Cloudworks is no longer accepting new user registrations, and will be closing down on 24th June 2019. We hope to make a read-only archive of the site available soon after.

career-learning café update - January 2015

careers work in times of change, the risks, its response, in what locations & how practicable?

Cloud created by:

Bill Law
1 January 2015


Bill Law
the career-learning café

Careers work inhabits a world of accelerating change, carrying unforeseen risks, and provoking radical responses in overwhelmed locations.  It's hardly surprising that whatever careers work does somebody finds something wrong with it - the practicalities of careers work are contested.  Meanwhile the challenge for students and clients is be ready-for-anything.  Careers work is confronted with the need somehow to reconcile all this.  

It's not easy.  An understandable reaction is to wonder why the career-learning café makes things so complicated.  The following five paragraphs explain why.


careers work needs your say about this 

sign up on the right and blog at the foot of the page




What is going on now has effects at least as far-reaching as what was seen through the first telescope, or found in the first printed book, or experienced in the first urban factories.  And the causes and consequences of such changes stretch from the personal to the planetary.  At each stage we can have little idea what results to expect, but we can know that nothing will be the same again. 

The reviews below ask whether careers work can survive contemporary change by doing the same again.



Contemporary change is multi-layered, mounting all its challenges at the same time.  Commerce is more demanding, it's technologies pervade how we all live, and the cultures they nurture are deferential to neither élite or expertise.  All of this poses risks for careers-work credibility.  Policy, commerce, media and anecdote throng with ready-made demands of careers-work practice, throwing it into continuous dispute.  The causes of all this are multi-layered and their consequences seem to be irreversible.  

The reviews ask whether the risks pose existential threats to careers work.



Long ago careers work gets started by concentrating on a self hopefully searching work categories for opportunities that match hopes.  Early on just how much choice is available to that self is in doubt.  And, soon after, the thinking acknowledges how the attachments and loyalties of social background figure in what the self does about career.  As the navigation of that complexity and accelerating change become more demanding careers work looks to stage-by-stage learning - enabling the self to make useful sense of confusing, chaotic, and misleading experience.  The growing need to respond to points-of-view in a social world means that recounting narrated sequences works better than scanning ready-made categories.  It also accords with neurological findings which show how multi-layered learning so entwines feelings-and-thoughts to make a self capable of fruitful self contradiction. 

The reviews ask how readily careers work is responding to this continuing expansion of the idea of self.



A 'self' may be understood psychologically, economically and neurologically; but a career-managing self must also be understood as socially situated.  Work is done with and for other people.  Careers work is adept at understanding career management in its national and global contexts.  But causes-and-effects in village, neighbourhood and network need to be understood in these particular social-and-cultural locations - where self-awareness is infused with an awareness of other people.  Whether in postcode, url or appointments diary, these contacts are experienced as close-up encounters with people who are readily recognisable, understood, valued - and, therefore, trusted.  That experience is invested in locations called 'social enclaves' which frame and shape what people do - including what they do about work-life.  

The reviews point to enclaves ranging from what people might claim is 'our-cosmopolitan-set' to what people might feel is 'our-side-of-the-street'.



Concerns for practicality appear to ask 'how well does it work?'.  But where different enclaves attribute different meanings to different experience the question becomes 'who does it work for?'.  And that is a question of ownership not efficiency - practice must belong to the people it serves.  There is a wide range of expectations for what benefit careers work should bring.  The spectrum of claimants ranges from shareholders to stakeholders.  And the way their influences are levered is meant to determine the direction that practice takes - and sometimes it does.  Whether voiced on behalf of nation or families there are underlying oppositions between shareholder and stakeholder voices.  The former claim most to value economic success, competitive achievement and libertarian freedom.  The latter claim most to value personal-and-social fulfilment, fair access to opportunity and critical independence.  Each different position takes a different interest in what voices are heeded, what research is commissioned and therefore what practice is favoured. 

The reviews show what practice works for stakeholders - and what does not.

They follow below, each updating café material on one or more of the five challenges to contemporary careers work.




  • pdf monograph opening a new conversation on change and wondering why careers work leaders have not yet caught up with it
  • interactive article asking how policy both helps and hinders careers work's response to change & finds more reliable sources of support

Thinking about change also faces more specific issues for...



  • interactive article detailing the many pressures on learning, and how they explain why careers work now finds itself in such a fix
  • interactive article pointing to the ways careers work has not learned from its own mistakes - by mis-managing political and commercial attempts at curriculum capture
  • pdf monograph detailing how public-service careers work will get nowhere by meeting C21st questions with C20th answers - extinct when it could be distinct

Thinking about risk also faces more specific issues for...  



  • pdf monograph - examining the need for careers work which is independent, credible, inclusive, recognisable and innovative
  • interactive article showing how research, politics and professions interact to uncover the complexity of the change with which careers work must deal
  • on-line film interrogating new thinking for client career-management, career worker expertise, the uses of narrative, and the necessity of critical thinking
  • interactive article examining the difference between what careers workers do and what students-and-clients make of it, and why they do not agree - and should not
  • pdf monograph inviting a scrutiny of the often unspoken assumptions of careers workers, ranging  from the post-modern to the pragmatic, yet underpinning day-by-day action

New thinking also faces more specific issues for...  



  • pdf monograph showing how geography impacts life chances, and showing why any geographical place must make a bigger experiential space - if it is to serve social justice
  • interactive article showing how nations fail, how cities liberate and how shock sets the agenda - probing what cities and their hinterlands have that education needs

Re-locating careers work also faces more specific issues for...  



  • workshop presentation for professionals working on their own experience-based concerns and anticipations, and using that as a framework for developing effective new practice
  • journal article examining how careers work is well-placed to enable students to work with what on-line life does well, and also with what misleads and damages life chances
  • pdf monograph detailing how what good educators do best - enabling critical thinking - as the most important feature of any digital literacy    

Practice also faces more specific issues for...  



Bill Law's Career-learning Café is in danger of closure.  It has supported learning-for-living for approaching twenty years.  It welcomes visitors, from careers-work and education outfits, working on enabling career management.  It is independent of business, government and professional interests.  Its material is free to access and download.  Vistors are asked only to acknowledge café sources, and to feedback suggestions for their improvement.

But the café cannot go on indefinitely.  It has been funded from Bill's earnings from his research-and-development work.  That money will run out - the café needs new funding.  Part of that comes from a scheme offering on-line professional mentoring in enabling career-management.  There is an award of a Career-learning Café certificate or diploma.

Further arrangements must take account of the café's users.  They include people...

...not in a position to contribute - for them things will go on as they are for as long as possible a position to contribute - who can decide for themselves what would be an affordable contribution an organisation - who might be able to ask their managers to consider contributing

Contributors will prolong the café's life - for themselves and for people in no position to help.  If you or your outfit is in a position to help contact Bill about setting up your preferred procedure.



get alerts at...



have your say below by first signing-up above - or by e-mailing Bill


talk about what Bill might be able to contribute to your work by e-mailing Bill - or calling 07855 293855


Dr Bill Law FRSA
the career-learning café


Extra content

Embedded Content


Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.