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. In 2022, the ETF reviewed the state of career development support systems in 10 of its partner countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine, and produced two regional reports – Western Balkans and Eastern EuropeThe strong interlinkages between career development support, lifelong learning and the requirement of all countries to ensure quality education, economic, and social outcomes highlight the relevance of career development support and make 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.

Lifelong career guidance refers to services intended to support individuals of any age and their families 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 refers to well-organised learning activities aimed at developing individuals’ career management skills. Offered by schools, public employment services, NGOs, social partners, universities, adult learning institutions or community-based services, they cover self-learning, capacity building to identify and interpret labour market information, as well as learning and career opportunities, learning and career decision making. It is a key tool to provide young people in mandatory education and beyond with access to career guidance.

Career development support

  • for the employed workers in the formal economy – Refers to activities aimed at developing employee career management skills to support individual skill development and training, skills utilisation, productivity, innovation and smart specialisation, and promote strategic staff planning and development. It frequently relies on activities such as career talks, assessments, establishment of personal plans but also includes enabling company environments for lifelong learning.
  • for workers in the informal economy (which comprises more than half of the global labour force and more than 90% of micro and small enterprises worldwide) – Workers in the informal economy are often unaware of their possibilities to access qualifications, decent work and benefit from social protection. This is also the case for rural populations and individuals performing domestic work, particularly women. Initiatives and partnerships that mobilise 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 with limited resources, the role of social partners is to be leveraged to support these enterprises, for example in providing skills needs assessments and forecasting, facilitating cooperation with adult learning and vocational education and training institutions for continuing professional development, also tapping into the formalisation of non-formal and informal learning at the workplace and the recognition of prior learning.
  • for 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 number of self-employed. These services (to be further defined in many countries) tend to integrate or coordinate learning incentives, financial and business counselling and career guidance.

Key resources

  • CareersNet Cedefop’s network of experts in lifelong career guidance and career development was created to monitor policy developments and innovative practices in the EU, EFTA/EEA and EU candidate countries. The network enables exchanges on career guidance systems, including topics such as quality assurance, coordination and strategies, monitoring and evaluation. The network has developed an EU+ inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices and a methodology for system monitoring assessment and evaluation.
  • European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network An EU Member State-led network supported by the European Commission from 2007 to 2015. It promoted cooperation 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 and resources.
  • Euroguidance A European network of national resource and information centres for guidance in 34 European countries. The network supports the competence development of the guidance community. Its main target consists of guidance practitioners in education and employment, including professionals who provide information and guidance on international learning mobility to end-users seeking study and training opportunities abroad.
  • International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance Established in 1951, the Association 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. It oversees an annual international conference and publishes the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance.
  • International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy Established in 2004 with the support of the OECD, the World Bank, the European Commission, the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, and national governments to promote international policy sharing and learning for career guidance. Its website provides career guidance policy and systems development documents and reports from international organisations and countries. The Centre organises the International Symposia on Career Development and Public Policy on a biennial basis, bringing together policymakers, researchers and practitioners.
  • Asia Pacific Career Development Association The Association connects career development professionals working or interested in the Asia Pacific region and provides a global forum for sharing career development ideas, research, and practices effective in the region.
  • IAG Global Careers Month establishing a global community linking policy, research and practice.