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The Forces and Shifts at Work

by Donald Smith

“What’s the ‘So What’ for You?”

Every time we round a corner on the future of work, the changes in the road come up to meet us faster and faster. The curves get steeper and our need to adapt gets more critical. What are the shifts required for success for career practitioners, for individuals and for organizations?

Imagine the convergence of forces at work in the rapidly shrinking distance between now and 2025, and consider the many service and attitude changes required of the career practitioner:

  • Activating global talent in the rapidity of economic bursts and crashes
  • Contending with changes in demography and increased longevity
  • Shifting dynamics of social relationships, and attitudes to life and work
  • Emerging social technologies and cloud computing
  • Continuing stress on energy resources for sustainable business and services

On October 26, 2011 the Association of Career Professionals International (Toronto Network) assembled a sterling panel of career and work experts to consider these issues under the leadership of moderator Betty Carr of Metroland Media Group Ltd. (Toronto Community News).

Panel members included:

Sandra Boyd, Principal, Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions
Gena Griffin, District President, Robert Half International, GTA District
Riz Ibrahim, Vice-President & General Manager, Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC)
Cathy Tait, Principal, Western Management Consultants
Mark Venning, Founder of Change and Vice-Chair of CERIC


Snapshot contributions from the Panel:

Gena Griffin

  • Global influences continue to create new and shifting markets, and intellectual capital is increasingly a “mobile asset”
  • Hiring and attracting talent is still a significant issue for 47% of executives surveyed
  • According to a study that polled Canadian human resources managers, 76% said etiquette breaches in technology and social media affect a person’s career prospects
  • Retention is an important focus for employers. Assess the risk of key staff leaving, and pay attention to ensuring staff are appreciated and recognized.

Cathy Tait

  • What happened to the demographic Armageddon we were promised as the baby boomers slipped off to retirement? Employees are staying in the workforce longer
  • Boomers are a deep resource of knowledge and experience as potential mentors
  • Keep hiring new graduates, as an investment in the future
  • Avoid consultant-speak and get to the point. Use practical tools for immediate use

Sandra Boyd

  • Career coaching conversations are terror–filled for many managers
  • Employees are now “accountable for own their own career”. What does that mean?
  • Conversations need to have clarity. Organizations too often deliver mixed messages and ambiguity about what it takes to get promoted and developed

Mark Venning

  • Employers would be wise to stop using the traditional, behavioural interview and replace it with a business discussion. This is for every employer, not just in the private sector
  • Conversations about deliverables and process should be continuous, not just at performance review time
  • Career Firms: How well are you engaging your alumni in your current service program?
  • Ditch the ‘soft’, wishy-washy language of our profession

Riz Ibrahim

  • In our Environics Survey, only 19% of Canadians reported understanding what needs to be done to advance in their organization
  • CERIC produced road shows across Canada with a focus on issues facing career professionals. Paradoxically, very few HR people attended
  • More and more people are taking jobs outside of their chosen profession
  • Where do people get their career advice? From the CERIC survey, career professionals rank in the bottom half of 20 resources (including people and sources of information) for career guidance!

Highlights from Small Group Discussions
(“What can career professionals do now – in response to these forces and shifts – to convince the consumer of the value of career services?”)

  1. Increase visibility with volunteer or other associations
  2. Public doesn’t recognize what we bring to career work; need to enhance the value brand under an umbrella of convincing benefits
  3. Broadcast success stories and implement/create best practices
  4. Customize and individualize approach to replace ‘paint by numbers’ method
  5. Lobby!

Moderator Betty Carr commented that the questions raised resonated with issues faced by business people across multiple sectors and industries.

On behalf of all attending, ACP International President Heather Turnbull was asked by Rhonda Singer, Toronto Network Chair to thank the outstanding panel members. Heather observed that the conversations were “passionate, spirited and cerebral. And for those who are unfamiliar with our Association this is truly our culture/DNA, our history for over 20 years supporting global career professionals.”


Report prepared by Donald Smith, CMF. Donald is the Board Secretary for ACP International – Toronto Network. Learn more about the association at


Donald Smith
Career planning and transition coach since 1980. Trained by Murray Axmith. Currently independent career coach, qualified with MBTI (Step 1 and 2), Stong and Birkman First Look. Former Governor with Institute of Career Certification International and Board member of Association of Career Professionals International (Toronto Network). Hold MSW degree and CMF (Fellow) designation with ICCI.

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