What is a blueprint?

Although I’m in Canada investigating the Blueprint for Life/Work Design I’m probably more interested in the blueprint as a model than I am in its implementation in Canada. My feeling is that the Blueprint represents a particular approach to implementing career guidance policy. The Blueprint documents are designed to be the place where policy and practice are joined up together. A Blueprint is at once a high level policy statement of what career development activity is trying to achieve and a set of guiding principles for practitioners to work with. In essence this boils down to the Blueprint being a description of what we mean by career development that many people can organise their activity around.

The kind of descriptions that existing blueprints are comprised push a particular conception of what career development is. They emphasise career development as a lifelong, socially situated, developmental activity. They focus on what the individual needs to develop rather than how it is delivered. By doing that they provide a curriculum for career development, but they do not provide a career guidance approach. They are descriptions of destinations, even of journey, but they are not descriptions of the vehicle that you will travel in.

From talking to Phil Jarvis it became clear to me that the Canadian Blueprint is made up of a number of different components. It might be possible to view these as core components and contextual components. The core looks something like this.


Competencies describe the things that an individual needs to learn to successfully manage their career

The learning model describes how we think an individual goes about finding out and internalising the competencies

Levels describe the stages that an individual goes through in achieving mastery of the competencies (if we believe that mastery is possible).

This core forms what is generally seen as a blueprint. However around these sit a number of other elements which transform a blueprint from being more than just an abstract idea.  This is what we might describe as the contextual elements of a blueprint.


Resources describe the materials that are produced to support the blueprint. These might be produced by the organisation that originates the blueprint, but are probably more likely to be produced by the community of practice.

The community of practice describes the practitioners who utilise the blueprint, the conversations they have about it and the infrastructure that exists to facilitate those conversations.

The policy connection describes the way in which the blueprint is connected to the current policy context and how far it is acknowledged at the policy level.

The service delivery approach describes how the blueprint is translated through existing service delivery approaches and how far it transforms and reshapes these.

Taken together I think that all of these elements might be said to comprise a blueprint. One of the dangers of looking at the core elements in isolation from the contextual elements is that you can end up with something that is little more than a piece of paper. From what I’ve seen in Canada so far they have created a blueprint which has addressed all of these elements. However, where the Canadian blueprint has been less successful can be explained by the contextual elements that have received less attention e.g. the way in which the blueprint integrated into some service delivery approaches. I will hope to explore this further as I continue my investigation.

Does this make some kind of sense? 


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