Moncton, New Brunswick

I arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick today on what is really the first proper stage of my Churchill fellowship. I have just finished dinner with Phil Jarvis of the National Life/Work Design Centre  who has put together a fascinating programme for me to find out about the career development scene in Atlantic Canada. I’ll be reporting on the conversations that I have over the next few days. But it was really great to take a few hours and get Phil’s take on developments in Canada. As ever the following is my take on what I’ve been told rather than a verbatim report. Please shoot the messenger (me) if you don’t like what you hear. 

We started with a high level policy overview. Like the UK career development in Canada is divided between adult services and school-based services. The school-based services have always been provincial responsibility (going back to the nineteenth century) while adult services have only recently become the responsibility of the provincial government. This provincial focus for careers can make it difficult to summarise the situation in the country. Each province is likely to see different value in careers work and to organise the services that are provided accordingly.

The responsibility for adult careers services has more recently passed to provincial governments. In the past employment services and careers were the responsibility of Human Resources Canada (which now seems to be Human Resources and Skills Development Canada). At this point there was a greater amount of strategic oversight of careers across the whole country. With the move to provincial control of these issues greater local diversity has developed. In many ways this is an improvement as programmes can be tailored to local needs. However, the decision by the federal government to stand outside of the issue of careers altogether is probably not good as it allows the issue to slip in importance and also means that there is no co-ordination in terms of the national picture.

Canada is a massive country, with a relatively small population. There are a number of issues that are being faced by pretty much the whole country which an improved career development system might be able to speak to. The issues that the country is facing are not unusual (demographic time-bombs, skill shortages, rising unemployment etc) but the challenge of addressing this across a country that spans time zones, with a population of only 30 million and 13 different administrative frameworks should not be under-estimated.

What I’m hoping to explore over the next few days and weeks is the thinking that is emerging in response to some of these challenges. I hope that I’ll have more to say about this as the trip unfolds.

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One comment

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