Posted by: Gillian | October 20, 2009

Careers, professionalism and education

Bill Law and Rachel Mulvey yesterday evening kicked off the NICEC/CRAC debate entitled, Past its Sell-By Date? Career guidance for the 21st Century. People spoke with passion about the good that can be done – whether for fourteen year-olds, undergraduates or employed adults – but the broad consensus was that career guidance may not be dead but the sell-by sticker now needs a use-by date.

Few people have ever taken a truly detached, scientific view of their “education, training and labour market ” options and chosen the career with “the greatest net utility” (Bennett et al, 1992) but, in an era of widespread social media and serial short-term employment, the pragmatic rationality and careership theory of Hodkinson et al (2008) takes on greater significance. Yet, does even this theory go far enough to explain what is needed today? Our social selves are no longer bound by the place in which we live or a bricks-and-mortar campus. We have widely dispersed and diversely skilled online networks on which we can call for ideas and expertise. We can work online and carry on multiple simultaneous ‘careers’. Even if in regular employment in an organisation with a hierarchy, there is awareness both that the security can disappear (look what happened to all those financiers or car makers) and that the terms of what remains can change (reduced benefits, rising pension ages).

Throughout last night’s debate, four points kept nagging at me:

  1. I would never call myself a careers guidance professional and yet I and many like me frequently pass on knowledge through LinkedIn to those who are independently seeking next steps in their career-related education.
  2. There is an inherent conflict (felt by several in the debate) between the short-term funding of publicly-funded career advice and the long-term socio-economic needs of individuals. This need not be the case.
  3. The UK seems to me to do pragmatic rationality rather too well. Where are the running footsteps and the breathless enquiry from a 20 year-old about how to set up a school for journalists? Why are the UK funds for study in Europe so little used? Where is the celebration of those with serial careers and life experience?
  4. The health of our social capital in a rapidly changing global environment lies less in advising someone on the route to a specific job and more in developing a range of skills for a variety of circumstances. That requires fostering of curiosity, encouragement of aspiration, support in entering the unknown.

So, existing career guidance may well be past its sell-by date but careers development has never been more necessary.  The responsibility for that lies primarily with individuals but they need mentoring, facilitation services and an aspirational politico-social environment focused not on targets but on supporting individual growth for net collective benefit.

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Responses

  1. […] Careers, professionalism and education « Gillian’s Learning and Qualifications Blog learningandqualifications.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/careers-professionalism-and-education – view page – cached Bill Law and Rachel Mulvey yesterday evening kicked off the NICEC/CRAC debate entitled, Past its Sell-By Date? Career guidance for the 21st Century. People spoke with passion about the good that… (Read more)Bill Law and Rachel Mulvey yesterday evening kicked off the NICEC/CRAC debate entitled, Past its Sell-By Date? Career guidance for the 21st Century. People spoke with passion about the good that can be done – whether for fourteen year-olds, undergraduates or employed adults – but the broad consensus was that career guidance may not be dead but the sell-by sticker now needs a use-by date. (Read less) — From the page […]

  2. Hi

    I also blogged on this at http://adventuresincareerdevelopment.posterous.com/past-its-sell-by-date-career-guidance-for-the

    I think that you raise some interesting issues about the changing nature of work and how these are discussed/mediated through culture. We didn’t really get to talk about that kind of thing at the debate, which is a shame.

    I think that the question you raise about not feeling part of the professional grouping that Bill and Rachel discussed is a really interesting one. I felt that we needed to explore who the “we” was that kept being talked about much more. Is it just qualified careers advisers, or is it a much wider group of people involved in education, management, HR, youth work etc etc

    Lots more to think/talk about in the blogosphere…

    • Thanks, Tristram, for picking up on the point about informal/unrecognised careers advisors. The corpus of experience and opinion that may be accessed by people is enormous. As you say, more for the blogosphere….

  3. […] Is guidance past it’s sell-by date? 23 October 2009 Posted by David Winter in Uncategorized. Tags: guidance trackback Work commitments meant that I couldn’t attend the NICEC/CRAC debate Past its Sell-By Date? Career guidance for the 21st Century. However, there are a couple of blog posts from people who were there: Tristram Hooley and Gillian. […]

    • Thanks, David. It’s a global debate so the more the merrier!

  4. Hi Gillian

    I wish I could have been there – it sounds quite thought provoking.

    I would describe myself as a careers guidance professional, and as someone involved in training other career practitioners I am constantly asking questions about guidance:
    What is it?
    What should it be?
    How does it meet the needs of career decision makers?
    How does it need to change and what needs to be preserved and protected?

    Career practitioners, educators and researchers need to be asking these questions all the time and coming up with interesting answers. Otherwise, people with less knowledge and understanding will ask these questions and come up with stupid answers.

    David

    P.S. Any chance you could give full citations for your references – I do like to follow things up!
    I’m in complete agreement with your final paragraph.

    • Hi David – will certainly dig out the fuller citations. Am up to my neck in an outcomes:existing-programme grid at the moment but will get to it, promise!


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