I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about the role of technology in careers work recently. I’m still rather far from being able to predict or advise on the future but a number of issues are starting to come together. One of the ones that keeps coming back is the role of key professionals in developing strategies that can enable careers people to use technologies appropriately. In the broader educational field we have seen the development of a class of professionals who we call educational technologists or learning technologists. These are a group of people who have expertise in both technology and pedagogy and the role exists in one sense just to aid in the translation of technologies from developers back to teachers. However this new profession has served a much more useful function than this. Knowledge of both worlds has enabled learning technologists to drive innovation as they understand both what needs to be done and what tools there are to do it.
In the area of careers work we do not have a corresponding hybrid professional. On one level we might conclude that careers work is essentially a branch of education so our normal educational technologists should do fine. I’d be the first to welcome a greater number of educational technologists into thinking about careers work and where they could contribute to it. However careers work is not just a branch of education, it is also a field concerned with transition and therefore needs people with expertise in HR, social work, the labour market etc etc. There is a need for a group of people who understand what careers work is about, but also understand what kinds of new technologies can deliver it.
If we leave technological developments to the tech people they are unlikely to find things that are really useful to careers workers. Conversely if we leave them to careers workers they are unlikely to find ways to break out of their existing ways of doing things or to imagine technological developments in ways that are feasible. The development of a group of hybrid professionals therefore offers us not just the opportunity to harness the power of technology, it also offers us the opportunity to import a critical friend into the heart of the careers profession. It might not be easy, but it would be exciting and innovative.
- Would anyone out there describe themselves as a careers technologist?
- Does anyone out there want to become a careers technologist?
- What other things are important in allowing careers work to utilise technologies more effectively?