The role of education, and the way it prepares students for their future lives, is changing as the knowledge-based economy continues to advance in Europe. The ever-changing nature of the European employment landscape demands a high-level of flexibility and adaptability in the workforce. This high-value, dynamic knowledge economy has for the most part done away with the notion of a “job for life” or a “skill for life”. The emphasis now is on employability and adaptability; on upgrading skill sets to keep pace with change; on changing career pathways to respond to market conditions. In this new reality, career planning and development is no longer viewed as a linear process and more emphasis is now placed on nonlinear, chance and unplanned influences.
When people in education talk about career guidance it is generally referred to as a service; advice and/or direction provided by an expert for the benefit of students. Career guidance in school education environments is generally centred around the final years of the 2nd level academic cycle and concentrates on supporting the most appropriate transition for students from school into higher education, 3rd level, tertiary vocational education, or employment. While this 'service' approach might be considered appropriate within the parameters of education establishments where students and career guidance professionals coexist on a daily basis, the most likely career pathways for students currently in education today cannot be defined on a once off basis and the career planning needs of students can no longer be satisfied by this 'service' based approach.
The rationale behind the SELFIE project is based on the belief that we now need to consider career planning as a subject instead of career guidance as a service; a subject with curriculum resources at different levels, with required learning outcomes and an assessment framework to measure attainment. In math, students are taught to add, subtract, divide and multiply. They bring these skills and abilities with them everywhere they go and can call on them and rely on them throughout their life. In career planning students should be taught (A) how to research the marketplace and identify potential career opportunities; (B) how to evaluate options using appropriate decision making processes and criteria; (C) how to assess their own strengths and weaknesses; (D) how to present themselves in the most beneficial way to academia or to potential employers. There is a need for a growing emphasis to be placed on critical inquiry and mental flexibility and on providing students with the necessary skills and tools for those tasks. Given the predilection of young people today for social media there is a need to employ these new technologies to help students begin the process of building sustainable networks and to help them gain experience in research, experimentation, problem-based learning and other forms of creative work. The SELFIE project will develop a career planning subject framework incorporating introductory, intermediate and advanced levels that helps students to develop the necessary skills to enable them to construct their own self-portrait and career progression pathway and update it as required throughout their working life.
The EU Resolution on Guidance held that “guidance throughout life contributes to the achievement of the EU goals…(and that)…effective guidance provision has a key role to play in promoting social inclusion, social equity, gender equality and active citizenship by encouraging and supporting individuals’ participation in education, training and their choice of realistic and meaningful careers. Furthermore it states that “guidance services need to be available at times and in formats which will encourage all citizens to continue to develop their skills and competences throughout their lives”. The realisation of the goals of this resolution can undoubtedly be better served by ensuring that all students who leave formal education have been supported to develop the necessary skill sets to enable them plan and adjust their career pathway to coincide with the different stages of their life and to respond to the demands of the marketplace.
SELFIE will support the strategic objective of the Education & Training 2020 framework by helping to improve the quality and efficiency of education and training through the development of career planning teaching that is more appropriate for Europe's dynamic and knowledge based economy. It will also enhance creativity and innovation by supporting the development of the key transversal skills of research, critical thinking and decision making.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
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