6th International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy

Below you will find links to the official Communiqué and Reflection Note emerging from the 6th International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy, held December 5-7, 2011 in Hungary.  You’ll also find links to a Briefing Note prepared for senior policy representatives of Departments of Employment/Labour from across Canada and the Team Canada Action Plan for 2012-2013. You can find specific country papers, theme syntheses, photos and other related documents on the Symposium website.

With 32 countries participating, the dialogue was rich and important.

Some highlights/insights from Team Canada:

In many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, countries have achieved what we thought was our ultimate goal – i.e. they have national forums focused on lifelong career development, have career development embedded in policy and have citizen entitlement to career services safeguarded in legislation.  BUT… they are now realizing that this is no guarantee for funding of career guidance services, that the policy will be implemented or that citizens will access that to which they are theoretically entitled. For example,Irelanddeveloped an exemplary policy framework lauded as an international model – which has been shelved since 2007 due to a lack of political will to implement.  Likewise inIreland, students have a legislated entitlement to guidance services, but recent budget constraints mean that those services are now being eliminated.  It seems to me that we may want to explore approaches to counteract this vulnerability:

  • Can we position career guidance as an investment rather than a cost to government?  Can we position our services as a strategic tool to government that will help them to achieve their goals, rather than a budget drain? Likewise, can we position ourselves similarly with employers/industry – as a valuable resource rather than being nebulous, misunderstood or simply off the radar?  InQatar, there is a 20 year vision for and commitment to career guidance, supported in policy and financially by government and industry partners.
  • Are there models for economically sustainable policy – i.e. policy which builds the funding for sustainability right into the policy? Cyprus, theNetherlandsandSouth Africaall have employer tolls/payroll taxes which contribute to a national fund for training and development.
  • Can we better harness and extend the influence of supra-national organizations?  Countries noted that the OECD review process was a significant catalyst nationally.  The ELGPN continues to national influence progress with respect to policy, funding and implementation.  Can the OECD be re-ignited?  Can an “ILGPN” be formed (International Lifelong Guidance Policy Network) – or can the work of the ELGPN incorporate non-Eurpoean countries in some way?

A number of national professional association representatives participated in the Symposium.  We met to explore the possibility of establishing an informal international network of associations – a forum for exchanging ideas, collaborating on common issues/concerns and sharing resources/approaches.  There was real enthusiasm among participants, recognizing that associations around the world are facing similar challenges and could benefit from each other’s experience, practical resources, failures, successes and innovations.

Virtually every country around the world struggles with the „public image” of career development – we all stumble over our language and have difficulty speaking about what we do in terms that excites, compels and impresses the public (and, by extension, employers, policy makers and funders).  If Canada could crack this one, it would be a significant step forward both here and around the world!