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What is Career Development?

“Career Development is the lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future.”

Source: Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners (2012)

Career Development services are programs and services that are intended to help individuals to explore and sort out questions related to employability, direction, skills development, personal development, progression, and making a difference. Such services are provided in many different settings.  

There are websites and guides and self-help tools that help individuals to explore and find their own learning and work directions and make their own well considered choices. 

There are multiple sources of career development support that are not “professional” support but that can be highly effective. These include parents, networks, mentors, and employers. Many people manage their own career development independently and/or with the help of their own circles of contacts and supports and never seek external assistance.  

For those who need or want to benefit from professional assistance, there are career courses and centres in schools, community colleges and universities that help direct people to the resources they need and provide group and individual help if needed to make well considered choices and to make successful transitions from school to work.

There are community agencies and employment offices that help direct people to learning and work and that also provide group and individual help if needed to explore learning and work options, make decisions and succeed in finding work.  

There are human resource departments in many workplaces to assist employees to develop and implement their career plans.

Adapted from “What is Career Development?” (2014)

Why is Career Development important?

Career Development is about navigating your journey through learning and work. The word “career” is defined as “a path or progress through life or history.” Yet people often think about career as “a” or “one” occupation chosen for life. This just doesn’t fit, either with the origins of the word or with the realities for the majority in the world of work today. 

We do not make “one perfect education choice” or find “one perfect job for life”. We navigate options, make choices without perfect information, bounce back from disappointments and constantly learn from experience. We have multiple roles throughout our journeys. Some will be formal jobs; some will not. Though we cannot guarantee what will be around the next bend in our life journey, we can keep learning about ourselves and what we can and want to do.

Navigating is about making the best choices you can on your journey so that you can live the kind of life you want for yourself.

Adapted from “What is Career Development?” (2014)

Who can help me with my Career Development?

Career Development Practitioners have specific knowledge and expertise to assist you with your career development needs. In Alberta, and several other provinces in Canada, Career Development Practitioners may have achieved the Certified Career Development Professional (CCDP) designation. This voluntary designation is proof that a Career Development Practitioner has demonstrated they have the competencies outlined in the Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners as well as a minimum level of education and experience related to the profession. 

“Career Development Practitioner is an umbrella term that refers to any direct service provider in the career development field. This includes but is not limited to: career practitioners, career educators, career information specialists, career management consultants, work development officers, employment support workers, work experience coordinators, job developers, placement coordinators, career coaches, and vocational rehabilitation workers. Although the term “counsellor” has historically been used with many job titles in the field (e.g., employment counsellors, rehabilitation counsellors, career counsellors), in recent years there has been increasing recognition that a “career counsellor” has a specific scope of practice (see the Career Counselling Specialization).  Employers are encouraged to use titles without “counselling” in them for all employees and service providers who are not professional counsellors/therapists.”

“Career Counselling refers to an individual or group process which emphasizes self-awareness and understanding, and facilitates people to develop a satisfying and meaningful life/work direction. Career counselling is used to guide learning, work and transition decisions, as well as to manage responses to changing work and learning environments over the lifespan. Career Counsellors (i.e., those who provide Career Counselling services) have a unique scope of practice and specialized counselling competencies – they are fully competent career development practitioners and also fully competent counsellors.”

Source: Canadian Standards and Guidelines for Career Development Practitioners (2012)

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Career Development Association of Alberta | Box 35019 Midtown PO | 10818 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton AB T5J 0B7 |
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