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re-making careers-work partnerships

Everybody accepts the need for partnerships in enabling career management.  Careers-guidance...

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Bill Law
16 March 2010

Everybody accepts the need for partnerships in enabling career management.  Careers-guidance people work with other helpers.  The partnership agreements between guidance and careers education embed links between work and learning.

These are bi-lateral agreements.  And I’m doubtful about the usefulness of such two-handers.  I don’t believe they offer enough of a grip on the kind of careers work that we now need to develop.

The more we catch up with what is happening in contemporary careers the more we realise this.  It is a long time since anyone believed that  careers work means finding suitable ‘holes’ for a willing ‘pegs’.  And, these days, there is a lot more going on than we have yet properly taken into account.

Attitudes to work are changing.  People can see their lives in a broader scope - where work-and-learning must be balanced with what family, friends, and neighbourhood ask of them.  And so, how they care for their children, or what they buy on the mall, may say more than their work about how they want to be understood. 

These are broadly quality-of-life, rather than narrowly vocational, concerns.  And, in dealing with them, people are finding more ways of finding out about the possibilities and for working out what they might do about them.  For some, these concerns extend to wondering what work-life is doing to the developing world, and to the sustainability of the environment.

All of this changes the way we need to talk about work-life.  It certainly needs more from curriculum than conventional careers education is in any position to offer.  It also needs  a wider range of partnerships in the community.  Multi-lateral partnerships do not undermine the concept of career, nor do they diminish the importance of our expertise: they locate both in a more contemporary discourse.

New  developments in curriculum, children’s trusts, social enterprise, voluntary agencies and community groups are already engaged.  There is a lot of useful knowledge and experience out there.  Multi-lateral partnerships draw on it

They re-locate our work in ways which are more credible, accessible and useful to clients and students.  They need it of us. 

But it is also in our interests.  We have expended a lot of energy on trying to influence policy.  But policy is more likely to listen to its constituents than to us.  And re-locating our work, so that we are able to mobilise a range of help, promises more for our future position in society than we have ever been able to claim in our past.

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