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An introduction to the purpose and work of the Careers Profession Alliance (CPA)

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Careers Profession Alliance
14 March 2011


The Careers Profession in the UK is characterised by its diversity. Providers of career development services offer a distinctive range of services and products designed to meet the needs of a diverse range of users, whose ages, circumstances and requirements vary enormously.

In May 2010 representatives of the leading careers professional associations across the UK came together, supported by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), to develop new approaches to increase professionalism within and across the careers sector. A ‘Careers Colloquium’ was established which from January 2011 is formally now known as the ‘Careers Profession Alliance’, or CPA for short.

 The Careers Profession Alliance is an overarching body that comprises leading careers professional associations in the four home countries of the UK. It aims to develop and promote a code of ethical principles and professional standards across the UK to which all careers professionals should work. This will provide all those who offer career development services and related products with a clear and simple set of criteria to assess and continuously improve the quality of their work. Their widespread use will also enable clients to make judgements about the quality of the services and products they receive. The Careers Profession Alliance will provide government and others with a single voice on these issues making a positive impact on education, employment and community development policies and practices.

The six Careers Professional Associations currently involved represent over 7,500 members working in a wide range of public, private, voluntary and community settings, but the Alliance will welcome additional members from organisations with similar roles and commitment within the UK.


The UK Commission for Employment and Skills highlighted an urgent need to ‘transform the quality and availability of information, advice and guidance on career and learning opportunities’. However, over the last two decades, careers services have undergone a series of major changes, leaving many weakened, and in some cases, making it difficult for the public to know where to turn for impartial, formal or informal career development support. There is a need to bring coherence to standards, qualifications and career progression frameworks for all those providing careers services and products to the general public. The careers profession is highly complex given this includes workers in public, private and third sector organisations, as well as a wide range of people in non career development specialist roles. This complexity makes it difficult to identify a clear professional grouping and makes the assurance of quality standards and professionalism a major challenge.


The Careers Profession Alliance has taken major steps to improve communication within and between its member associations and with policymakers. So far, it has produced:

  • a vision and mission statement, which we shared with Ministers and Government Officials in England;
  • a paper for Ministers and Government Officials which describes the benefits of careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) to individuals, business/employers, learning organisations, communities and the economy;
  • a draft Common Code of Ethical Principles; and
  • a Primer that describes what steps it will take from 14th January 2011 to 31st March 2011.

Dame Ruth Silver CBE (Chair of the Careers Profession Taskforce in England) welcomed this new professional formation. She commented: ‘The Task Force has been in inspired by the ambitions and determination of this group to take responsibility for the stature of their work in the lives of our people. They gave us the confidence to ask them to take the leadership of their standards and ethics. We look forward to the outcome. We know it will happen.’

In November 2010, Ruth Spellman OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, was formally appointed as the CPA Chairperson. Her inaugural meeting with the CPA Executive Group members was on 18th January 2011 in London. 

In early January 2011, the CPA received confirmation from Government officials in DBIS & DfE (England) of some available funds to support the CPA's implementation of key recommendations arising from the Careers Profession Taskforce. Ruth Miller of Miller Morgan Consulting Limited was appointed as the Work Programme Manager to lead on the following six strands of work between 14th January 2011 and 31st March 2011:

  • Development of common professional standards;
  • Development of a career progression framework;
  • Development of a plan for progress to Level 6 profession;
  • Review initial training;
  • Review Continual Professional Development;
  • Make progress towards an overarching national kite-mark.
Further detail on all of the above strands of work are available in separate clouds within this cloudscape.

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