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The fifth International Symposium for Career Development and Public Policy was held in New Zealand in November 2009. These symposia began in 2000 and build on reviews by the World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of career development and public policy, together with outcomes from previous symposia in Canada, Scotland and Australia.

Symposium participation is by invitation and each country selects a 'country team' covering policy, career practice, education, economics, research and so on. Twenty-four countries attended this symposium along with a range of international organisations.

Australia has been a significant contributor at every symposium and hosted the 2006 symposium in Sydney, which was funded by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and organised by CICA. Three delegates were selected by DEEWR to attend the fifth symposium and I was fortunate to be one of them along with Fiona McDonald (DEEWR) and Alan Bevan (education.au).

The symposium considered four themes: 'Prove it Works', 'Culture Counts', 'Transformational Technology' and the 'Role of the Citizen'. At the conclusion of discussions, each country was encouraged to develop action plans in relation to the theme areas.

Australia compares well with other countries in terms of career service provision particularly for initial transitions, but less so for adult career services. Australia's National Partnership Agreement on Youth Attainment and Transitions was generally consistent with initiatives in a number of other countries (e.g., the United Kingdom, France). Several countries that have gone down this path commented (most notably Canada) on the importance of maintaining and strengthening the national focus along with a strengthening of state and territory delivery systems to avoid a fracturing of service delivery.

The symposium reaffirmed the importance of career practitioner organisations and experts as significant contributors to career-related policy development, implementation and outcomes. It was noted that Australia has developed a strong model of consultation with the sector particularly through CICA.

Proving career guidance works was a priority for many delegations and all countries were encouraged to strengthen evidence collection to maximise outcomes for individuals and achievement of policy outcomes. CICA is working towards establishing a Centre for Career Development in 2010 to contribute to this agenda in Australia.

There were also important discussions on cultural diversity and how effective career development practice must be informed by different cultural contexts. It was highlighted that career programs need to be culturally safe. As one speaker indicated, 'one size fits one'. Career information needs to be not only factually correct but also culturally relevant. It's a big task.

The challenge on the table is to move from a 'remedying deficit' to a 'realising potential' approach. The former implies the target group is the problem. The New Zealand approach, for example, is to see all Maori as having potential, culturally advantaged and inherently capable. This perspective can influence the design and outcome of career programs not only for Maori but for all.

Also of interest was the important facilitation role being played by groups such as the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network. It is a model that could be adapted for Australia. In our region, an excellent outcome of the symposium was the establishment of a Pacific careers network consisting of Pacific Island nations. CICA will monitor and support this network in 2010.

The importance of technology to enhance but not replace human service delivery was emphasised. Countries were encouraged to enhance the training of career practitioners in integrating technology into their practice and to actively involve end-users (especially young people) in the design of e-services.

Note: the 24 participating countries attending the fifth symposium were Austria, Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Qatar, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Snippets

National Careers Help-line Trial Extended to June 2010

The value of career help-lines in England, Scotland and New Zealand has been proven. The Australian trial will now continue to June. Its effectiveness will depend on how well the help-line is marketed. Initially the service was difficult to find (see <http://www. keepaustraliaworking.gov.au/pages/Welcome.aspx>).

Recently I received this marketing information from DEEWR. This approved descriptor of the service is factual while not exactly engaging. Please use this resource and let your clients know that it is available. All of the careers advisers are qualified and meet CICA's professional standards.
   Keep Australia Working is the Government's strategy
   to protect jobs and support business for today, and
   for the future. The new Keep Australia Working
   service provides access to information for job seekers,
   employers and Australians whose employment has
   been affected by the global recession.

      The website allows job seekers to access detailed
   information about programs and initiatives that can
   help them find work, or find support if they have lost
   their job. The information provided on the website
   can also assist employers to re-train and retain
   workers in the current economic climate.

      Telephone support is also available, which can
   provide personalised assisted service to individuals to
   guide them through the range of initiatives available.
   Eligible individuals can also access professional
   Career Advice. Translation and TTY assistance is
   also available.

      Visit www.keepaustraliaworking.gov.au or call
   131764 for further information.


Parental Engagement Starts Early

One of the downsides of the culling of some Commonwealth programs such as the Lighthouse Schools project is that cutting-edge ideas will be more difficult to implement. At the recent Career Education Association Victoria conference in Geelong, a program titled 'Secondary Schools and Beyond' was targeted at primary school parents. It is an interesting concept to engage parents in career development at a time when children are making a transition from primary school to high school. The program was run by Mordialloc College with assistance from Youth Connect. They found that parents were particularly anxious to make a good decision about which school would be best for their child. The program did not recommend one school over another but looked at the range of factors impacting on the decision. Parents also valued the opportunity to discuss options with other parents in a context in which career expertise was readily available. The outcome was engaged parents and informed decisions. The program is extremely low cost and highly effective.

Work--An Opportunity for Discovering and Shaping; The Place where Self Meets the World

There are many influences impacting on career development practice but poetry is not often seen as one of them. Over the summer I read a remarkable book by David Whyte (Crossing the unknown sea) in which he articulates the above definition of work. For example, he comments on the poet William Blake's idea of fulfilment in work: 'to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at the exact same time'. He discusses the notion that:
   it has always taken courage to follow a unique and
   individual path exactly, because making our own
   path takes us off the path, in directions which seem
   profoundly unsafe. A pilgrimage into the night and
   the night wind.

   And in response to Keats's early death, Whyte says:

   In work as in life, we must contemplate the loss of
   everything in order to know what we have to give;
   it is the essence of writing, the essence of working,
   the essence of living; an essence that we look for by
   hazarding our best gifts in the world, and in that
   perspective all of us are young and have the possibilities
   of the young until our last breath goes out.


Guiding Circles

Gray Pohenell will be a speaker at the Career Development Association of Australia conference in Adelaide in April. His use of active engagement, creativity and imagination in working with Indigenous communities is highly regarded. He notes that diversity is increasing and many of the values of career development are reflective of the world of business and are less about values such as land identity. He advocates new starting points--hope-filled engagement--engaging where the person is engaged in life. Gray has useful tools for practitioners and his model helps clients to understand their broader connections and to develop strategies for reconnection. The conference is on from 7 to 9 April at the Adelaide Hilton.

Pathways and Prospects

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research's four-year study of young people's pathway and career experiences investigates how young people make career choices and the meaning of different pathways to them, including how they deal with discontinuity, indecision and 'changes of heart'.

There are 114 participants in the study. They are asked to tell their stories of decision making, youth-adult relations, concepts of career and work--life balance and wider life aspirations.

Young people are grouped into four clusters: hopeful reactors, confident explorers, anxious seekers and passion honers. The research highlights the need for strengthening curricula to engage students and raises questions such as 'What does a proper transition look like?'

The report from the study noted:
   If we want policies to be better aligned with young
   people's actual priorities and needs, we need to move
   away from pathways and navigations within a simple
   model of transition-to-labour market to something
   that takes account of identity production and career
   as process.


The report stated:
   It is vital to look beyond the surface because measuring
   the face-value instances of activities is not
   enough to understand the meaning that young people
   make of those activities and their role in their lives.
   Young people emphasise process in transition. In doing
   so, they disrupt some commonly held assumptions
   about security and exploration motivations and
   behaviours. Understanding identity and career production
   is therefore not only an acknowledgement
   of career as process (Wijers & Meijers, 1996), but also
   an acknowledgement that career development is
   for a society where the roles of learner and worker
   continue to change. (Vaughan, K., Roberts, J., &
   Gardiner, B. (2006). Young people producing careers
   and identities: The first report from the Pathways and
   Prospects project. New Zealand: NZCER.)


The full report is available at <http://www.nzcer. org.nz/default.php ?products_id=1700>.

CONTACT Peter Tatham with news entries for this section by 9 April for the winter issue at <peter@ tatham.com.au>. Entries should be no longer than 100 words, and may be edited for space reasons.
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Author:Tatham, Peter
Publication:Australian Journal of Career Development
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 24, 2010
Words:1713
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