Career guidance

The ETF works with EU neighbouring and Central Asian countries to further develop national career development support systems following a structured and systematic approach (…). The strong interlinkages between career development support, lifelong learning and the requirement of all countries to ensure quality education outcomes, economic outcomes, and social outcomes highlights the relevance of career development support and makes the case for its prioritisation. Lifelong career guidance and counselling, career education, and career development support for workers in formal and informal contexts are catalysts for policies aiming at economic growth, social equity, and innovation closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Career development support systems cover a wide variety of services and activities:

Lifelong career guidance which refers to services intended to support individuals of any age and their families and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers (career management skills). Career guidance can include skills assessments, advice, information, development of job search skills, mentoring, counselling, networking, job placement and career education and be delivered face-to-face, at a distance or in a blended setting.

Career education which refers to well organised and structured learning activities offered by schools, public employment services, NGOs, social partners, universities, adult learning institutions or community based services aimed at developing individuals’ career management skills, covering self-learning, building of capacities to identify and interpret labour market information as well as learning and career opportunities, make learning and career decisions, plans and act upon them. It is highlighted particularly because it is a key tool to provide access to career guidance to all young people in mandatory education and beyond in education and training.

Career development support for workers which refers to

  • support for the formally employed in the formal economy: human resource management activities aimed at developing career management skills of employees, with the purpose of supporting individual skill development and training, skills utilisation, productivity, innovation and smart specialisation, and promoting strategic staff planning and development. It frequently relies on activities such as career talks, assessments, establishment of personal plans but also includes enabling a company environment for lifelong learning.
  • support for workers in the informal economy: The informal economy comprises more than half of the global labour force and more than 90% of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) worldwide. Many individuals working in the informal economy are unaware of the possibilities they may have to access qualifications, decent work and benefit from social protection. This is also the case of many rural populations and individuals performing domestic work, particularly women. Outreach initiatives and partnerships that mobilize national, sectoral and local actors, are key to meet the needs of these workers. Given the large number of Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) with limited resources for this task, the role of social partners is to be leveraged to support MSMEs inter alia by providing skills needs assessments and forecasting (for sectors), facilitating cooperation with adult learning and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions for continuous professional development, also tapping into formalisation of non-formal and informal learning at the workplace and the recognition of prior learning.
  • support to the self-employed: With the changing nature of work, including less standard company contexts, and increasing independent employment (freelancing, contract work, platform work), and the related internationalisation of work and education, services are needed for a growing group of self-employed. These services, still not well defined in many countries, tend to integrate or coordinate learning incentives, financial and business counselling and career guidance.

Key reference points in the area of career development include:

CareersNet (CEDEFOP)

CareersNet was established by Cedefop to monitor policy developments and innovative practices in EU, EFTA/EEA and EU candidate countries and to improve Cedefop’s tools. The network enables exchanges on guidance systems, quality assurance, co-ordination and strategies, creating knowledge for the evidence base on monitoring and evaluation methods, and the results of guidance. It integrates national career development experts. The network has developed an EU+ inventory database on lifelong policy career guidance systems and policies and a methodology for system monitoring assessment and evaluation.

European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network

The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network was an EU-member state-led network supported by the European Commission from 2007 to 2015. It promoted co-operation at Member State level in implementing the priorities identified in the EU Resolutions on Lifelong Guidance (2004; 2008) and supported Member States in their national lifelong guidance activities, policies, strategies and services. Its website presents a wide range of publications including tools for policy and systems development for lifelong guidance such as EU Guidelines, quality assurance and evidence collection frameworks, glossary and career management skills concept notes that remain relevant for policy, systems, and practice development.


Euroguidance supports the competence development of the guidance community on the European dimension of lifelong guidance. Euroguidance is a European network of national resource and information centres for guidance in 34 European countries. Its main target group consists of guidance practitioners in education and employment, among them professionals who provide information and guidance on international learning mobility to end-users seeking studying and training opportunities abroad.

International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG)

The International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG) was established in 1951. The organisation aims to provide global leadership in, and advocacy for, careers guidance by promoting ethical, socially just, and best practices throughout the world so that educational and vocational guidance and counselling is available to all citizens from competent and qualified practitioners. The IAEVG oversees an annual international conference and publication of the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance.

International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy (ICCDPP)

The International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy (ICCDPP) was established in 2004 with the support of the OECD, the World Bank, European Commission, the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, and of national governments to promote international policy sharing and learning for career guidance. Its website is a collection of career guidance policy and systems development documents and reports from international organizations and countries. ICCDPP organizes International Symposia on Career Development and Public Policy on a bi-ennial basis, bringing together policymakers, researchers and practitioners. Thematic and country papers, proceedings, and outcomes of the international symposia are viewable on the website. ICCDPP publishes free monthly emails on career guidance policy and systems developments.

Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA)

APCDA is a forum for sharing career development ideas and practices in the Asia Pacific region and engaging the world about these insights. APCDA connects career development professionals who work in or are interested in the Asia Pacific region and provides a global forum for sharing career development ideas, research, and techniques that are effective in the Asia Pacific region.