It is our conviction that the status quo in career development, or even working harder doing what we have been doing, will result in many citizens, businesses, indeed whole communities, falling victim to the looming labour crisis we're calling the Perfect Storm in job markets. We believe it will take a harmonized, whole-community approach to career and workforce development to weather the storm. Leaders in the career space must support each other's missions like never before. Therefore, Career Cruising is hosting a series of "Career Summit" dinners across North America to provide a venue for career leaders to explore options for collective action to move career and workforce development higher on the public agenda. A summary of issues discussed at each "Summit Dinner" will be posted on this blog after the event.
Atlanta Career Summit
In conjunction with the NCDA 2012 Global Career Development Conference
Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Participants: Cheri Butler, Neil and Helen Carey, Mark Danaher, Rebecca Dedmond, Rich Feller, Sharon Ferris, Mark Franklin, Kevin Glavin, Jane Goodman, Ray Henson, Phil Jarvis, David Kaplan, Linda Kobylarz, Kyle Phillips, Alberto Puertas, Pat Schwallie-Giddis, Bob Tyra, Janet Wall.
Background: During dinner Career Cruising’s Phil Jarvis presented The Perfect Storm. The main points of his presentation were:
- Four megatrends (The “Great Recession”, changing demographics, up-skilling across the full spectrum of career clusters, inadequate workforce preparation) are creating a Perfect Storm in job markets across the country. Opportunity is actually greater for career seekers than ever, though many are ill-equipped find it, as is danger. Despite high unemployment and underemployment, particularly among youth, employers say they can’t find the qualified talent they need in this era of accelerating technological innovation and global competition. Career seekers can’t find employers willing to take a chance on them. With an aging population and increasing dependency ratios, society needs its citizens, especially young people, establishing themselves in viable careers and becoming fully engaged citizens as soon as possible. Too many postsecondary graduates, not to mention those less qualified, are deep in student loan debt with no idea what careers might suit them, let alone what employers might want them and how to locate them.
- The status quo is unacceptable. The Perfect Storm brings with it enormous human and economic costs, some of which were discussed in the presentation. It was suggested that a whole-community approach to career and workforce development is required to weather the storm and prosper. Whole-community means educators - not just career development facilitators - parents, employers, and community organizations pulling together in a harmonized way to help as many citizens as possible find their way to satisfying and fulfilling career pathways, and to help local companies find the talent they need.
- Summaries of research on the impact of career development learning on students and clients (Scott Gillies, Ray Davis, University of Derby) provide compelling evidence that career development facilitators and quality career programs and resources make a significant difference. Despite this, the career development sector is underfunded and undervalued.
After the presentation participants were encouraged to suggest ways that organizations in the career sector might further collaborate to support each other’s missions. What follows is a partial summary of issues discussed.
- There is a need to go beyond just preparing students for college. We must prepare them for successful entry into careers and adult life as fully engaged citizens. Career development should begin in the elementary grades – not choosing needle-in-the-haystack occupational destinations but preparing for success in adult life, based on each student’s personal and unique definition of success.
- The NCDA-Harris survey could be publicized as a way of letting the general population know the consequences of inadequate career development and insufficient education and training. Additional support to career development organizations and career practitioners would help individuals, communities and the economy.
- The economic argument needs to be made personal in order to motivate people to prioritize career development.
- Parents need to be engaged. They have the greatest influence on their children, and they can help them and each other, but most don’t know how. They need knowledge and tools.
- The benefits of career development, and the consequences of inadequate career preparation need to be marketed to educators, parents, business and civic leaders.
- NCDA should have representation at the United Nations. The challenges, issues and economic consequences of inadequate career development are global issues. Countries could collaborate in developing solutions that would benefit all. The need for career development is even greater in developing countries.
- Including employers in the career and workforce development solution is the “game-changer.” Employers need to stop accusing educators of failing to prepare students with 21st century employability and “soft” skills, and step up. It is in their best interest to contribute to preparing their future workforce, and to make a more serious commitment to enhancing the skills of their current employees.
- Self-interest is the motivator. Marketing specialists could help develop campaigns to highlight career development in the context of the self-interest of educators (more engaged students), students (more hope for the future and motivation), parents (success sooner for their children and prosperity for their communities), employers (more engaged, committed and productive workforce), legislators (increased prosperity, tax revenues, decreased public deficits and debt)
- There needs to be a sense of urgency. Few see the connection between career development and economic development and prosperity. The point needs to be made that increased funding for career development will result in reduced drop-out rates Gillies, Derby), reduced incarceration and recidivism rates, increased productivity and competitiveness for companies, reduced costs for entitlement programs like social assistance and welfare, reduced health costs, increased tax revenues, and so on.
- “Too big to fail.” Despite massive federal deficits, the Federal Government found the money to bail out General Motors and Wall Street (big banks). They were considered too big to be allowed to fail. Career success for citizens is even bigger and more important, to every family in America and the future prosperity of the nation, to fail. This point must be made to legislators, business and civic leaders.
- The manufacturing sector could be a target. They have their national “Dream it, do it” initiative. Leaders from the corporate world need to be brought to the table. Career practitioners are the countries “eyes and ears on the ground” in every community in the nation. We have our fingers on the pulse of the career development needs of the entire population. Our voice needs to be heard by legislators, policy-makers and industry leaders.
- Chambers of Commerce at all levels need to understand how their members and communities would benefit from better career preparation so they will encourage their members to support educators and in helping connect students with increasingly informed career plans and portfolios with potential future employers. As a society we excel at discovering athletic talent early. We need to get much better at discovering talent in all other sectors earlier, and introducing young people with dreams to organizations seeking talent. Simple introductions between middle school, high school and postsecondary students and potential employers can lead to plant visits, job shadowing, mentorships, summer jobs, work experience placements – and lives changed for the better. These increasingly informed relationships can lead to future employment, and provide immediate hope and motivation to students to become more engaged in the education. Resources exist to facilitate the process of introducing qualified students and motivated employers. When implemented on a regional or statewide basis, for example, Career Cruising’s ePortfolio and ccInspire can link (mediated by the school) employers seeking talent in specific occupations with all students in the region or state with those occupations among their stated career goals.
- Rotary and other Service Clubs could help mobilize a whole-community approach to career and workforce development, as could organizations like Scouts and Guides, Big Brother/Sisters, Junior Achievement, 100 Black Men, and many more. Solid values, character, and service are keys to career and life success that are consistent with the missions of these organizations.
- Sustainability is a key. Promising and proven programs and initiatives have come and gone over the years. They must be institutionalized to endure for any length of time. The NOICC-SOICC network is a striking example of a strategic network that connected all federal and state departments and agencies impacting career and workforce development, and brought leaders in the sector together. It had a remarkable run from 1976 to 1999 when it was de-funded. It resulted in the institutionalization of most major Career Information Delivery Systems, the National Career Development Guidelines, the Career Development Facilitation training and certification, and much more.
- Any game plan for attracting additional support for career development must be both strategic and tactical. There are organizations with booths here at the NCDA conference that could be partners at both levels.
- NCDA’s 100th anniversary in Boston, where Frank Parsons first shone significant light on vocational choice, could be a good occasion for NCDA to host a one-day summit of more than career development “insiders.” There might possibly be a big name moderator (i.e., Tavis Smiley, Oprah Winfrey, Jill Biden, Colin Powell, Morgan Freeman). It could include senior representatives of organizations (list from Bob Tyra) like:
- The White House, the House and Senate, and the Federal Departments of Education, Labor, Defense
- Job Corps, Americorps
- Professional Associations (i.e., National Governors Association, Association of Career and Technical Educators, American Counseling Association, American School Counseling Association)
- American College Testing, College Board
- Centre for American Progress
- US Chamber of Commerce
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Edutopia (George Lucas Foundation)
- National Governors Association
- National Manufacturers Association
- CEOs from each of the 16 Clusters
- National STEM Network
- Ready by 21, Work Readiness networks
- Junior Achievement
- Over the coming year designated NCDA members would need to communicate with these organizations in preparation. An information kit would need to be prepared soon. The expectation would be that summit participants would come prepared not just to listen and speak, but to present concrete actions their organization can contribute to a coordinated national initiative to help many more Americans establish themselves in fulfilling careers, and companies find the talent they need to drive the economic prosperity we so badly need and want.
- We have heard the words over and over for decades. The people in positions of authority in academia, government and business are comfortable and secure, and not feeling the pain of working class Americans and young people. Whether or not they have the will and resolve to do what needs to be done is an open question.
- A career summit at NCDA 2013 in Boston could be one of the most important events in NCDA’s history and open the curtain in a dramatic way to NCDA’s second century. Or it could be too late and too much trouble. Time will tell.