current body of research in this field. This systematic review aims to examine the factors influencing young people’s career choices, with particular reference to cultural impact, using the three-dimensional framework put forth by Carpenter and Foster (1977). Additionally, it will point out any gaps in the body of literature and offer suggestions for future research. Finally, it will assist policymakers and educational counselors in creating effective career choice support systems by providing them with the tools they need.

Library Research

The Joana Briggs Institute (JBI) format was used for the literature search, and a systematic review technique was developed. James Cook University’s membership to the databases Education Resources Information Centre (ERIC), PsycINFO, Scopus, and Informit was used to access these databases between December 2016 and May 2018. Three phases of the topic and keyword searches were completed.

1. Career and terms related to it:

“Career exploration” OR “Career advancement” OR “Career choice” OR “Career choices” OR “Career planning” OR “Career guidance” OR “Career OR Careers” OR “Occupational aspiration” OR “Job OR Jobs OR Occupations OR Occupations OR Occupational” AND

2. Young people and related terms:

“Youth OR Youths” OR “Young Adults” OR “Students” OR “Adolescents” OR

3. variables and factors

Intrinsic, extrinsic, interpersonal, individualist, collectivist, cultural, cross-cultural, or any combination of these.

To provide more targeted results, the Boolean operators (OR/AND) and search filters were utilized. Peer-reviewed papers were included in the final search, and more abstracts were found by manually searching the references of publications found via these searches. To find and incorporate any new, relevant publications, searches of reference and citation lists began in December 2016 and continued in March, July, and November 2017 until ending in May 2018.

Criteria for Inclusion and Exclusion

Only peer-reviewed works with complete text that were published in English over the last 20 years (1997-2018) were considered. The final analysis included studies that examined the career preferences of young people from all cultures, including immigrant and bicultural youth (those who accompanied their parents to another country). Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensional Scores Model served as an inspiration for the use of the cultural concepts of collectivist and individualistic cultural settings (Hofstede, 2011). Since the study’s main focus was on young people choosing their careers rather than people in the workforce, abstracts that focused on students in lower grades or those who had already entered the workforce were excluded.

Extraction of Data

Using coding sheets, two of the researchers (PAT and BMA) independently evaluated data for extraction. Author and year of publication, nation and continent of participant enrollment, cultural context, research design, participant count, participant education level, and factors impacting profession choice and key outcomes were study characteristics that were compared. Data were cross-checked in a consensus meeting, and disagreements between the two reviewers were settled through discussion and agreement. If needed, T.I.E. and D.L., the third and fourth authors, could make a decision.

Assessment of Method Quality

Using JBI Critical Appraisal (CA) tools for qualitative and cross-sectional studies, two reviewers (PAT and TIE) evaluated the articles for quality and validity in this study (Aromataris and Munn, 2017). In the case of a dispute, a third reviewer (BMA) stepped in to provide a decision. Both JBI CA tools evaluate the included studies’ methodological quality to produce a score that ranges from 0 (low quality) to 8 or 10. (high quality). Using these tools, studies were classified as having low quality if their total score was between 0 and 3, moderate quality if it was between 4 and 6, and high quality if it was above 7. (sound methodology).

Characteristics of the study

This review identified the three factors (intrinsic, extrinsic, and interpersonal) influencing adolescents’ career decisions (Figure 2). Five (17%) of the 30 articles solely focused on interpersonal factors (Cheung et al., 2013; Gunkel et al., 2013; Fan et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2014; Fouad et al., 2016). 16 of the 30 studies (or 53%) primarily examined interpersonal and intrinsic factors (Mau, 2000; Lee, 2001; Caldera et al., 2003; Howard et al., 2009; Lent et al., 2010; Shin and Kelly, 2013; Cheung and Arnold, 2014; Sawitri et al., 2014, 2015; Guan et al., 2015; Li et al., 2015; Sawitri and Creed, 2015, 2017; Kim et al, 2016; Hui and Lent, 2018; Polenova et al., 2018).

Image 2. Using diagrams, the included studies highlight the variables that affect young people’s career decisions. The graph displays the number of studies that have focused on each of the three variables (intrinsic, extrinsic, and interpersonal).

There were no articles that just discussed internal or external elements. Choi and Kim (2013) and Atitsogbe et al. (2018), as well as extrinsic and interpersonal factors (Yamashita et al., 1999; Wüst and Leko mi, 2017) each examined the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The remaining five publications (17%) examined each of the three components (interpersonal, extrinsic, and (Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa, 2006; Agarwala, 2008; Gokuladas, 2010; Fan et al., 2012; Tao et al., 2018). The 30 articles that were part of this review are listed in Table 1. Self-interest, job satisfaction, and learning experiences are some intrinsic factors that have been studied in the literature. Work stability, assured job possibilities, large incomes, prominent professions, and future rewards are examples of extrinsic variables. Peer influence, family unity, parental involvement, and interactions with educators are examples of interpersonal factors.

Summary of the studies that were part of the review.

Argentina, Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, and Ukraine were among the collectivist cultural contexts examined in the reviewed articles, whereas Canada, Finland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States of America were individualistic contexts. It was believed that Italy was both individually and communally oriented. Participants in fourteen studies came from both individualistic and collectivist cultural contexts (Mau, 2000; Lee, 2001; Caldera et al., 2003; Howard et al., 2009; Fan et al., 2012, 2014; Cheung et al., 2013; Choi and Kim, 2013; Gunkel et al., 2013; Shin and Kelly, 2013; Zhang et al., 2014; Guan et al., 2015; Foua Twelve research examined situations in collectivist cultures (Yamashita et al., 1999; Bojuwoye and Mbanjwa, 2006; Agarwala, 2008; Gokuladas, 2010; Lent et al., 2010; Cheung and Arnold, 2014; Sawitri et al., 2014, 2015; Li et al., 2015; Kim et al, 2016; Sawitri and Creed, 2017). Three research (Hui and Lent, 2018; Polenova et al., 2018; Tao et al., 2018) looked at individuals who transitioned from collectivist to individualistic settings, while one study took into account both cultural features in a single setting (Howard et al., 2009). Of the included studies, 29 made use of various quantitative designs. These had a participant count ranging from 80 to 2087. One study had 12 participants and a qualitative design.

Quality of Included Studies’ Methods

Table 2 lists the quality evaluation procedures used in the 30 studies that make up this review. The JBI qualitative CA tool was used to evaluate the qualitative research, and it used good methodology (Table 2A). 9 of the 29 quantitative studies (or 31% of the total) that used the JBI cross-sectional CA tool had good methodology (score of 6.5–7). The remaining 20 studies (or 69%) were of fair quality (Table 2B).

Table 2. Evaluation of the included articles’ quality

Analysis of Study Findings

The study’s context and the underlying factors affecting young people’s career choices are described in Table 1 and Figure 3. Extrinsic, intrinsic, interpersonal, and emerging bicultural influences on professional choice are the four main themes that emerged from the analysis of the papers under evaluation. These four main topics each have several related subthemes, which are shown below.

Image 3. things that affect careers. The graphs show the discovered career-influencing elements and how they are distributed across various cultural contexts.