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Ray Davis

A Whole Community Approach to the "Art of Career Management"

I recently got a call from a college roommate asking for assistance with his college graduate son who was jobless and living back home with his parents.  No job, no resume, no career-related work experience, and clueless on his future. 

Our guidance and career development profession is rapidly approaching a crossroads of critical concern. Especially as we attempt to retool jobless adults and encourage students and their parents to prepare for the task of being employed, self-sufficient, and passionately engaged in a challenging global workforce.  While we in guidance and career development love to use the mantra that “we make a difference,” the task on “making a difference” needs timely reexamination in the 21st century.

First, how do we work with parents and family members who lack knowledge of career development, which results their child(ren) being saddled with student loan debt, lacking high demand skills, and completely unaware of the realities of the workforce?  Parents harboring career development myths can mistakenly persuade children to avoid community college options and military career pathways. They can push their children to focus no further than entrance into the “right university” with the “right major” as THE magic ticket to lifelong success.  We must explore ways to open the minds of parents (who graduated from college decades ago) to appreciate a skilled career guidance approach. We must show them the critical advantages wrought by internships and techniques to encourage their child to develop a passion for lifelong learning and academic and career planning instead of short term thinking.

Second, we have to be attuned to legislative issues and funding initiatives that affect our ability to program career guidance in our schools. Within the next year or so, the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, the Workforce Development Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will determine the future of guidance.  Can we empirically prove that counselors and career specialists longitudinally track outcomes of guidance and career development?  Can we correlate our work with our schools’ improvement plans, workforce development, and school report cards?  Do we ally ourselves with teachers, administrators, school boards, and community leaders to understand guidance?  Does accountability frighten us as guidance leaders or do we see it as a chance to parade our successes before our stakeholders?  This year’s programming at ACTE will look extensively into exactly this all-important concept: guidance accountability.

Finally, how do we view community involvement?  We must link our curricula to our country’s workforce needs and economic development. Business and industry input is critical for course standard development.  Every career pathway and CTE course needs input from community leaders on standards, course design, project-related learning, and work-based learning.  Guidance professionals must extend the hand of collaboration to the business sector to help us develop job shadowing, internships, mentoring, and educators in industry opportunities.  The landmark 2005 Education and Economic Development Act would never have opened a cornucopia of guidance opportunities in South Carolina without the active craftsmanship of business and industry leaders.

Measuring guidance effectiveness takes time.  Success does not come overnight, nor without all stakeholders at the table working together to teach the next generation “the art of career management.”  Let’s ensure that the next eighteen months or so sees our profession building bridges that enhance realistic guidance awareness and preparing our students and nation for the challenges of international workforce competition.



Ray has been the Education Associate for Career Guidance in the Office of Career and Technology Education in the South Carolina Department of Education since 2000.  He is the current Vice-President of ACTE’s Guidance and Career Development Division.  Ray worked from 1985-2000 at the University Career Center at the University of South Carolina-Columbia as assistant director.  He has been the professor of record for over 450 GCDF-certified completers in his state.  He directed the writing of the standards-based South Carolina Career Guidance Model.  Ray served on the National Career Development Guidelines Rewriting Committee with the US Department of Education, where he served a IPA in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in 2008.  He also served on the States’ Career Cluster Initiative contributing to the establishment of the national Business, Management, and Administration career cluster. 

You can learn more about Ray and his involvement at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) at their website.

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