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Career Development: moving forward together.

The recent International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy, held in Sydney in April 2006, was a fruitful experience for all involved. More importantly, it was indicative of the level of maturity that the career industry has attained in Australia. The symposium brought together international colleagues from around the world for what proved to be very productive discussions resulting in individual country action plans and a collaboratively developed communique, published in this edition of the AJCD. Australia's adept management of the event demonstrated that this country has made considerable progress in the area of career development, particularly since the 2002 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Review of Career Guidance Policies.

These are exciting times for career development in Australia. More than ever before, governments and non-government stakeholders are working collaboratively to develop and implement national career development policy. The Australian Government has been a significant player in these initiatives, committing substantial funding to the vision of improving the quality and availability of career services for all Australians. The Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA) has pro-actively contributed to policy development and has been integral to the implementation of several of the resulting projects. The enthusiasm and goodwill of all players has been critical to the impressive outcomes achieved.


In response to recommendations of the OECD review, the Australian Government, through the Department of Education Science and Training (DEST), determined to encourage quality improvement in career service delivery. Following an extensive consultation process, the Professional Standards for Australian Career Development Practitioners were agreed by all CICA member associations in December 2005. For the first time in Australia, these standards describe agreed terminology, membership of the career development profession, a code of ethics, entry-level qualifications, continuing professional development and competency guidelines. The standards will be regarded as the minimum requirement fur career development practitioners from January 2012. Copies of the Professional Standards for Australian Career Development Practitioners are available from the CICA website (


In tandem with the development of professional standards, professional development opportunities for career practitioners have been expanded. A career elective for pre-service teachers was developed in 2005. Australian Career Development Studies (ACDS), available on the Internet (, offers opportunities for skills enhancement to anyone who helps others make career decisions. Flowing from this, a current DEST project will develop a nationally endorsed Certificate IV in Career Development, which will incorporate the three accredited units in Component Two of ACDS. The learning materials for all of these professional development opportunities are, or will be, freely available, and all contribute to the strengthening of the skills base of career practitioners and the quality of career services available to Australians of all ages. Scholarships for school career practitioners have also been introduced on an annual basis. These provide an opportunity for career teachers either to undertake study related to career development, or to participate in an industry placement. They have been enthusiastically received, indicating that career teachers are keen to develop their skills and that they are recognising the value in forging connections with industry. Information about the scholarships, including success stories from early recipients, is available at scholarships


The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) is supporting the development of a framework, the Australian Blueprint for Career Development (ABCD), designed to create, strengthen and evaluate career development programs and products for young people and adults. DEST is managing this process and has also provided additional funding. The ABCD details 11 competencies that support an individual's career development and provides a common language for career development initiatives, while allowing flexibility at the local level. It also contains processes for planning, implementing and evaluating career development programs and resources. The ABCD's primary aim is to have users work within a national framework to create comprehensive, effective and measurable career development programs. It is based on 15 years of developmental work in Canada and the US, and is being tested and refined during 2006 and 2007.


The Australian Government has extended its commitment to help young Australians make a smooth transition from school to further study or from school to work. The Government's 2005 budget commitment of an additional $143.2 million from 2005-36 to 2008-09 is, for the first time, providing a comprehensive national career and transition support network for all young Australians from 13 to 19 years. This commitment, announced as the Australian Network of Industry Careers Advisers, is now referred to as Career Advice Australia to provide a clear brand for the wide range of programs and services delivered by the Australian Government.

A key feature of the project is the promotion of Local Community Partnerships (LCPs), which are developing partnerships with industry and employer groups, schools, community organisations, parents, young people, youth service providers and other government organisations, and professional career advisers. These partnerships are designed to facilitate the provision of assistance to students and promote a range of initiatives and projects to help young people successfully manage this first transition and to equip them with career development skills for life.

Another initiative is the Australian Government's Career Education Lighthouse Schools. These are funded by the Australian Government to champion good practices in quality career education and trial new and innovative ways of implementing career education in schools. They show other secondary, primary, government and non-government schools how to make career education an integral part of every school's activities, not just an optional add-on to the formal curriculum. Many of the projects have involved the wider community in partnership with the schools, with flow-on benefits being felt both inside and outside the school boundaries. Some 70 Australian schools were involved in the 33 projects funded during 2005. Further information may be found at the Lighthouse Schools website ( The site includes links to the final reports from the schools involved in the 2005 projects.


We have made good progress in implementing over-arching initiatives that will benefit the career industry in terms of professionalism. We have also introduced important programs that will benefit young people. At the same time, however, sweeping social and economic change is creating new imperatives. The working age proportion of the population is on the decline, adults move between jobs more frequently, the importance of knowledge-based work has increased and the rate of technological change is also increasing. These trends highlight the growing importance of the provision of quality career development services for people of all ages. The focus of the International Symposium 2006 on the connections between career development and workforce development, with the inclusion of older workers and human capital as themes, underlines the importance of these trends, in Australia and internationally.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) recently acknowledged that improvements in workforce productivity and participation require continuing skills development from early childhood years, through school and working life, to retirement. COAG's new National Reform Agenda includes one stream focusing on human capital development. This has important implications for the future of career development in this country. The skills to manage one's life, learning and work are increasingly recognised as vital to developing human capital. People with these skills are more likely to: participate in lifelong learning;, be active in the community; make smooth transitions from education to work or between jobs; stay in work longer; and be happier and healthier. They are also less likely to need government services.


Career development in Australia seems to be a concept whose time has come. There have been catalytic events, such as the first two International Symposia on Career Development and Public Policy in Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada in 1999 and 2001 respectively, the 2002 OECD Review of Career Guidance Policies, and the subsequent establishment of the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy. Along with the international developments in career development signalled by these events, there has also been an upsurge of energy and commitment at home. The wellspring of this creative energy may well be the productive collaboration between DEST, CICA, CICA's member organisations and other stakeholders. Whatever the origins, the result is a greatly strengthened career sector, a united purpose and a solid foundation on which to base the future of Australian career development policy and practice.


Miles Morgan Australia. (2003). Australian Blueprint for Career Development. Retrieved July 28, 2004, from

Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD). {2004), Career guidance and public policy: Bridging The gap. Retrieved July 3, 2006, from


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Title Annotation:CAREERS FORUM
Author:Coughran, Jen
Publication:Australian Journal of Career Development
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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