Gudbjörg Vilhjálmsdóttir

Keynote speaker NoRNet 2021


Gudbjörg Vilhjálmsdóttir is a professor in career guidance and counselling at the University of Iceland. Gudbjörg is currently vice president of the International Association of Educational and Vocational Guidance.

Her current research is on young workers without formal qualifications, their views of their current work, for example if it is decent, and their career adaptability. Her findings support previous work within the Psychology of Working Theory as well as adding to it measures of career adaptability in young workers. This group is in a vulnerable position as unqualified work is in shorter supply in a society of growing automation.

Career choices of young people have always been at the centre of Gudbjörg‘s research interests, using both Bourdieu‘s sociological theory and the constructivist theories of Kelly and, especially Savickas, to better understand the interplay of social and psychological phenomena in career choice. Gudbjörg has also done evaluative research on career interventions, as well as conducting the first comparative research on guidance services in the Nordic countries.

Gudbjörg has written career education materials and for the first three years she led the creation of the first ICT platform for use in career guidance in Iceland.

Recently, Gudbjörg has participated in the UNITWIN NETWORK “Life designing interventions (counseling, guidance, education) for decent work and sustainable development”.


"Young workers without formal qualifications: expectations, career adaptability and decent work"

The focus of this quantitative study are young people at work who are in a precarious situation in the labour market because they dropped out of upper secondary school and are therefore working mainly in low-skilled jobs. Growing automation in the labour market will probably result in the reduction of low-skilled jobs in the future which means that changes are inevitable for this group. The theoretical framework of psychology of working theory allows a better understanding of the precarious situation they find themselves in. Results on work experience, dreams and expectations at work will be presented and discussed, as well as views on decent work and its link with career adaptability.