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the future of the careers profession

what future for the careers profession - established facts, pressing issues & future possibilities

Cloud created by:

Bill Law
9 December 2014

posing questions & probing answers
set out on 5th December 2014 by...

Bill Law
The Career-learning Café

getting ready for action - by...

  1. ...bringing things up-to-date
  2. ...identifying influential factors
  3. ...facing up to direction-changing dynamics
  4. ...looking at what this means in people’s lives
  5. ...figuring out what to do about it

'as a careers worker would any of this suggest priority for action?'



1. bringing things up to date - the headings…

  • matching self to work
  • linking self-to-work - with ideas taken from psychology & economics
  • community interaction
  • attachments - with ideas taken from sociology & cultural theory
  • career learning
  • navigating complexity & change - with ideas taken from critical thinking & creativity
  • narrative thinking
  • drawing on experience - identity as memory - with thinking taken from neurology



needs probing 

'an individual can usefully be matched to a job but that individual is also a mother worried about her daughter & with a son under over-controlling pressure from her boyfriend' 

'the clients of any careers service at any stage in life will have people seeking to cope with such issues - but they may not feel it appropriate to say anything in a "careers" interview' 

'matching has been made more subtle with personal-construct thinking calling on significant memories of past experience - but it's still psychological matching' 

'a culture is about the beliefs values & expectations that get embedded in memory' 

'a shared culture can cause bright people to do silly things & good people to do bad things' 

'a narrative sets down one thing leading to another - with other people - & more than one way of seeing things'

'a human brain has more than one way of remembering - for short-term reference - for long-term understanding - & for life-changing episodes' 

'emotional intelligence is not always intelligent - though immediately welling-up fight-or-flight emotions can be usefully impulsive - but some emotions become settled feelings for what happens & is felt to be worth doing' 

'who we are as a person is formed by what we hold onto & what we let go among those personal-&-social memories & feelings'



2. influential factors - the headings…

  • shareholder
  • stakeholder - in institutions & communities - for community property
  • government
  • too big - too small - erosion of deference
  • commerce
  • global & local - movement of wealth
  • 'growthism'
  • ‘creative destruction’ - from the personal to the planetary


needs probing 

'some labour-market information is not good news for careers-work clients - & some is misrepresented' 

 'an independent careers service engages clients in how to deal with the bad-news & misleading "information" about labour markets' 

'the appearance of the career politician brings about the limp politics of self advancement - it has caused a not-entirely-fair distrust of all politicians' 

'national governments are too high up & too far away to grasp how lives are lived locally - & are too big for issues that affect local career prospects' 

'national governments lack leverage to deal with planetary matters such as cross-border crime & global commerce & planetary well-being - & are too small to manage work & education in a global setting' 

'stakeholder interest in careers work can range from the personal such as "do work opportunities allow people to take good care of their children?" - some "opportunities" don't' 

'stakeholder interests can range to the planetary - such as "which of these firms harm Africa?"- some firms do' 

'doctrinair pursuit of unfettered growth can mean "creative destruction" where viable local businesses - giving valued service but not gowing - are deprived of loans - actually expansion can distort the service - but both communities & their work opportunities are arbitrarily damaged'



3. direction-changing dynamics - the headings…

  • capture
  • of curriculum - by career coaching - for privatisation
  • backstory
  • lost in news - changed by lobbying - eliminated in re-writing
  • enclaves
  • on-line & off-line
  • cities
  • recognisable – accessible - credible - trusted



needs probing 

'there is competition for public-service careers work from a global multi-million dollar world-wide & privatised career-coaching industry' 

'global companies - with financial turnovers greater than national governments - require policies to supply education to commerce as though it were part of the economic infrastructure' 

'national governments increasingly treat the business world as the favoured providers of careers information & education-based career events & "inspiring" visits to work places' 

'some careers workers & educators accept the claims of commerce - some see them as a negation of independence & of their reason for joining their profession' 

a backstory is necessary to independent thinking - it explains longer-term causes of shorter-term events - for example why the 11+ was rejected - or what it is about being Welsh that explains it's people's feeling for education' 

'skilful news management using digital techniques can re-write and even erase backstories' 

'much of what is important to any backstory is first realised and acted-on locally - that is a starting point for help - but not a finishing point' 

'enclaves locate people where they live & learn - they may be ready to disclose to insiders - but they may also resist invasion by outsiders - among their "outsiders" may be careers workers' 

'while national governments are responsive to private-sector capture cities & their hinterlands are proving more able to propose developments that citizens can recognise as about their lives - they engage with the proposals & can bring meaningful & relevant suggestions'



4. people’s lives - the headings… 

  • cosmopolitan
  • rich & connected
  • comfortable
  • advantaging own children
  • aspiring
  • to Russell-group universities
  • excluded
  • aspiration squeezed out



needs probing 

'there are clients whose network of family & acquaintances include labour-market insiders able to suggest possibilities & make introductions & rehearse applications which lift their children above the masses' 

'there are clients whose families can afford to move into favourable areas where their own children are likely to find favourable provision in education and for work-life' 

'the natural interests of the well positioned mean that the career prospects of the children of other families are disadvantaged' 

 'the quality of private-sector teaching is not good - its attractions are for nurturing favourable contacts - & so sending poor children to private schools supports a doubtful cause & hopes for an unreliable effect' 

'some people's experience & memories have convinced them that their best hope lies with people they can trust on ventures that will pay-off - whether legal or not' 

'these processes are not like decision making - they are more like working out what from their past to hold onto - out of respect & love for their upbringing - & what from their past they will let go - out of being ready for their future' 

'these processes are not impulsive - they are settled feelings needing time & space for reflection - usefully in sharinging-&-comparing groups - but not for tightly-focussed encounters - for stage-by-stage curriculum'




5. what’s to do about this - the headings…

  • mismanagedcredibility in doubt - testing-&-checking
  • re-focus
  • career development - career management
  • role achievement
  • institutional change - volunteering - civil societymeaning from facts
  • meaning from facts
  • past causes - new possibilities - mainstream learning for living



needs probing

'when a person says I want to be a "fisioferapish" that might mean "I want to do something physical that helps people while I'm wearing a white coat in a hospital" - the want overlooks a need to spell the word - & the need to face up to the up-hill climb' 

'nobody can say what anybody will never be able to achieve - all that helpers can do is point to what kind of grown-up effort it's going to take 

'reciting facts is backward-looking - career management is forward looking - when helpers recognise what the facts mean to the forward looking they know how to help' 

'both my teachers and my careers advisers got my future spectacularly wrong - to be fair so did I' 

'if you were to say to students in most neighbourhoods that what they learn is meant to help them in their everyday lives how many of them would not know what you were talking about?' 

'some mainstream educators will see the point of making learning not just a hoop to jump through but learning for life - & we only need some' 

'the sources of careers thinking are probabilistic mathematics & history & geography & culture studies & life sciences - which are the disciplines of mainstream curriculum'

'it doesn't matter what subjects mainstream educators work on - their usefulness is their ability to enable students to ask key questions and recognise useful answers' 

'civil society is where activity is driven by neither commercial nor by political interests but from a community's own understanding of what needs doing'

'what needs doing is enabling the navigation of a complex & changing world - with an independent & ready-for-anything critical thinking & creativity'



the sources...

review of careers work thinking from the uses of matching to the uses of narrative…


reforming careers-work partnerships - the future for careers work - how mainstream educators help - why student fulfillment is key


finding ways forward…

  1. by bringing things up-to-date
  2. through influential factors
  3. in direction-changing dynamics
  4. for people’s lives
  5. so what’s to do about this?


needs probing 

'I don't know what future the careers profession has - & I don't know anybody who knows - we don't even know what your clients lives will be like five years from  now' 

'it may be more appropriate to think of careers work as a social movement energising a civil society rather than a profession answerable to rules and definitions' 

'we won't get anywhere at by just repeating what careers work does' 

'there's more to be gained from facing up to the mistakes that the movement has made than from promoting what it says are its achievements' 

'following a government lead on a political timetable is an abandonment of independent & creative & critical thinking - & there was never a time when students & clients needed all three' 

'careers workers can each most usefully askof what is set out here - thinking, factors, dynamics and lives - "which most suggests a priority for action in my work?" - what's the answer? 


with thanks to members of the East Anglian Careers Development Institute
for their patience - & forgiveness! 

Bill Law


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