The Blueprint in Nova Scotia Community College

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On Thursday I was lucky to meet with Laurie Edwards and Clarence DeSchiffart from Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). Laurie and Clarence are real Blueprint enthusiasts and they have used the Blueprint framework as a platform to develop a fantastic vision for the NSCC careers service.

Laurie and Clarence came from Nova Scotia to meet me at the Memramcook Institute in New Brunswick where the National Life/Work Centre is located. Phil Jarvis suggested that I meet with them because they had been instrumental in establishing the Blueprint in Nova Scotia and also because they have continued to use the Blueprint as the strategic underpinning to the service in NSCC. In a frantic morning we discussed the history and present of adult careers services in Nova Scotia. Again, it became clear to me that the Canadian context is actually made up of a series of provincial contexts, with the Federal government currently having relatively little involvement in either education or transition to employment.

In Nova Scotia, Laurie, Clarence and their colleagues at the NSCC have managed to retain a strong degree of autonomy and direction for their service. The NSCC is a province wide further education college which has developed careers interventions for pre-entry and current students. The approach that has been taken has emphasised the idea of intentionality in careers interventions. They argue that if you know what you are doing and can describe it that means that you can measure it. The purpose of measurement is both about developing a stronger sense of what works and about developing a strong case for funding in the cut and thrust of institutional politics. Making the argument for what you are doing and building the business case is essential. If it is possible to demonstrate that careers work can impact on retention, achievement and transition it is possible to make a case to institutional management that this is an important activity. They argue that the Blueprint has been part of moving the service onto this more intentional basis.

Laurie and Clarence took me through a lot of the practice that they’ve developed. One of the things that became apparent was the fact that they have used the Blueprint as a strategic service design document rather than attempting to shove it down the throat of end users. So they have used it to have discussions about how they interact with other services in the college, to develop information and advice materials and to review the practice of the counselling staff. The end user can go through the whole experience without being aware of the Blueprint as a document/policy framework, but they will have had the opportunity to engage with all of the Blueprint competencies along the way.

Laurie and Clarence also talked about how broadening the focus of career services from just “find a job you love” is essential in communities like theirs which have experience turbulent labour markets. The Blueprint focuses on “life/work design” and not just on work and this is more realistic and flexible than a focus that is narrowly on work. An individual may not be successful in finding a “great” job, but that doesn’t have to mean that they don’t have a great life. The Blueprint therefore allows careers services to reorientate their activity around learning, work and leisure and help individuals to make a meaningful life for themselves within that. They also work with Essential Skills (which I posted about the other day). However, Essential Skills are largely about work, whereas the Blueprint is far broader and allows individuals far greater room to think about how they fit into the world, rather than just fitting themselves to pre-existing requirements.

So thanks to Laurie, Clarence and Phil for another great day in Atlantic Canada. Laurie also gave me some Nova Scotian gifts that introduced me to Big Uglee Mints and some of the music of Atlantic Canada. Once again the openness and generousity of the people of Canada blew me away and I’m learning huge amounts with every day that I’m here. I’m just doing my best to keep the blog up to date as I go.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Tristam, I loved the photo and the excellent blog article regarding Laurie and Clarence’s visit! Funny I did my Master’s Practicum based upon the Blueprint 🙂 and Clarence was my advisor. Just wanted to clarify a little point regarding your thoughts on Essential Skills. they too are for "Work, Learning and Life" not mostly about work Looking forward to following the rest of your travels in the Canadian Career Development world!Warm regards Darlene

  2. Thanks. I’d be interested to hear more about what you wrote about the Blueprint. I’ll do my best to keep people up to date on the blog and to sharpen up my understanding of Essential Skills as I go.

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