YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: Careers Education and Employment Services

This is the fifth of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This discourse leads up to the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013. Edited, Shanti Jagannathan, ADB.

It is now recognized that in addition to skills development, there is need for ancillary support such as employment services, career guidance, job placement services and back to work programs to bridge the distance between training and productive employment. These cannot be provided by government alone and there is need for partnerships between the private sector and service providers with training institutions.

An OECD publication of 2009 titled ‘Relationship of Career Guidance to VET draws distinctions between ‘career counselling’ which is a one-to-one dialogue; ‘career education’ which is a curriculum offering; and ‘career information’, which can be provided in various formats.  The report argues that career guidance is relevant to the quality and effectiveness of VET at two distinct stages: prior to entering a VET programme and within the VET programme. In respect of the former creating awareness of options and providing support to make informed choices are important principles. Careers guidance within programmes should be available at all key decision points and on exit. It also has an important role to play in helping students to understand the transferability of their skills and options open to them.

Achieving greater clarity on all of the above concepts can be an important part of formulating an appropriate development response.  Developed and developing countries are engaged in putting appropriate initiatives in place.

Employment services have a vital role to play in easing the transition from school to work and much can be done to enhance their functions through developmental interventions. As an example of what can be possible, the recently concluded EC funded ‘Labour Market Information Project’ in Vietnam included the reinvigoration of ‘Jobs Centres’, including their full computerization and the development of the capacity of staff to generate and analyse data. According to a final evaluation, this resulted in the production of a ‘treasure trove’ of important data for skills manpower planning. It highlighted, for example, a set of occupational areas that comprised the easiest vacancies to fill (suggesting skills oversupply) and a set of occupational areas that were most difficult to fill (suggesting skills under-supply, with attendant implications for training programme response). It was also recognized by project stakeholders that this kind of information was of vital importance for feeding back into careers guidance work: helping young people to make informed decisions about where their best opportunities lie. Reinvigorated job centres are also now bringing together employers seeking recruits and those looking for work. One means of achieving this is the organization of regular ‘jobs fairs’, in which employers make presentations and do their interviewing and recruiting at the jobs centre.

Australia’s employment service system delivers unemployment-related assistance to approximately 1.6m Australians annually. These services are delivered through Jobs Services Australia (JSA) by more than 100 contracted providers at more than 2,000 sites across Australia. This crucial support is enabled through the large investment made by the federal government, approximately $1.3b per annum. A recent paper on reforming employment assistance in Australia argues for a comprehensive re-design of the system from 2015, favoring a truly competitive market for employment services provided by a range of private contractors.

Posted on December 4, 2013, in Employment Services and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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