Yesterday was the first day of #ICCDPP2015. For the uninitiated this stands for the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy Symposium. If you are interested in the background of this event there is an article which tells you all the history you could ever want to know. In a nutshell this is a focused international event which happens every few years which brings together policy makers and policy informers from across the world to discuss career development policy.
It is not an academic conference (although there are a fair few academics here) rather it is a working meeting where policy lending and policy borrowing can take place. Before the meeting countries produced papers which were then synthesised into four thematic summaries: engaging employers; why return on investment matters; the role of integrated technologies; and integrated policies – creating systems that work (see all of the papers). These themes then provide the basis of the symposium. At the symposium country teams work in cross-cutting international groups to share and learn and then come together into country teams at the end to action plan. Prior to the event examples of promising practice were also gathered from around the world.
Yesterday covered some pretty big picture ground. There was a strong agreement from all participants that career development was an important activity and that it should be placed at the heart of public policy. However there was also a recognitions that career development was taking place within a challenging content. Many societies are experiencing major demographic shifts with both an aging population and a youth bulge. We are also seeing a major transformation in the labour market brought about by automation and the rise of the robot. Will there be enough work for all of us? If not what are the social, economic and political consequences of that.
We discussed a range of challenges for the field including:
- The labour market continues to change in ways that we cannot control or predict.
- In many countries young people are struggling to integrate into the labour market and then progress within in.
- Our education systems are often not fit for purpose and do not produce the skills that the economy needs.
It is easy to focus on challenges but we also talked about responses to this that it was possible to make. These included:
- A recognition that there were a range of policy options (reducing inequality, increasing vocational education systems, building tri-partite social contract systems etc.) that could make a difference to the opportunities of young people (and indeed all people) in this challenging world. However, this kind of broader policy discussion is largely outside of the scope of this symposium.
- In relation to career development we identified two complementary responses. On one hand countries need to develop their career development system, extend it and realise it as a truly lifelong system. On the other hand there is a need to shift the focus of career development towards the development of career management skills. We need to be arming individuals for a changing world.
We then focused on the issue of employer engagement. We heard from educators, policy makers and employers who all stressed the huge benefits that effective education employment partnership could bring. However, we recognised that the examples of effective co-operation were too few and far between. The discussion then focused on what policies might support this. We discussed a range of good practices including:
- Developing a national strategy for education employer working
- Creating a national co-ordinating body for strategic stakeholder involvement in education employer partnership
- Developing vehicles for local co-ordination
- Creating high quality career and labour market information
- Building an infrastructure (either in schools or locally) that could actually implement brokerage between education and employers
- The need to have an appropriate pedagogy and curriculum to ensure that young people’s learning is maximised.
Many countries have elements of this system, some even have most of it, but all could see ways to make it work better.
We discussed how we might move these ideas forward and came up with the following sort of ideas.
- We need a vision that is understood by policy maker and the public alike.
- We need evidence of what the impact of effective career development is and case studies that help us to understand how it is done well.
- We need co-ordination to bring those with an interested in career development together.
- We need a campaign to engage policy makers and raise the interest of the general public.
It was an incredibly rich day. This blog just represents my initial attempt to sort through it. There will be more formal and more coherent summaries and outputs emerging over the next days and weeks. But, hopefully this gives you a brief idea of why I’m in Iowa at the moment.