The nature of work is complex and changing rapidly. While some people just work for the money for others their work and career provide sense of purpose, personal satisfaction, and fulfilment. What ‘careers’ are, is also changing and for many the pace of change is fast.

A report by Price Waterhouse Coopers was published last year examined the approaches needed to transition to a model of career support designed to work for everyone, no matter their life stage.

The report’s key message

People need help to make transitions throughout their career. This support can come from family, friends and work colleagues, or a professional.  While the need to support people transitioning from school to work is well understood, there are many other transition points too: “from tertiary education to work, between jobs, between industries, between various paid and unpaid roles, or after a prolonged absence from the workforce.”

The key message of PWC’s report is simple and clear:

“Career support needs to be delivered through a model that offers lifelong, connected and accessible support – to any and all Australians, including their network of key influencers, providers, employers and educational institutions.”

The issues

Career support is not as good as it could be. Career information exists and is widely available, but not to everyone. It is also of variable quality, patchy, overwhelming or difficult to understand. It also relies heavily on the knowledge, competence and skills of those providing it. Finally:

“Alternative pathways and work experience options are not always considered, or individuals lack the know-how, skills, or resources to investigate these options.

… and people experience multiple roadblocks and hurdles.”

So, what are the solutions?

We can learn from ‘best practice’ in other countries. Support needs to start as early as primary school, but it also needs to be suitable for all ages. It needs to be in many forms, and provide multiple channels to help individuals reach out for tailored and accessible support to enable them to connect and “engage with employers, education and training and career practitioners.” PWC’s proposed approach has four elements:

  • A single support system for all people in Australia
  • Multiple channels for users, including an online portal, telephone, online chat and text messaging service
  • A one-stop-shop (or “a single point of truth”) for people navigating their careers, helping others, or looking to hire people, that brings together information and services that already exist in the market and creates incentives to improve the quality of career support, and
  • A strong connection between employers, practitioners and individuals to facilitate greater involvement in vocational pathways.

PWC suggest a series of next steps, including the preparation of a case for change to explore the benefits, optimal role of government and funding mechanisms. This should be accompanied by detailed investigations to help better understand what is currently delivered and whether existing arrangements could be augmented to deliver a better quality of service. In the longer term other issues needing to be addressed include aligning provision and support across States and Territories, recognising the differences in local needs and policy imperatives. A final key issue is considering how such a career support service will affect the design and delivery of other complimentary public services, such as employment support, healthcare, welfare and immigration.

If you want to explore this issue some more, see VOCED’s Pod on career development