June 20, 2019 dmh

Leading career development services into an uncertain future: Ensuring access, integration and innovation

I attended the 9th International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy (ICCDPP) Symposium held in Trumso, Norway. A total of 33 Country Teams came together to share major policy developments and the challenges and opportunities within each country. Country papers cover five continents, representing totally different cultures, societies and levels of economic and social development. There is no one single ‘best model’ of career guidance service development.The full texts for all reports are available from: https://www.kompetansenorge.no/iccdpp2019/keyoutcomes/country-papers/

Here’ s a link to the International Communique from the event:


Theme #1 Context and challenges for career development policy – We explored how those involved in the policy and practice of career development can develop new approaches in response to wider social, technological and economic challenges. Analysis: The level of policy interest is growing – only a small minority reported this is shrinking

Some brief highlights from a Synthesis Report prepared by Erik Hagaseth Haug, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and Hannah Owens Svennungsen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology:

Political instability is highlighted as a main contextual issue in some countries (e.g. Republic of Kosovo, Syria). In Ghana on the other hand, it is highlighted that a stable political environment, and the peace and security in the country has greatly impacted foreign direct investment and the growth of businesses resulting in the emergence of new jobs and careers… In Ireland, the potential implications of the UK’s exit from the EU will have a direct impact on the economy of Ireland…In Tunisia, a main issue is lack of coordination between key ministries involved in the guidance processes (education, vocational training and higher education)…The Netherlands reports that there is growing political awareness, attention,and larger budgets for career development issues.” In stark contrast, Denmark reports that since 2013 government investment in careers support services has declined. Erik and Hannah state: “The USA describes themselves as being in a period of pendulum politics, where the objective is to reverse or eliminate previous policies.”

“Several countries highlight the importance of a rapidly changing economy to the way in which individuals are able to develop their careers (e.g. Cambodia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Qatar and Singapore). In India, the economy is undergoing a structural shift from agrarian-rural to becoming an urban and non-agrarian one, creating a demand for new forms of work. In many countries (e.g. Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, France, Japan, Luxembourg, Sri Lanka, Switzerland) there is an increasing consensus that there is a growing gap between the skills that industries and businesses require (mismatch).” Canada, Cambodia, Estonia and Serbia are facing workforce shortages and underemployment. In Eygpt, there is a lack of comprehensive information about the labour market. On the other hand, Finland is focused on the globalisation of the labour market, global mobility and migration as important issues.

“Some countries (e.g. Chile, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands) highlight social inequity and the segregation of structures as a main issue…In England key issues are seen as an inequalities in the working population with high levels of people in work poverty, student debt, a lack of decent work and the growth of zero-hour contracts. This is likely to be exacerbated further by Brexit. In South Korea, anxiety about employment has grown in response to a new employment policy which includes a rise in the minimum wage, the regularisation of irregular workers and a number of other initiatives. In Hungary, different vulnerable groups (women, low-skilled, youth, etc.) are underrepresented in the education system and in the labour market… In Mongolia, migration from rural areas to central regions and cities are an important contextual issue.” In Norway, Singapore and Slovakia concerns about an ageing population are apparent.

Theme #2 Aims for, and access to, career development – We examined how career development is understood within the policy domain and explore innovative ways to connect policy to practice. Analysis: Some interesting trends as countries each identify key priorities and target groups linked to specific policy aims.

Some brief highlights from the Synthesis Report prepared by John McCarthy, Director ICCDPP, Nice, France and Tibor Bors Borbély-Pecze, John Wesley Theological College (WJLF), Faculty for Social Work, Pedagogy, and International Relations, Budapest, Hungary

“In many countries, access to career development services is limited in the education sector and exists mainly for the unemployed in the employment sector. Employers, people living in rural areas and disadvantaged adults in general have the most difficulties in accessing services. Policy expectations for career development services, especially in the employment sector, are not matched by the quantity and quality of resources provided by government for such services and programmes. The public is rarely consulted in the development of policies for career development provision and in the design of services, despite the personal nature of such services. The use of customer feedback on career development provision is greatly underdeveloped in many countries, again despite the personal nature of such services, but some good examples of service and product co-designing are emerging.” Tables 1-6 present an overview of similarities and differences.

Theme #3 Integrating career development into wider society – We discussed what new forms of leadership, coordination, partnership and collaboration are needed to ensure the effective integration of career development services. Analysis: Many countries are responding to the challenges and the growing interest by experimenting with and/or adopting joined together approaches

Some brief highlights from the Synthesis Report prepared by Lynne Bezanson, Canadian Career Development Foundation and Ingrid Bårdsdatter Bakke, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

“When we think about the overarching theme of career development in the wider society, the tentacles of career development and the expected outcomes from its programs and services are multiple and complex. They include at least:

For individuals. Career development can assist people to find direction, learn career management skills and create pathways to achievement and opportunity in education and work.

For the education system. Career development can help to graduate students with higher rates of qualification and with learning and career plans, reduce dropout rates and help to engage parents.

For the labour market. Career development can contribute to a balance between supply and demand, reduce unemployment, underemployment and dependency, and help individuals and the education system to engage with and meet expectations of employers.

For social policy. Career development can support marginalised groups such as migrants and minorities to integrating successfully into the labour market and promote overall citizen engagement and well-being.”

They also report “Of the 33 countries participating, 30 indicated that policy makers are looking more closely to career development programs and services as a potentially positive and cost-effective response to rising social inequity, skill shortages, challenges with migration pressure, and heightened precarity and anxiety about the future of work…There is enormous variation between countries. Different countries organise leadership, strategy and structures in the career development system in very different ways. While all countries have a need for leadership in the sector the responses and contexts vary hugely.”

Some selected examples: Croatia and Estonia have both merged education and employment into a Public Employment Service. Finland reports moving towards a single delivery structure for career development through the establishment of a joint Growth Service which is planned to be established in 2019. In Scotland, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has an all-age inclusive career service with SDS career advisors in every secondary school and drop in centres open to all in every community. In many countries, young adults who no longer receive services from the education system often face challenges accessing the employment assistance system. Several countries are tackling this by ensuring provision up to 35 (Ghana) or training guarantees up to age 25 (Austria, Finland, Hungary, Japan). The -3+3 approach in France is an interesting strategy whereby youth are supported through specific services three years prior to graduation and 3 years after. In large decentralised countries such as Canada and the USA, departments of education and labour are the mandated responsibilities of provinces or states. In Canada this represents 13 different jurisdictions and in the USA, 52 different jurisdictions. “This results in no single lead in policy making, no shared vision and as pointed out in the USA paper, a ’siloed approach‘ to career services.”

National forums that bring together different ministries to advance career development policy and practice are the most common approaches to leadership. Austria’s National Forum has been in existence for 17 years and has strong connections with the entire employer community. Three different ministries (Education, Labour, and Economics) rotate chairing the Forum meetings…A similar approach is taken in Finland where the National Lifelong Guidance Working Group is co-chaired by Ministries of Education and Employment and their steering committee is held accountable for the goals achieved. Several countries report trying to restore Forums which were disbanded some years ago (Estonia, Serbia, Denmark)…One stop career centres in Finland (x70), Croatia is rapidly expanding its careers centres and will be providing access across the country through 22 centres by 2022.

“Several countries reported that employer connections were becoming stronger and that there was more attention to the demand side by the career development sector (Japan, USA, Croatia, and Estonia). The provision of work experience for students was also cited with Japan reporting that 98% of its students have a minimum of three days of work experience and this is coordinated through their Chambers of Commerce and a number of NGO’s. Japan also describes a recognition program titled ‘Youth Yell Certification System’ with financial incentives for employers who recruit and train youth, particularly at risk youth. A number of Awards for Excellence are in place to stimulate educational initiatives by business communities.” Finally, the country papers show that there is inconsistency in the professionalism of career development professionals globally. There is a lack of clarity on the distinct scope of practice and competencies of career professionals and the distinctions between career development professionals and others in the helping professions, specifically psychologists and teachers.

Theme #4 Leading innovative change for the future – We reflected on the leadership that needs to exist within the career development field to support innovation and ensure that career guidance provision is up to date and ready for the future. Analysis: Jointly agree a national and cross-ministerial strategy for career guidance and a common conceptual framework for service design, delivery and funding 

Some brief highlights from the Synthesis Report prepared by Dr Raimo Vuorinen, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä and Dr Jaana Kettunen, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.

“Most of the national portals for Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) provide information on job characteristics, such as qualifications, open vacancies, employment rates and salaries (e.g., Cambodia, Chile, Ghana, Switzerland). Some countries have enhanced these portals by including information about labour market trends, future skills need and emerging competence areas, available training programmes and general labour market statistics (e.g., Croatia, Estonia). Country papers also include efforts to improve the quality of the LMI through national standards (e.g., Canada) and to widen access to LMI through mobile applications (e.g., Canada, Kosovo) and videos (e.g., Egypt, Estonia, Slovenia). Some countries have allocated specific resources to examine the impacts of fourth industrial revolution to working life and how to use these results in developing the quality of LMI and its use in career development (e.g., Japan, Netherlands, Qatar, Singapore). The efforts to link AI with LMI include initiatives to facilitate open access to relevant data for different user groups (e.g., France). Scotland has specific emphasis on equipping the career professionals with the most recent available job opportunities and labour market intelligence.” Vuorinen and Kettunen indicate “The acquisition of career management skills and transition learning as a continuum and a wide-range explicit generic competence is supported through a career passport or a portfolio (Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, the United States)…Features of a sustainable career education system include benchmarks for programme delivery (e.g., England) a national career development framework (Estonia, Ireland, Scotland) or gaining a legal status for career education in curricula (Austria, Finland, Korea, Kosovo, Norway, Scotland).”

“Career services increasingly use ICT for communication. This communication between career practitioners and users takes place both asynchronously and synchronously using helplines, videoconferencing or chats (Canada, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany). In addition to career services for the end-users, online communication among the practitioners is promoted through webinars, e-learning courses and MOOCs (England, Estonia, Kosovo, Scotland). Countries provide some examples of the use of webinars or MOOCs targeted to specific target groups and for collaborative career exploration (Canada, England). Some countries report that they have been providing open access to real time educational and labour market information for different user groups as well as for policy makers and system developers. Canada is testing a data management and reporting system (PRIME) to collect and report data on client progress indicators as an evidence base for policy development. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics is in early stage. Countries provide few examples of established pilot projects (France, Korea, Singapore) which aim to facilitate selfassessment, career exploration and job applications.”

“Countries with federal structure or strongly decentralised administration have linked the implementation of innovations to regional initiatives on skills development (e.g., Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland) or to jointly agreed partnerships with stakeholders, associations or the private sector (e.g., Canada, the Netherlands, the United States). Cross-sectoral efforts for implementation are also integrated in national cross-ministerial strategies for career development (e.g., Croatia, Egypt, Qatar) Efforts to link technical innovations within the national e-Governance strategies are presented (e.g., in Austria, Japan, Estonia, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland). Countries also provide examples of high level working groups focusing on the interoperability of existing and future e-Services for citizens (e.g., Finland). France has established a State Lab Project on artificial intelligence to promote innovations.”

It’s worthwhile spending time looking at each of the Country Reports to see in more detail how they approach career development in their context and circumstances. Finally, the OECD, Cedefop, European Commission, UNESCO and ILO are currently working on a joint statement highlighting the critical importance of careers support services for people of all ages in a fast changing and uncertain world. Watch this space!


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