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

The symposium of 2019 will focus on exploring how the world in which individuals are pursuing their careers is changing and how people across the world are able to get support to develop their careers. It will also look at how governments organise career development support and connect them to wider policy aims and to other support services. Finally, it will explore the future of career development and ask how the field can be more innovative.

The symposium will focus on these four themes:

Theme #1 Context and challenges for career development policy
Theme #2 Aims for, and access to, career development
Theme #3 Integrating career development into wider society
Theme #4 Leading innovative change for the future

In advance of the symposium all attending countries are asked to produce a country paper setting out the key issues for their countries in relation to the four themes of the conference. You can find the Country Paper Template here.

Theme #1 Context and challenges for career development policy

The symposium will address the political, economic, social and technological forces which are shaping people's careers across the globe. The nature of these forces varies in different countries but there are a number of global trends which are faced by everyone. These include automation, the 'gig economy', the growth of unregulated and unreliable sources of information (including career information), conflict, growing migration, environmental change and a range of other issues.

These local and global challenges and the political responses to them can erode people's beliefs in public institutions, worsen working conditions and make career transitions more challenging. At the individual level many citizens may feel anxious about what such a world might mean for their chance of planning a career and achieving the kind of life, work and career that they hope for. Such changes raise serious concerns for career development systems that merit new policies and new thinking.

The right to build a career, and to be able to access support in doing so, is part of a wider call for social justice. Effective career development policies also help to support a dynamic labour market where skills and labour are used effectively.

The symposium will explore how those involved in the policy and practice of career development can develop new approaches in response to these wider social and economic challenges.

Theme #2 Aims for, and access to, career development

Career development programmes and services can support positive outcomes for the individual, the organisation and society. However, it is possible to 'do' career guidance in many different ways and to use it to support many different policies. For example, should career guidance programmes and services be focused on getting people into work as quickly as possible, on encouraging people to engage in education and training and upskill for the long term or on helping people to access 'decent work' that supports them to access a good livelihood? These are subtly different aims that position career guidance in different roles in the education and employment systems. How are such policy priorities for programmes and services decided, by whom and in whose interest?

There are also important questions about who is entitled to access career development services and who makes use of this entitlement. In many countries the entitlement to access career development services varies by age, migration status, working status and a range of other factors. How are access entitlement priorities decided and by whom?

A consideration of these issues raises questions about what social and economic policy aims we expect career guidance to contribute to. This raises questions for policy makers, but also important questions for practitioners as they relate to these policy aims and seek to relate them to the ethical standards of their profession. Perhaps most importantly decisions taken at the policy level and by practitioners have implications for programme participants and service users. How can we ensure that all of these voices are heard and have the opportunity to influence the way that programmes and services operate?

This theme will examine how career development is understood within the policy domain and explore innovative ways to connect policy to practice.

Theme #3 Integrating career development into wider society

'Career' describes the way in which individuals make their way through life, learning and work. In this journey they interact with a wide range of social and economic institutions (employers, employment services, education and training institutions, welfare services and so on). Career development programmes and services have a key role in helping individuals to manage their interactions with all of these different institutions, to make effective transitions from one life stage to the next and to interact with others. Because of this, the way in which career development programmes and services relate to other services and to wider society is critical.

This sub-theme explores how different career development programmes and services are inter-related with each other (e.g. school-based programmes and services with those in the public employment service). It also explores how career development interacts with other public services and with wider society. A key concern associated with this is how career development can work closely with related services without losing its identity or distinctive professionalism.

A key question in answering these challenges is in thinking about what new forms of leadership, coordination, partnership and collaboration are needed to ensure the effective integration of career development services.

Theme #4 Leading innovative change for the future

New communication technologies opens up opportunities for people to give and receive career support in new and different ways. But, technological changes are only one aspect of change that career development policies need to be alert to. Education and training systems are in a constant catch-up mode to deal with labour market changes that include job obsolescence, skills mismatches, automation, precarious working conditions, and the emergence of new occupations. Career development services need to be able to innovate to address this changing context.

In some countries with weak traditions of careers work, the creation of career development programmes and services is an innovation. In such situations the need to innovate, respond to changes and rapidly learn is paramount, but needs to be balanced by close attention to the efficacy of innovative provision.

Across all countries there is a need to find ways to encourage, support and develop innovations and to allow career guidance provision to change in response to the new ways that people are accessing information and services and co-constructing career related knowledge. They also need to ensure that programmes and services develop in line with the way in which people are managing their careers, including managing periods of unemployment.
This theme will look at the leadership that needs to exist within the career development field to support the innovations and developments to ensure that career guidance provision is up to date and ready for the future.