Enhancing national career information
Career development in Australia made an encouraging move forward in May 2013, when the Australian Government released the National Career Development Strategy. The Strategy is a guiding framework for the delivery of career-development policy, services and resources, emphasising collaboration among stakeholders and a whole-of-life approach to career development.
Australia's current labour market is dynamic and shifting, creating both opportunities and constraints for its participants. To participate effectively in the labour market, individuals now need to be adaptive, future-oriented and holistic career managers, able to incorporate a range of individual and environmental factors into their decision-making processes. The Strategy will aim to address the current needs of Australians, through the collaborative effort of governments, business and industry, schools, and career-development practitioners, while also aiming to improve productivity in Australia.
As the first national strategy of its kind, the National Career Development Strategy has been well received. The Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) welcomed its release, mentioning its historical significance for the career industry in this country and applauding the funding under the Strategy. In a media release, CDAA National President, Andrew Rimington, said '[CDAA] are very pleased with the Government's recognition of the importance of career development and the need to guide Australians on their journey through their life and work…' (Maisel 2013).
This report summarises aspects of the National Career Development Strategy, with a particular focus on enhancements being made to national career information that are of interest to the schooling community. In Australia, this area is delivered through myfuture, Australia's national, online career-information and exploration service. myfuture is a central component of the Australian Government's role in the implementation of the Strategy, in collaboration with state and territory governments.
Career development in Australia has long been situated in a school context, with the aim of supporting young people to transition from school to work or to post-secondary education and training. However, changes in the world of work over the last two decades have resulted in a need for an 'all-ages' approach to policies, services and resources that support whole-of-life career development. This focus underpins the National Career Development Strategy.
Individuals entering the labour market today are predicted to make on average ten career changes in their working lifetime. This is increasing the number of transition points throughout an individual's life and career. The National Career Development Strategy identifies five key points:
Under the Strategy, myfuture is being updated to reflect the overarching all-ages approach to career development. Once updated, the service will reflect the needs and expectations of individuals facing multiple key career-transition points.
Research undertaken as part of the National Career Development Strategy revealed a need to increase young people's opportunities to engage in vocational learning experiences (DEEWR 2012, p 11). In particular, young people need to be able '…to communicate directly with someone in an industry they are interested in exploring' (DEEWR 2013, p 2).
The Strategy incorporates this need through a key enhancement to myfuture, the myfuture Forum. The Forum provides valuable learning experiences based on real-world perspectives, by enabling young people to obtain access to someone working in an occupation or industry they are interested in. Additional measures to increase young people's exposure to the world of work and vocational learning experiences have been incorporated into the National Career Development Strategy.
The National Career Development Strategy includes the goal of ensuring all individuals have the ability to build the skills, knowledge and competencies necessary to manage their career successfully. The Strategy suggests that '[a] focus on developing skills in young people from as early as primary school will lay down the foundations for a future when all Australians are equipped throughout their lives to make confident and successful decisions about their careers' (DEEWR 2013, p 9).
Australia already has in place the Australian Blueprint for Career Development (the Blueprint), which identifies 11 career-management competencies. These are grouped into three core learning areas.
Integral to building the competencies listed in the Blueprint are executive functions. Executive functions are the cognitive processes that enable individuals to stop and take control of their lives. They also support individuals' ability to effectively use career information, by controlling and directing human thought and action (Westwell and Panizzon 2011). For career information to be effective, young people need to be able '…to use it to direct their immediate actions toward a goal that lies far beyond the here-and-now' (Westwell and Panizzon 2011, p 3). If an individual does not have strong executive-function ability, this can impair their ability to direct their thought and action to an appropriate career choice or goal.
Executive functions are increasingly being seen as an area requiring strategic educational intervention. Enhancements to myfuture will incorporate executive-function tasks to support users through their career management. Parents can also support young people during early, adolescent and young adult periods to support the growth of the skills, knowledge and competencies they need to make sound career choices. Parents need access to career information and resources that will support and encourage informal engagement with their children.
The National Career Development Strategy promotes multiple opportunities for collaboration to optimise delivery of career-development services across the country. In the public sector, relevant policy is set for a whole-of-government approach, as the wider benefits of career-development services are being realised in the education, workforce development, productivity and social-inclusion agendas. The Australian Government will also continue to collaborate with state and territory governments in the delivery of national career information.
Industry can also collaborate with the Government to help develop national career information. The Strategy states, 'industry participation…in the provision of career (and especially labour market) information…will help to ensure that this information is coordinated and aligned with industry needs' (DEEWR 2013, p 8). Industry is a strong source of information about the labour market and internal industry dynamics. This up-to-date source of information enables direct industry sources to provide input into the ongoing improvement of national career information to increase its relevance and value for individuals who require assistance in the workforce.
The Australian Government will continue to provide career information and resources to the schooling community throughout the implementation of the National Career Development Strategy. It will facilitate research and projects that will further identify and guide additional enhancements to national career information. These ongoing enhancements will ensure an information service exists to provide 'access to support for career development in a consistent way across the country, for individuals and for those who support or influence career choices' (DEEWR 2013, p.11). Young people will be able develop vocational learning, education and training exploration, and career-building competencies that enhance their ability to manage their career.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2013). National career development strategy. Canberra, Australia: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Commonwealth of Australia.
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2012). National career development strategy green paper. Canberra, Australia: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Commonwealth of Australia.
Maisel, J. (2013). CDAA applauds historic investment in career development. Adelaide, Australia: Career Development Association of Australia.
Westwell, M., & Panizzon, D. (2011). Cognitive neuroscience: implications for career development strategies and interventions. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Commonwealth of Australia.