Paradigm shift for career guidance – new vision or myth?

Is there or there should be a paradigm shift in career guidance? Definitely there should be, because there has been a shift in labour markets of OECD countries. For example in the last 10 years in Italy work regulations have been dramatically changed, and at moment half of the people employed in services (and most of the new employees in overall sectors) are on short term contracts. We can now imagine a big number of people in all their career will never experience a long term contract, and will have to look for a new job every few months or few years. Career guidance has so to adapt to the new needs of our clients, as it has already done in the past. When OECD countries experienced virtual full employment, career guidance was focused on helping young people making the right professional choice. When OECD countries started experiencing industrial crisis and a persistent rate of unemployment, career guidance began to focus on adults and on teaching job search techniques. In both periods long term contracts continued to be the norm and for most people individual redundancies were usually prohibited by work regulations. In these contexts career guidance can be for most people a one shot activity, and the individuals, once they have been hired, can not bother to constantly upgrade their employability (employability is defined here as the knowledge, skills and competences requested by the labour market).

In the new context we are facing, employability has become the best form of insurance against unemployment. If every few months or years a person has to look for a new job, to master the jobsearch techniques is not enough. If he/she wants to find a new job fast, a high level of employability is needed. Previously employees passively relied on their employers to learn and upgrade theirs skills; being on long term contracts they could find themselves bored, but not redundant. Now an increasing number of people (first of all the ones that have to face looking for a job again and again) have to maintain their employability directly, often with activities (courses, direct practical learning) paid by themselves and in their free time.

In this new context a shift on career guidance is welcomed. We must learn how to make our clients aware of the new importance of continuously upgrading their knowledge and skills, and how best to support them in the process. Of course most of them will resent to bear on their shoulders the additional burden of their employability maintenance, but they have no choice. For us this means to switch from the one shot approach to long term, from assessing to motivating, from tests to counselling, from working in a vacuum to working in a strong network with the other social services.

Is there already a new shift on career guidance practices? I agree most career guidance activities for adults are still mainly curative. This depends partly from the practitioners, partly from how public services are organised and managed. In the settings I know taking in charge a client and following him/her on long term base (whatever following means) is not yet the rule.

To improve our services to clients doesn’t mean to agree with the neoliberist ideology that accompanies the social transformations underlined above. We value flexibility, but only when is chosen by our clients, not when is imposed to them. The new context we are living gives more responsibility to each individual, but so creates more inequalities, especially with people with low working and social skills. It’s especially with these people the one shot model is ineffective. As career guidance practitioners we can and must signal the dangers of the current situation and lobby for better services, but of course we cannot found a new party, as guidance practitioners we work on a micro, one to one interpersonal base.



Articolo contenuto sul sito Autore Leonardo Evangelista. Leonardo Evangelista si occupa di orientamento dal 1993. L’articolo rispecchia le opinioni dell’autore al momento dell’ultima modifica.


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