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The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment


April 2010, Vol. 4
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The Development of an Interest Inventory
Using Holland·s RIASEC Typology

D. Gerard J. Louis
Help University College, Malaysia

Abstract
The study set out to develop an interest inventory, using the Holland typology as the
framework for the model. The purpose of the study was to determine if this inventory
would produce a good fit with Holland·s RIASEC typology, using data from a
Malaysian sample. The Structural Equations Modeling analysis was used to test the
goodness of fit of this scale with the RIASEC typology. Initial results showed that the
inventory has an adequate fit using the RIASEC typology. More investigation has to be
done on the instrument to determine if the inventory also follows the RIASEC
ordering for a Malaysian sample.

Keywords: RIASEC, Interest Inventory

Ask any school going student who has identified a career of choice , the
reasons for making such a decision and invariably you will get an answer to this
effect: ´because I am interested in itµ. It does not really matter if the student
has very little idea over what is required of the job, the skills or abilities needed
to do the job well or even the suitability of the job to this individual. All that
matters is the perceived interest towards the job.
Over the years, the vocational interests of a person has become the most
important trait used in determining occupational selection because there is a
greater ability to predict more accurately from interests than from aptitude for
individuals with many abilities who have the option to choose from a many
different occupations (Sharf, 2006). In fact, vocational interests have been a
pillar of vocational psychology and career counseling since the early 1 900s
(Betsworth & Fouad, 1997).
Vocational interest inventories are used by counselors to identify the
dominant occupational interests of their clients. The scores from these
inventories help the counselor to determine groupings of educational and
vocational possibilities. They form the basis for further exploration until a
suitable career choice is made (Savickas & Taber, 2006).
Many popular vocational interests instruments for individuals (such as
the Stong Interest Inventory (SII; Strong, 1994), Kuder Career Seach With
Person Match (Zytowski & Kuder, 1999), The Unisex Edition of the ACT
Interest Inventory (UNIACT; Swaney, 1995) report scores based on some form
of the Holland typology and is used as the standard method linking persons and
occupational alternatives (Reardon, Bullock, & Meyer, 2007). Holland·s theory
has in fact produced over 500 studies and has been more researched than any
other career development theory (Sharf, 2006). His typology is also integrated
into the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a comprehensive
database sponsored by the U.S Department of Labor·s Employment and
Training Administration. This database provides information on about 975
occupations, worker skills, and job training requirements and has become the
main source of U.S. occupational information (U.S. Department of Labor,
1998).

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The basic proposition of Holland·s theory of vocational choice is that
people must select occupations and occupational environments that are
consistent with their personality type in order to have some measure of
satisfaction with their jobs (Brown, 2007). This is because people express
themselves, their interests, and values through their work choices and
experience (Sharf, 2006). The theory posits six personality types: realistic (R),
investigative (I), artistic (A), social (S), enterprising (E), and conventional (C) that
matches six specific work environments. Both individuals and environments
consist of a combination of types. The relationship among these types can be
spatially depicted in the form of an equilateral hexagon: Additionally, interests
are best represented by the hexagon in the following order: R -I-A-S-E-C with the
adjacent types more closely related compared to those types opposite in the
hexagon (Holland, 1985 as cited by Hansen, Sarman, Collins, 1999; Betsworth,
and Fouad, 1997).
Numerous studies have supported Holland 's RIASEC ordering and
hexagonal spatial configuration as a fair representation of interest structure
within the White American population. (e.g., Hansen, Collins, Swanson, &
Fouad, 1993; Rounds, Davison, & Dawis, 1979; Fouad, Cudeck, & Hansen,
1984 as cited in Hansen, Sarman, & Collins, 1999). Additionally, Swanson,
Gore, Leuwerke, D'Achiardi, Edwards, and Edwards (2006) noted that an
added advantage of the Holland codes is that due to the easy recall of these
codes, clients and counselors can expedite the gathering of information.
However, there are also studies that critique the Holland model noting
consistency in the proposed ordering of the R-I-A-S-E-C types in their data but
not the hexagonal configuration among African Americans (Swanson (1992);
Wakefield, Yom, Doughtie, Chang, and Alston (1975). Haverkamp et al. (1994)
also found significant departures in both ordering and configuration of the six
types in a sample of Asian American college students as did Hansen, Sarman,
and Collins (1999) with the Chicana(o) and Latina(o) segment of the U.S.
population. On the basis of many of these studies, doubts have been raised on
the universality of Holland·s proposed interest structure. Hansan, Saman, and
Collins (1999) citing the Rounds and Tracey (1996) study notes that non-U.S
samples and ethnic minority groups, including those from Australia and
Canada, did not typically exhibit Holland·s R -I-A-S-E-C configuration.
According to Sharf (2007), Holland himself acknowledges that his theory can be
affected by age, gender, social class, intelligence, and education.

Purpose and Rationale of the Study

Given that Holland·s interest structure can be affected by the type of


population that uses the model, the main purpose of this study is to construct an
interest inventory based on the Holland·s typology but tested against an Asian
population in Asian and to discover what would be the best fit model for such a
population (This interest inventory is called the ´CAREERsense@HELP
Interest Inventoryµ or simply CASH-II. CAREERsense is the name of the
career guidance center at HELP University College in Kuala Lumpur that
sponsored the study to develop an interest inventory for the center).
The initial idea of using 12 subscales in the CASH-II was to offer greater
differentiation to an environment by increasing the number of jobs offered in
the environment as well as making each environment as homogeneous as

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possible so that the person choosing statements for a job highly reflect the
environment. According to Brown (2007), one of the limitations of the Holland
classification is that work environments are rarely homogeneous. ´For example,
counselors are typically SAE (social, artistic, enterprising), but they operate in
many environments depending on their positions. Some counselors are
involved with massive amounts of paperwork, must use computers, and are
required to engage in extensive recordkeeping, all of which are more
compatible with conventional or investigative personality types than they are
with the preferences of SAEsµ (Brown, 2007, p.372). The researcher wanted to
limit this ambiguity in the respondents choices by choosing specific statements
from the job descriptions located in the various dictionaries of oc cupations such
as the O*NET and Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) which clearly
reflect a Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising or Conventional
type of person.
A 12 subscale model was also suggested as according to Brown (2007),
when the Holland classification system is used, it is sometimes difficult to help
clients identify all occupations that are related to their personality type. Meir,
Rubin, Temple, & Osipow (1997), in their examination of interest inventories
noted that Roe (1956) had actually separated Holland·s Social Careers into
person-to-person interactions which she labeled as ´Serviceµ and the
community or group interactions such as the educational and humanities
careers, which she labeled as ´General cultureµ. I believe this somewhat
addresses the difficulty in identifying occupations related to a personality type as
it gives the respondents a wider spread of occupations in more clearly
delineated categories. In the CASH-II, the Social Careers were also similarly
divided in two subscales, the ´Community and Service and Educationµ subscale
(which focuses on community level social interactions) and the ´Hospitality and
Tourismµ subscale (which focuses on the individual or personal service
interaction). Similarly, the Artistic Careers are divided into the ´Performing and
Fine Artsµ subscale and the ´Applied Written and Visual Artsµ subscale as they
help to further narrow down specific interests in the Artistic Careers, thereby
offering greater differentiation to respondents in identifying occupations related
to their personality type. (Further description of the CASH-II will be given in
the Method section).

Method

Participants

Data for the study was compiled from two sources. Both were
convenient samples. The first sources was data came from high school and
college students who attended a weekend live-in program at HELP University
College. A second sample source came from high school students who attended
the scholarship interviews conducted by the university at HELP itself and in
Seremban (a city outside of Kuala Lumpur). A total of 202 students between the
ages of 16-24 years took the test. For those who wished, they were given a quick
explanation of the test after the scoring was done.

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Materials

CASH-II. The original model of the CASH-II is a 120 item interest


inventory created using the Holland RIASEC typology as a conceptual
framework. It has 12 subscales with 10 items in each subscale. Every main
Holland factor is represented by two of these subscales. The Realistic factor has
two subscales of ´Agriculture and Farmingµ and ´Information Communication
Technologyµ making up the factor. Similarly, the subscales of ´Natural Sciences
and Engineering Technologyµ and ´Medical Sciencesµ make up the
Investigative factor. The Artistic factor is divided into subscales of ´Performing
and Fine Artsµ and ´Applied Visual and Written Artsµ. The Social factor has
the ´Community Service and Educationµ and ´Hospitality and Tourismµ
subscales making up this factor. The Enterprising factor contains the
´Marketing and Salesµ and ´Legal and Protective Servicesµ subscale, and finally,
the Conventional factor is made up of the ´Office Financeµ and ´Logistics and
Distributionµ subscales.
The main factors of the CASH-II follow the RIASEC typology. Each of
these six alphabets represents a specify work place environment. The Realistic
(R) environment involves the manipulation of tools, machines, or animals. In
such a setting, individuals are required to have technical competencies that will
allow them to carry out activities such as fix machines, repair electronic
equipment, herd animals, or deal with other physical aspects of their
environment. The Investigative (I) environment is one in which the individual
searches for solutions to problems through mathematical, analytical and
scientific competencies. The Artistic (A) environment is one that encourages
creativity and personal expression rather than logical expression. The
Enterprising (E) environment is where people manage and persuade others to
achieve organizational and personal goals. It is an environment wherein
promotion, power, persuasion, and selling take place. Finally, the Conventional
(C) environment is one where a lot of organization and planning work happens.
This involves activities such as keeping records, organizing, doing clerical work,
managing office finances by bookkeeping and auditing financial records.
Each of the 120 items is a statement reflecting a core activity of a certain
occupation. This activity should also be consistent with the interest ranking of
the occupation on the O*NET or the DOT. Respondents will be asked to rate
how much they would like to do each of these statements on a five point Likert
scale, with a rating of ´1µ meaning that they dislike doing the activity a great deal
to a rating of ´5µ, which is taken to mean that they like doing very much the
activity.

Development of the CASH-II. Each of the 120 items was carefully


selected using a combination of criteria. They were either taken from the
Exploratory Factor Analysis of an earlier draft of the CASH-II, created about
four years ago or from statements in the O*NET or DOT which clearly reflects
an association with the subscale and the main factor. If an item did not fit this
criterion, it was not considered. Additionally, after the scale was completed, it
was circulated to 3 career guidance experts working in CAREERsense@HELP
for their comments and review of the items to ensure clarity of meaning and
consistency with the subscales and factors. Their recommendations were
incorporated into this final draft of the CASH-II. Decision on each of the

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subscales was guided by the Map-of-the-World (Counselor Version) developed
by Prediger et.al (1993) as cited in Brown (2007). The Map-of-the-World
shows the location of 26 families of jobs based on their relationships to four
primary work tasks: working with data, people, things, and ideas. These job
families are in turned also grouped according to six general areas of the world of
work, which are congruent with the Holland typology: administration and sales
(enterprising), business operations (conventional), technical (realistic), science
and technology (investigative), arts (artistic), and social service (social) (Brown,
2007). The decision to use the Map-of-the-World as an added guide to
determining the subscales was to ensure that there is was already an established
framework using these subscales which were related to the Holland typology.

Initial data analysis. An initial chi-square goodness of fit analysis was


conducted on the 120 item inventory but results indicated that this 12 subscale
2
version of the CASH-II was a poor fit ( > = 272.304, df = 39) and was significant
at p<.000. The RMS standardized residual also showed a poor fit (RMS=0.081).
Subsequently, a Principal Components factor analysis using varimax rotation
was conducted on the 120 item scale. The analysis, with Eigenvalues set at 1.0
and factor loadings at 0.4, yielded a 10 factor scale which accounted for 55.9%
of the variance.
Results of the factor analysis were also used to reassign items to new
subscales. For example, the Community Service and Education and Medical
Science subscales are now merged into a new subscale called the Community
and Medical Services. Similarly, the Sales and Marketing and Office Finance
subscales are now merged into a new subscale called the Business Activities
subscale. All other scales retained their labels. This model was then made the
new default model for the rest of the analysis.

Data Analysis

The internal consistency of the CASH-II was determined using the


Cronbach alpha. The Cronbach alpha is a statistic that indicates the internal
consistency of CASH-II, based on the average inter-item correlation.
The content validity of the CASH-II was determined using an
Exploratory Factory Analysis of the 120 items, with Eigenvalues set at 1.0 and
Factor Loadings at .4.
To determine if the CASH-II possesses a goodness of fit with the
RIASEC typology, a Structural Equations Modeling approach was used to assess
the correlations between the main factors. A comparison of ordered pairs based
on Holland·s structural hypothesis indicated if the CASH-II followed the
hexagonal model where the adjacent types will have a higher correlation with
each other but weaker with the types opposite in the hexagon. Additionally, the
noncentrality and single sample goodness of fit indices was used to indicate the
goodness of fit of the CASH-II with the RIASEC model were the Steiger-Lind
RMSEA, McDonald Noncentrality Index, Population Gamma Index, Joreskog
GFI and AGFI and the Chi-squared goodness of fit test. The RMSEA is a
measure of the ´badness-of-fit per degrees of freedom of the model with values
of less than .05 indicating very close fit, values between .05 to .08 good fit, values
between .08 to .10 mediocre fit and values over .10 poor fit (Darcy and Tracey,
2007 citing Browne and Cudek, 1993). GFI values are an indication of the

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variance accounted for by the model and GFI values ranging from 0 (poor fit) to
1 (perfect fit) (Darcy and Tracey, 2007).

Results

Cronbach·s alpha was calculated to determine the internal consistency


of the CASH-II. A value of .97 was obtained, indicating a high internal
consistency of the instrument of the original 12 subscale instrument. The
Conbach alpha for the revised 10 subscale instrument was .964, maintaining the
high internal consistency for this revised scale.
Content validity of the CASH-II was obtained using an Exploratory
Factor Analysis on the data. Setting the Eigenvalue at 1.0 and a factor loading of
at least .4, the factor analysis was able to generate a 12 factor structure which
accounted for 59.2% of the total variance. This value indicates that the CASH-II
has a moderate to high content validity. The 10 factor structure in turn
accounted for 55.9% of the variance.

Model 1: Original 120 item 6-factor model. In model 1, the goodness of


2
fit showed a poor fit ( > = 272.304, df = 39) which is significant at, p<.000. The
Steiger-Lind RMSEA index also showed a poor fit (RMSEA= 0.17). Other
noncentrality and single sample fit indices also showed that this model was a
poor fit with the RIASEC typology (McDonald Noncentrality index = 0.570,
Population Gamma Index Index = 0.842, Joreskog GFI = 0.82, and Joreskog
AGFI = 0.64). Figure 1 shows the factor structure for model 1.

Model 2: Revised CASH-II with 96 items, 10 subscales, 6-Factor Model.


In this model, the chi-square goodness of fit test shows an adequate and much
2
better fit than the original 12 scale model ( > = 41.195, df =18) which is
significant, p<.001. The Steiger-Lind RMSEA shows a good fit (RMSEA =
0.075). Other noncentrality and single sample fit indices also showed that this
model was also a good fit with the RIASEC typology (McDonald Noncentrality
index = 0.951, Population Gamma Index Index = 0.842, Joreskog GFI = 0.963,
and Joreskog AGFI = 0.888).
In model 2, some of the residual error terms were also covaried with
each other. The rationale for doing this is that there are possibly still items in
the different subscales which covary significantly with each other. The decision
on which error terms to covary is based on the analysis of the items on the
Principal Components analysis. Results showed that there was

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The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment
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Table1 4

Noce rality Fit  ces of Model 1 a Model 2


2 3 3

Model 1 Origial 6 Model 2


Factor Model 6-Factor
Adjusted
Steiger-Li RMSEA  ex
3 3 0.170 0.075

McDoald Noce rality  ex


2 3 0.570 0.951

Populatio Gamma  ex 3 0.842 0.980

Adjusted Populatio Gamma  ex 3 0.684 0.940

Table 2 4

Sigle Sample Fit  ces of Model 1 a Model 2


3 3

Sigle Sample Fit  ex 3 Model 1 Model 2


Origial 6 Factor Adj. 6-
Factor
Joreskog GF 0.820 0.963
Joreskog AGF 0.640 0.888
Schwarz·s Bayesia Criterio 2.385 1.182
 epe ece Model Chi-Square
3 3 1409.127 790.589
 epe ece Model df
3 3 66.000 45.000
Be ler-Boett No-Normed Fit
2 0.706 0.922
 ex
3

Be ler-Comparative Fit  ex


2 3 0.826 0.969
Bolle·s Delta 0.830 0.970

Correlatios

The adjusted 6-Factor model of the CASH- was compared with


Holla ·s hexagoal model for i erpretig i erclass a i raclass
3 2 2 3 2

relatioships. Accordig to Tracey a Rou s (1996), because the i erpoi


3 3 2 2

distaces o the RASEC types are iversely proportioal to each other, it


follows that the adjace types are most related while the adjace types have a
2 2

i ermediate relatioship, a the opposite types show the weakest


2 3

relatioships.  order words, the correlatios amog the pairs of adjace 2

RASEC types (R, A, AS, SE, EC, a CR) are greater tha the correlatios
3

amog pairs of alterate types (RA, S, AE, SC, ER, C). O the other ha , 3

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Table 4 <
Compariso of Correlatios of Adjace Pairs (R,  , AS, SE, EC, CR) a
> < >
;
@ A
=

Opposite Pairs (RS,  , AC) of R C Types  the Adjusted CASH- ? ;

B
R RS  RS AS RS SE RS EC RS CR RS
C C C C C C
     

AC AC AC AC AC AC

Note. Eclosed cells FiDEcate a reverse stregth i relatioship betee the pairs. E.g. the I
Opposite pairs of RS,  , aD AC have a bigger correlatio compared E GH the Adjace G Pair 
istead of the reverse.

Table 5
Compariso of Correlatios of Alterate Pair (RA,  , AE, SC, ER, C a
> < > @ A
? =

Opposite Pairs (RS,  , AC) of R C Types  the Adjusted CASH- ? ;

J
RA RS  RS AE RS SC RS ER RS C RS
C C C C C C
     

AC AC AC AC AC AC

Note. Eclosed pairs iDEcate a reverse stregth relatioship betee the pairs. E.g. the
F
Alterate Pairs of RS,  , aD AC have a bigger correlatio compared E GH the Opposite Pair of
RA istead of the reverse.

Results sho that out of the 72 possible predictios i terms of the @ A

stregth of the adjace , alterate, a opposite pairs  each other, the


;
A@
=
@ A
;

CASH- geerated 47 pairs  ch ere cosiste  this predictio. This


@ A
; ;

shos a moderate compariso  Holla ·s actual model. A examiatio of


; =

Holla ·s o model geerated a possible 59 pairs out of the possible 72


=

predicted pairs (Bro, 2007).

Discussio
@ A

This study set out to examie the goodess of fit of the CASH- 
< > @
;

the ell researched Holla ·s R C typology. Results i cated that the


= ?
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=

origial 120 item, 12 subscale ive ry as i ally a poor fit usig the
@
;K ;

Holla ·s circular model. Follo g through from this, items ere re -examied
=
@ A

usig the Pricipal Compoe s factor aalysis,  a varimax rotatio. This


;
@ A
;

process geerated a 10 subscale istrume  t of the origial 12 subscales, ; ; K

the Medical Scieces a Egieerig a Office Fiace subscales, i egrated


@
= = ;

L
i the Commu Service a Educatio a Marketig a Sales subscales
;K ; = = =
@
L
respectively. These ely merged subscales ere reamed as Commu a ; =

Medical services a Busiess Activities subscales respectively. This process


=

also yielded a 96 item istrume from the origial 120 items. Hoever, due to
;

time costrai s i producig this paper, the adjusted scale could  be te sted
;
@ @
K;

o to a e sample. Hoever, usig data from the i al sample, the statistical A@
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aalysis as able to produce a model  ch as a good fit to the Holla ·s @
=

model. The reliability a validity i ces remaied high. Furthermore, a


= =

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The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment
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comparison of the correlations of ordered pairs between the adjacent, alternate,
and opposite pairs on the hexagonal model showed that the adjusted 10 scale
instrument was able to generate up to 47 pairs from the possible 72 predicted
outcomes. Further statistical analysis on this is required to assess if this outcome
is statistically significant.
While the adjusted model presented positive goodness of fit data, it
does not indicate clearly what type of structural model it actually follows. In a
review of the circumplex structure of Holland·s RIASEC, Darcey and Tracey
(2007) citing Guttman (1954) labeled that term circumplex to refer to a general
pattern of relations. In reference to Holland·s model, it could be structured as
circulant model (where all the RIASEC types are equally spaced around a
circle) or a structure which has a less exact circular ordering of variables (Darcy
and Tracy, 2007). Determination of the ordering of the structure can be done
using various analytical methods such as the randomization test of hypothes ized
order relations (Hubert and Arabie, 1987) and multidimensional scaling (MDS).
The weak attempt to manually assess the number of ordered correlated pairs
still required a test of significance (which was out of the scope of the course that
we took in Advance Statistics). Additionally, as there was a revision of the
instrument without testing the new subscales with a different sample, MDS
could not be done to observe the spatial ordering of the RIASEC using the
adjusted CASH-II.
On the other hand, Gati (1978) was able to create a hierarchy model
based on the results of a cluster analysis of Holland·s model which partitions the
RIASEC type into a three group single partition [RI]-[AS]-[EC]. Could it also be
possible therefore that the poor fit of the original 12 subscale model maybe due
to the fact that it follows a different kind of structuring than the hypothesized
circular model as there are many different ways to structure the typology. Long
and Tracey (2005) noted in a structural meta-analysis to evaluate the fit of four
different representations of the relations among RIASEC types from Chinese
participants. Their results indicated that Holland·s circular model was the worst
of the 4 models tested in this population, rega rdless of RIASEC measure,
gender, region or age. An analysis of the respondents who took the CASH-II
indicated that 84% of the respondents in the sample were made up of Malaysian
Chinese. Could this have contributed to the lack of fit hypothesizing a circular
model for the original CASH-II.
Finally, a poor fit of the original 12 subscale model could also have been
due to the lack of participants in the sample. The Structural Equations
Modeling method of analysis typically requires a large sample using as a rule of
thumb, at least 20 respondents for every variable in the model. Given this, we
would have required at least 240 respondents for the analysis (we obtained only
202 respondents). Scaling down the variables to 10 in the adjusted CASH-II
helped in producing a better fit of the mode l as it then met with the sample size
requirement.
A more in depth analysis of the both the 12 and 10 subscale model
should be done in the future to explore their fit in other types of models such as
the quasi-circumplex and hierarchical models to determine if there is greater
consistency with these structures. Additionally, a test of significance using the
randomization test of hypothesized order relations would offer a better picture
of the CASH-II in relation to its fit with the circular model of Holland.

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About the Author

Mr. D. Gerard J. Louis


B.Sc.Ed.(Hons)(Uniersity Malaya, KL), MSc. Guidance and Counseling (De
La Salle Uniersity, Manila)

Gerard as a former school Principal and has been inoled in the field of
counseling, training and education for oer 20 years. He is a registered and
M

licensed Counselor  th the Counseling Board of Malaysia and a former


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member of the Ad sory Counseling Panel to the Minister of Women, Family
and Community Deelopment. Gerard as also in charge of setting up and
seeing to the full accreditation of the Masters in Counse ling at HELP Uniersity
M

College. He has extensie experience in the training, super sion and


deelopment of both professional and para -counselors. He as also the former
Director of CAREERsense@HELP, the career-guidance and testing center at
the uniersity.

He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Counseling Psychology at De La Salle


Uniersity, Manila but continues to act as a Consultant and Trainer for the
Center for Workplace Performance and Learning as ell as CAREERsense at
HELP.

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