Career Guidance in a Post-Pandemic World
Career guidance is an essential tool for policymakers seeking to tackle the challenges facing global labour markets in the post-pandemic world, a joint European Training Foundation (ETF) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) online conference heard Wednesday. (Oct 27)
People need supportive career guidance and development systems more than ever before, ETF Director, Cesare Onestini said in a keynote opening speech at the “Career Development Support at the Heart of Lifelong Learning Systems” event.
From school-to-work transition to lifelong learning, finding a job and steering a way through working lives where people may switch not only jobs but sectors as the world adapts to the digital revolution and climate change, career guidance must become central to the reform of education and training systems around the world.
“Jobs are changing faster, and across the board – and there are more learning opportunities and options, making a daunting choice,” Mr Onestini said. “It is difficult to know how job markets are moving in front of us.”
A focus on structural and national career support systems is now more necessary than ever, in a world where lifelong learning will increasingly be the norm for everyone: “Making career choices now accompanies the lifelong learning perspective we are building into our learning societies,” he emphasised.
Accompanying the labour market “paradigm shift” by revamping career support was central to the vision shared by the ETF and ILO, which together with the Inter-agency TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) group, have produced a report on how to support system-level approaches, and would continue to work in this area,” Mr Onestini concluded.
“We need to see how we can make career enriching choices throughout our working lives.”
Srinivas Reddy, the ILO’s Chief of Skills and Employability Branch, emphasised that career development could play a “key role in bringing forward a better new model [of labour market participation] after the COVID pandemic.”
Many people around the world will need to reskill to remain employed in the post-pandemic world, with people changing not only jobs but sectors, and career support would assume new importance in guiding this process.
Understanding successful pathways and finding new jobs will need special support, particularly for those in sectors most affected by great job losses,” Mr Reddy said.
“Young people will need to understand what their future will be, and they need a long-term career strategy in uncertain labour markets.”
Tim Noonan, Director of Campaigns and Communications, at ITUC, the International Trade Union Confederation, talked of both crisis and opportunity as the world faced up to the challenges of global warming on the eve of the COP26 UN international climate change conference.
There is a need to accelerate action [to combat climate change] up to 2030 that requires solidarity globally, determination and investment in decarbonisation and infrastructure,” he noted. “This means lots of jobs. The pathway to net carbon zero must be jobs rich. Career guidance and development is crucial – there is little point in training lots of people without this.”
Technology and change had historically always driven an expansion of the labour market, but that was a choice, not a given, Mr Noonan stressed.
“We need to enable people to develop their skills and take up the new jobs emerging; for this lifelong learning and career development are absolutely vital.”
Attention must also be paid to the injustices “brutally exposed” by the pandemic – which had cost the lives of 100,000 care workers and the jobs of 100 million people, mostly women, worldwide, he added.
Murielle Antille, of the International Organisation for Employers, said that changes to career guidance systems needed “to happen with people, and not to people.”
Drawing distinctions between career guidance and career coaching (used by employers to change or enhance roles for existing workers), she added:
“Career orientation is like a hike, equipping a hiker well with proper kit - that won’t get them to their destination; they need a map and a compass too, particularly if the environment is as foggy as it is these days. It is about helping the hiker to be more resilient.”
Anthony Mann, of the OECD’s Inter Agency Group for Career Guidance, introduced a new publication “Investing in Career Guidance” that “summarises the arguments for why investing in career guidance is probably now more important than it has ever been.”
Panel discussion contributors described some of the changes taking place in career guidance internationally, including the introduction of career guidance as part of the school curriculum in Vietnam, the establishment of national career research and development centres in South Korea, and the introduction of careers advice vouchers in Belgium, which had driven both a boom in advisors and new standards in quality.
Contributors to a panel highlighting the view of donors and social partners, included observations such as that of Brajesh Panth, Chief of Education Sector Group, at the Asian Development Bank, who spoke of the need to invest in bringing large areas of employment in from the informal to formal sectors, and Alison Crabb, Head of Unit Skills Agenda at the EC’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, who said career development strategies should be embedded within wider policy areas, including the reskilling and upskilling programmes across the EU like the Youth Guarantee Scheme.
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