ContactPoint Come in and make Contact Fri, 21 Oct 2016 21:30:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Working with Epilepsy Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:19:07 +0000

By learning about free tools, resources and technology available, career professionals will be better placed to advocate for clients with epilepsy

By Carter Hammett

Here is a typical refrain from clients who find themselves in my office. An employee has epilepsy but has never disclosed their condition. They have always had a fairly good performance history when they have a seizure on the job. A well-managed, yet invisible disability quickly becomes “visible” and the employee becomes vulnerable in the process. Suddenly, there is an increase in worries about “performance on the job,” from superiors where no similar concerns existed before. Terms like “liability” and “concerns about productivity” enter the dialogue.

That is an unfortunate place to be for both employer and employee. Employers are concerned about productivity, absenteeism, accommodation costs and health and safety among other issues. Employees worry about discrimination, misunderstanding and accommodation and a host of other concerns. And they are frequently brought up as issues on both sides, especially by young graduates with epilepsy entering professional careers, unsure of whether to disclose their condition or not. Career professionals can play an important part in helping young graduates with epilepsy become more confident while helping them understand both their rights and how their disability might impact career choices.

The reality is, with a few exceptions, that most employees with epilepsy can do just about any job. There are a lot of successful actors, engineers and nurses living with epilepsy and some of them might be working with you.

Let’s first start with a few words about what epilepsy actually is. For the uninitiated, “epilepsy” is a chronic, neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. A seizure happens when abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an involuntary change in the person’s awareness or behaviour. Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has had two or more seizures that cannot be attributed to some other condition.

Anyone can develop epilepsy at any time during their life. Usually the cause is unknown, although it has been related to brain tumours, acquired brain injuries and infections. The condition is an “equal opportunity” disability affecting about 1 in 100 people from all cultures and ages.

Generally, there is virtually no difference in the performance between a worker with epilepsy and their non-disabled counterparts. Productivity is often equal to or better than employees without epilepsy and both workplace accidents and absenteeism are usually lower as well.

There’s always a few exceptions of course, and the usual reason given for discouraging certain careers is the risk of injury to the worker with epilepsy or the lives of others. Examples of this include but are not limited to: school bus driver, armed forces or pilot.

For other situations, it’s best to assess each case individually. Workplace accommodations will be determined by the employee’s seizure type, frequency and intensity. I always ask if a person owns their epilepsy or if their epilepsy owns them? In other words, how much knowledge and self-acceptance does the individual possess about their disability that can help guide employers to the best accommodations? Consider some key questions:

• What parts of the job are creating issues for the employee?

• How do these impact the employee’s performance?

• Can the job’s essential duties be performed? What accommodations has the employee identified?

• Are there possible side effects from medications to consider?

• Are there co-morbidities (conditions like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder that sometimes accompany epilepsy) that need to be addressed?

Job analysis

By placing emphasis on the job’s fundamental requirements and overall details, the position will become more accessible to the worker with epilepsy. One of the ways of doing this is performing a job analysis, which breaks a job into its essential functions. It also serves as a useful template for creating an accommodation plan. The first step should be to collect data on the following areas:

1. Duties and Tasks: The basic unit of a job is the performance of specific tasks and responsibilities. Data to be collected at this stage can include, effort, skill, equipment needs and standards among others. Questions to be asked include, “can specific elements of the job be reassigned or traded so the person can perform tasks more effectively?”

2. Environment: The physical layout of the workspace may present issues. Are the edges of desks and tables jagged or rounded? Can padding be placed on the floor? Is there glass around? All of these elements may have an impact on the physical requirements of the job. Is the environment hot? Cold? Noisy?

3. Tools: What tools are needed to effectively function on the job? These can include hardhats and work boots, but also assistive devices.

4. Relationships: This includes supervision given and received and the nature of the relationships with people inside and outside the workplace. Mentoring and coaching opportunities can also be helpful.

5. Requirements: What skills and abilities are needed to perform the job? What are the job’s minimum requirements? What are the performance expectations?

After these steps a list of accommodations are considered, including apps, coaching and environmental changes (including working from home and job carving as options) and implemented. The last phase is a review and follow up and opportunity to adjust accommodations that might not be effective.

Some seizure types require no accommodations at all. Others like tonic-clonic (grand mal) may mean that an employee will need sufficient time to recover from a seizure. The Job Accommodation Network suggests creating a private space for employees to regain their composure or possibly a place where a change of clothes can be stored.

Memory issues can be a tricky area for workers with epilepsy. Accommodations can include memory apps like task list, Remember the Milk or Evernote which can be tremendous assets for managing tasks and jogging the memory. Tried-and-true methods like chunking, which involves breaking tasks down into their step-by-step components can help reduce the risk of being overwhelmed in some workers with epilepsy. I like to recommend that the steps be placed on sticky notes and removed as each task is completed. This way the worker watches the workload shrink before their eyes. Most people carry phones these days but don’t think of utilizing the camera, notes, scheduling and voice notes features, all of which can have a great impact on enhancing a person’s productivity.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a common thread running through these suggestions is how inexpensive they are to implement. Indeed, most of these ideas are either low cost-or-no cost, which busts another myth that the disability is expensive to accommodate. With diversity and inclusiveness, a key part of most employment and retention strategies these days, jobseekers need to feel confident they have skills and talents to bring added value to a pluralistic workforce. Career professionals should educate themselves about epilepsy so that they can play a vital role in reinforcing that message.

Do you want to know more about assisting clients with epilepsy? Visit Epilepsy@Work, a free online, interactive, certification resource at


Carter Hammett is the Employment Services Manager with Epilepsy Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Community Studies degree along with diplomas in journalism, social work and adult education. His work has appeared in National Post, Toronto Star and Toronto Sun, among others. He is the author of three books including Benchmarking: A Guide to Hiring and Managing Persons with Learning Disabilities (ALDER, 2005). He can be reached at

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Canada’s Career Service Professionals: How Do They Differ Across Canada? Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:16:12 +0000

By Mario R. Gravelle

The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) plays a part in generating primary data about the career counselling and career development field. It has recently carried out a national survey to uncover the opinions of career service professionals in Canada. The online survey was conducted between October 19 and November 20, 2015. The 2015 survey was completed by 1,004 professionals in the field. CERIC undertook similar surveys in 2006, 2007 and 2011. Visit for additional materials showcasing survey findings, including slide decks by region.

This article will provide a brief regional comparison of some of the key findings from the CERIC 2015 Survey of Career Service Professionals. The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of those in the field, surface their professional development and competency improvement interests as well as issues pertaining to research and learning dissemination. Collecting just over 1,000 completed responses provides an opportunity to disaggregate the overall findings by regions – British Columbia (135), Prairies (152), Ontario (372), Quebec (187) and Atlantic Canada (127) – to see some of the commonalities and notable differences in the field.

Demographic information

Several survey questions focused on level of education as well as the area of focus in post-secondary studies. While over three-quarters of those in the field reported having at least an undergraduate university education, a closer look at the responses by regions shows that Quebec far outpaces the rest in terms of post-graduate completion. Over 80% of participants from that province have at least a Master’s level degree. This rate is twice as high as that of Atlantic Canada, which recorded the second highest at 41%, and almost three-times greater than the Prairies at 28%. Respondents were then asked to identify the specific field of study from their highest post-secondary level of education related to the career services field. As shown in Figure 1, “career development” ranked first most often in all regions while “social work” was mentioned least often.


The questionnaire then delved into the earnings of those in the career services field. Respondents from the Prairies earned the most (60% had a gross annual before deduction salary/income over $55,000) followed by Quebec (55%), Ontario (54%), British Columbia (49%) and Atlantic Canada (36%). Another question in this section asked about the state of succession planning in their organization. British Columbia has the highest level of workforce replacement preparedness as 55% of its respondents said that their organization has a succession plan in place. Ontario had the second highest (47%), followed by Atlantic Canada (45%) and the Prairies (41%). Quebec had by far the lowest rate at 28%.

Professional development and competency improvement

This section of the survey was designed to ascertain in what way and on what topics those in the field were interested in increasing their knowledge and aptitudes. Participants were asked, for instance, to rate (from “not a priority” to “essential priority”) their interest in enhancing their client practice competencies related to client job search over the next year. Those in the Prairies and Ontario revealed that learning more about “job search strategies” was most important to them (combining “high priority” and “essential priority”) while “job development” drew the highest interest from respondents in British Columbia, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Learning about “self-employment and operating a business” garnered the least interest nationally.

CERIC and the profession

This section included a range of queries to get the opinion of career professionals on the state of the field as well as if they feel that Canadians fully understand and appreciate their work. Figure 2 shows that the majority of those in the career services field across the country share the opinion that the general public’s impression of the value of what they do has improved.


More than two-thirds of those in Atlantic Canada believed that this is the case. However, a not insignificant share of respondents from British Columbia were of the opinion that the public’s perception has worsened. The one-fifth who held this opinion is almost twice as high as in any other region.

Research and learning dissemination

The survey’s closing section focused on how those in the career services field were collecting information and gauging the impact of their interventions. A core question asked “what types of data gathering is your organization undertaking?” Having clients complete an Exit Survey was the most common practice in all regions (between 48% to 60%) except for Atlantic Canada where filling out an Intake Survey was most frequent (65%). Participants were also asked if they are evaluating the impact of their career counselling/career development program or services. More than half of respondents noted that this is part of their work with the highest rate in the Prairies (68%) followed by Ontario (66%), Atlantic Canada (64%), British Columbia (56%) and Quebec (51%).

Where to learn more

For a detailed breakdown of the overall survey findings, an infographic, webinar recordings (English and French), video of the Gazing into the Crystal Ball: What’s on the Horizon for Career Development survey panel presentation from the Cannexus16 National Career Development Conference, a slide deck comparing the 2011 and 2015 surveys, as well as full slide decks by region referenced in this article, visit


Mario R. Gravelle is The Counselling Foundation of Canada’s Learning & Innovation Analyst. He is responsible for supporting funding requests as well as managing the Foundation’s grants. Gravelle likewise spearheads knowledge transfer activities to promote the work accomplished by the organization’s grant recipients. He also supports CERIC’s survey activities.

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It All Adds Up – A Campus Career Wellness Campaign Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:15:43 +0000

By Lisa Kuiper and Christine Fader

Transitioning from post-secondary studies to next steps has always been an exciting but somewhat anxious time for students.  With the pervasiveness of online media, terms such as “gig economy” and “precarious work” have entered the lexicon of students and their parents and are influencing how they view the world of work. Those of us who work with youth, especially at a university or college career centre, can attest to a sense of anxiety amongst the population we serve.  As career professionals, we also have a role to play in helping students understand how what they’re currently doing supports their future goals.

In an attempt to quell the anxiety that students and their parents are currently facing, Queen’s University launched the It All Adds Up initiative in 2014 as a partnership between the Career Services office and the Alma Mater Society student government, expanding it during 2015-16 to 18 other career centres on university campuses across Ontario. All the universities launched their campaigns together and over 1,100 Ontario university students participated during the two launch weeks in November 2015.

The campaign uses both Instagram photos and in-person conversations to help students reflect and share images about their academics, activities and interests while attending post-secondary.

When the campaign was expanded from one university to 19, an effort was made to make the campaign as easy for partner schools to engage in as possible. A toolkit was created that included a detailed workplan, shared graphic files (e.g. posters, Facebook banners, etc.), and sample correspondence.  This was shared with a co-ordinator at each school.

Outcomes in 2015-16 for participating career centres included greater profile, new collaborations with other units and positive media attention. The campaign was included in major events (e.g. career fairs), networking sessions (e.g. Waterloo), in peer-to-peer mentoring programs (e.g. Queen’s University) and in student staff training (e.g. Brock University). It was also part of mental health initiatives (e.g. Carleton University), a static career centre wall display, updated annually (e.g. University of Ottawa), graduating class events (e.g. UOIT) and embedded into regular programming such as counselling and programming interventions (e.g. OCADU). The program also ran in our second official language, French, on two campuses (York – Glendon and University of Ottawa). But, perhaps the most telling evidence of the benefits of this career centre collaboration:  100% of Career Centres Directors involved in this past year’s campaign were interested in participating again in the coming year.

The campaign was a success for students who didn’t know what to put on the board at first. Students were able to gather ideas from other participants and to reflect on their own accomplishments. Once they got started writing, they found it easier to express their thoughts and as a result, they saw their confidence levels rise and stress levels decrease.

In addition to positively impacting students’ confidence and decreasing the stress associated with thinking about career and future, this campaign is shaping a hopeful narrative on campuses that is reinforcing the value of a university degree and showcasing the talented and engaged students to a broader audience, including employers, professors and media professionals.

It All Adds Up is open to interested schools in Canada and farther afield in 2016-17. For more information and to learn how your career centre can get involved, follow #ItAllAddsUp on Instagram or visit:


Lisa Kuiper is the Employer Development Coordinator with Career Services at Brock University. She has worked within the human resources field for over 15 years in graduate recruitment, event management and employer development for Human Resources Development Canada (now Service Canada) and the Public Service Commission. She is an active member of the Career Association for Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) and the National Association of Career and Employers (NACE) as well as a Board member with the Human Resources Association of Niagara (HRPAN) and Pathstone Mental Health. 

Christine Fader works as a career counsellor and the communications lead at Queen’s Career Services.  She is the author of the “chick-lit” style career book, Career Cupid:  Your Guide to Landing and Loving Your Dream Job.

“The It All Adds Up campaign encourages students to stop and add up what they are doing, inside and outside the classroom. It’s eye-opening and a confidence boost. Knowing how much career centre staff already do, we tried to make this as plug and play/efficient for everyone to be involved with without using a ton more resources.”

Christine Fader, Queen’s University career counsellor

“This event allowed me to help other students recognize their potential and better understand the possibilities that life has to offer for them.  Not only does this campaign look into professional goals, it lets students examine their personal goals as well. My participation in this campaign was an eye-opening experience as it required me to think about all of my accomplishments. This campaign reminds students that the work we put in now will follow us throughout our lives, far past university!”

Lydia Collins, a student & Career Assistant at Brock University Career Services

“It’s exciting to see fellow students learning how our unique skills help us. This is also one of the best ways to reach students, through social media. It doesn’t take a lot of time and the technology for this is right at our fingertips.”

Holly Mathias, fourth-year Queen’s University student

“What this year’s campaign across the province has already shown is how significant and diverse today’s students’ experiences are — inside and outside the classroom. It All Adds Up gets students talking about those experiences and connecting the dots.”

Cathy Keates, Director of Career Services at Queen’s University

“These interactions also provided an opportunity for staff to educate students about how Career Services could help them with the career reflection process.”

Lisa Kuiper, Employer Development Manager at Brock University’s Career Services

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What I’ve Learned Supporting Arts and Culture Clients Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:08:31 +0000

The major fumble that career professionals make with arts-interested jobseekers is treating them as one or the other: arts-interested or a jobseeker, when in reality, creative clients require a different strategy

By Lauren Power

My job title is Arts and Culture Career Consultant. As far as I can tell, I’m a bit of a unicorn; outside of arts colleges, there are no other career professionals whose primary focus is helping creative individuals who have experienced difficulty developing a career path that is both meaningful and realistic.

Career professionals can feel stumped with how to proceed with their creative clients. It’s understandable, as arts clients are a peculiar bunch. Their career paths are, by nature, unorthodox.
The major fumble that career professionals make when approaching arts-interested jobseekers is treating them as one or the other: arts-interested or a jobseeker.

When faced with an arts-interested client, there’s desire to say “yes” to whatever plans he or she may create, for fear of crushing a dream – we call this “feeding the fantasy.” At the other end of the spectrum, well-meaning career professionals might portray a career attached to arts and culture simply as “unrealistic” and encourage them to move on.

We need a holistic approach to working with arts-interested clients.

In my experience, there are four lessons that can help.

Lesson 1: They are complex

Careers in arts and culture may be considered as whimsical, fanciful and less practical than other careers.

Arts-involved clients can be more complex than typical clients. The types of jobs that many arts-interested jobseekers target are different as they are in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector. By nature of their funding structure, many NFPs can only sustain temporary employment, not long-term jobs. Thus, there is a cycle of unemployment and disengagement from the workplace. For example, in Prince Edward Island in 2015, existing work experience programs had to change direction, away from funding short-term employment by NFPs, as NFPs were unable to sustain employment beyond the length of their wage subsidies.

Furthermore, creative individuals often spend time working for themselves. With no attachment to a traditional workplace, there’s a lack of support that most 9-to-5ers take for granted. These individuals miss out on things like paid vacation and the benefits of daily socialization. Without steady employment, wage instability is a major challenge for creative workers. As such, these clients might need supports in areas from work-related stress to traumatic work-related incidents and each client will need a more robust approach to employability skills.

Lesson 2: They need “the blend”

We don’t force our participants to choose between work and art, because, in the modern labour market, most arts-attached professionals manage both.

Ask any arts-involved professional and they’ll tell you the same: you’ve got to embrace “the blend.”

When we talk with clients about “the blend,” we’re talking about the approach to employment that involves pursuing multiple careers or vocations simultaneously, though we may call it a “hybrid career” or a “slash” (as in, playwright/barista or model/actress).

Among arts professionals, a blended career means that a work week may be divided into two or more distinctive career paths that provide them the ability to pursue their passions in an unorthodox way.

For many, the ups-and-downs of contract work and the freelance game are mellowed by the consistency of a day job. My mental Rolodex contains visual artists, musicians, ballet dancers, filmmakers and performers, all of whom engage in complementary employment to keep the bills paid.

From the perspective of the art-interested client, the blended approach is an opportunity to improve work-life balance over what is possible in most career paths for artists.

This type of learned resiliency is a model for the modern workplace: flexible, knowledgeable, skilled and open to opportunity.

How do we make it happen?

Lesson 3: They need different skills

I encourage clients to take responsibility for their skill development: creative and non-creative. Keeping your skills sharp is an important piece of creativity. Learning new things in your area of expertise as well as outside of your strengths can spark new associations that lead to fresh ideas. It’s as true for artists as it is for jobseekers.

In our experience, entrepreneurial skills are under-appreciated and not codified or captured when young people are documenting their skills sets, leading many to undersell themselves. There are thinking skills that arts and cultural expertise build, but rarely do we assist individuals with understanding the different modes of thinking and how they can apply them to the challenge of labour market participation.

Some skills are particular to arts professionals, like pricing, marketing and art evaluation. To help your client through these inquiries, you’ll need to call in the experts.

Lesson 4: They need perspective

One benefit of working with arts-interested clients is their creative minds. The concept of examining the world through a different lens is second nature to a creative individual. They are natural explorers and investigators.

However, in conversation with clients, there’s often a mental block regarding their skills. When you first introduce the idea of “the blend,” they can’t fathom it. To accept a day job is akin to abandoning a life’s ambition. Add in years of well-meaning parental advice, discouraging the “arts as a career” route, and it manifests as a disconnect with the job market, as they feel that they are “outside” of the in-demand job market, despite their skills.

To help them envision a career path that includes long-lasting, sustainable work (and to break the habit of pre-judging non-arts work as personally unsuitable), these clients need to spend time with arts-involved and non-arts-involved professionals. They observe, interact with and learn from working professionals that exemplify the broad range of skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the current and future labour market.

I introduce this idea as “cross-training”: building knowledge and experience in two or more fields to improve their overall performance.

These activities have the bonus of training arts-interested clients in networking. Learning how to open the lines of communication and make yourself visible are invaluable skills.

At its core, the way we help arts-interested clients with career maintenance is the same way we help every client: encourage them to reach out. Creative individuals live and work in creative communities. To see someone live, work and succeed in their chosen field can be a revelation for a jobseeker, and it can sustain them long after they have left your office.


Lauren Power is the Arts & Culture Career Consultant (MEd, 2007) at the Murphy Centre (, serving people at all ages and stages of career development. He works, writes and teaches in St. John’s, NL. You can reach him at


Beck-Tauscher, S. (2010, January 22). Hybrid careers: Gaining momentum in the workplace [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Dex, S., Willis, J., Paterson, R. and Sheppard, E. (2000), “Freelance workers and contract uncertainty: the effects of contractual changes in the television industry,” Work, Employment and Society, Vol. 14, pp. 283-305.

Hamill, K. (2014, September 17). “Monochromatic” job titles are becoming obsolete, or: Embracing being a hybrid [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Work Experience PEI job program cut by 70% (2015, July 8). CBC News. Retrieved from

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Navigating the Uncertain Terrain of the New Retirement Workscape Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:06:35 +0000

We need to update how we view retirement to better respond to the hopes, anxieties and motivations of those who seek post-retirement work options

By Cameron Klapwyk

My 60-year-old father is set to sell his small business at the end of the year. His plan is to consult with the new owner of the business for two years and then retire. When I asked him what he plans to do with all of his free time after retiring he replied, “Honestly I have no idea. I’m a little worried about what my life will look like without work in it.”

For many considering retirement, anxieties revolve around life-savings. How much is enough? How long should I expect to live after retirement? Have I properly calculated my cost of living? As such, financial advisors are traditionally the primary source of counsel for those considering retirement. This article argues that career professionals need to be brought into the retirement planning process as well. It will explore the ways in which retirement and work are no longer mutually exclusive as an increasing number of Canadian retirees are seeking employment options. And while their motivations are as diverse as their job roles, it is imperative that well-rounded career professionals understand how to serve the needs of this emergent demographic. More than just counting dollars and cents, future retirement strategies will increasingly be about finding work arrangements that make sense.

For many considering retirement, anxieties revolve around life-savings. How much is enough? How long should I expect to live after retirement? Have I properly calculated my cost of living? As such, financial advisors are traditionally the primary source of counsel for those considering retirement. This article argues that career professionals need to be brought into the retirement planning process as well. It will explore the ways in which retirement and work are no longer mutually exclusive as an increasing number of Canadian retirees are seeking employment options. And while their motivations are as diverse as their job roles, it is imperative that well-rounded career professionals understand how to serve the needs of this emergent demographic. More than just counting dollars and cents, future retirement strategies will increasingly be about finding work arrangements that make sense.

Prior to the 20th century, very few Canadians enjoyed the luxury of retirement. When the Old Age Pensions Act was passed in 1927, the age of eligibility was 70 and life expectancy was just over 60. It was not until 1968 that Old Age Security eligibility was lowered to 65. At that time, few Canadians enjoyed more than five years of retirement. Today, some Canadians can expect to spend a quarter of their lives in retirement! It is clear that the legacy of retirement policy nearly half a century old has established an expectation that by age 65 we ought to be retired. This expectation remains unabated despite significant demographic shifts.

Traditionally, retirement has been associated with leisure. The term retirement is literally defined by Webster’s Dictionary as the act of ending your working or professional career. But as early as 1986, psychologists proposed that we begin to think about retirement as a process rather than a singular event. For each retiree this process looks different, but it’s instructive to note that at present, more than 650,000 Canadians over the age of 65 work in paying jobs. This is more than double the number in the same situation 10 years ago. And a 2012 CIBC poll found that over half of Canadians in their 50s plan to keep on working after they retire in their 60s. We need to reconfigure our thinking on retirement. In doing so we will better be able to respond to the hopes, anxieties and motivations of those who seek post-retirement work options.

So what does this “new retirement” look like? For many, it involves what organizational psychologist Kenneth Schultz refers to as bridge employment. This early period of retirement marks a transition between an individual’s career job and their complete workforce withdrawal. A 2010 collaboration study between the Families and Work Institute and The Sloan Center on Aging and Work found that individuals who work in retirement, “seek out jobs that meet their needs and preferences, most notably a climate of respect, work-fit, supervisor task support and learning opportunities.” They add that self-employment is also an attractive option for working retirees, particularly those unable to find a flexible and suitable workplace. Further research suggests that those who have spent their lives in physically demanding jobs are more apt to want to leave the workforce altogether, while those whose role involved more knowledge-based work will often continue working in a field where they can apply transferable experience. Others, as they approach retirement age, find themselves being nudged out of their career role because, as current Finance Minister Bill Morneau stated in The Real Retirement, “they literally price themselves out of their jobs when their vacation entitlement benefits, and cash compensation grow faster than their productivity at a certain stage in their careers.”

The trend to stay in the workforce later in life is influenced by both financial and psychological needs and desires. As life expectancies continue to increase, many individuals are healthy enough to work well past the age of 65. Some desire to continue occupying work roles that have always imbued their life with meaning. Many others simply cannot afford to quit working full-stop.

An excellent 2014 study, Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with consultancy Age Wave, explores a phenomenon termed “the new retirement workscape” and argues that that retirement can be divided into four distinct phases: pre-retirement, career intermission, re-engagement and leisure. About half of the retirees surveyed in the study took a break between retirement and re-engagement with the world of work: career intermission. While this break, which averaged about 29 months allowed for psychological benefits as the individual explores next steps, the passing of time made re-entry into the workforce more difficult.

Work in Retirement classified working retirees into four categories. An understanding of the dynamics of each of these categories is useful for career professionals working with pre-retirement clients considering future employment options. The table below explores the motivations, work attitudes and career guidance strategies for each of these client categories.


Each of these groups has distinctly unique motivations for re-entering the workforce post-retirement. As a result, career counsellors working with clients considering their retirement options need to be intentional about holistically responding to the various factors that will influence their client’s decision-making process. These include, but are not limited to:

a. Relationship commitments
b. Physical and mental health
c. Housing and transportation needs
d. Education and training needs
e. Past experience and transferable skills
f. Desire for leisure
g. Ability to job search in current job market
h. Strength with technology

Many clients nearing retirement are fixated on their age, and not without reason given that ageism is prevalent in what Peter Drucker has referred to as “the knowledge society.” Career professionals should employ a strengths-based approach that does not allow clients to fixate on their shortcomings, limitations and worries. The brave new world of the retirement workscape can be a daunting place, and it is one that should not be explored alone.

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Cameron Klapwyk is a Career Management Consultant with Career Aviators in Guelph, ON. He is currently completing the Career Development Practitioner program at Conestoga College. Klapwyk’s previous work experience includes non-profit marketing and refugee settlement.

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An Authentic and Experiential Career Development Model for Everybody Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:06:03 +0000 The Career Internship Program re-imagines the way we deliver career education, connecting students to their vast potential – and provides a replicable model for other high schools

By Adriano Magnifico

High schools often proclaim graduation as the key measure of high school success. Overall grad rates continue to rise throughout the country. The Government of Manitoba reported that the provincial rate has steadily climbed over the last 10 years from 71% to 87% and continues to inch ahead. In May, the Toronto Star reported that Ontario’s graduation rate increased from 68% in 2004 to 85.5% in 2016. But too many students meander towards graduation with a sole focus on accumulating credits, rather than on building a strong base of knowledge and skills that will help them thrive in post-high school life. And most schools don’t like to admit it, but they drag a lot of kids over that finish line.

While graduation is an important milestone, it is NOT the finish line. In an ultra-competitive global economy with ever evolving work cultures, the high school experience must be a springboard for life and career possibilities. Too many high school graduates today have no idea what to do with their lives and have done minimal prep for life after grad. High school students generally turn to the guidance counsellor for career advice. Trouble is, those university/college talks, online assessments and career symposiums have a needle-in-a-haystack effect. Pick something and go for it? What if it’s the wrong call? What if a student simply can’t decide what to choose?

Back in 2000, Christine Esselmont, a student at River East Collegiate in Winnipeg, wrote an editorial in the school newspaper that defined a student’s career conundrum: “All high school students would benefit greatly from a program where you’re able to try a variety of different careers throughout the year…. Fully understanding what future careers involve is the only way to make a decision about what you want to do with the rest of your life.” Christine’s insight is especially apt in 2016, with work and careers in a continual state of upheaval. Now, more than ever, schools need to offer career programming to help students make proactive and intelligent decisions about their proper fit in the world.

Adapting to a changing world

The single path to a single career is becoming a thing of the past. Career pundits and economic think-tanks prognosticate that today’s worker will likely change career paths at least a dozen times as jobs evolve and others die out. Digital applications and technologies, artificial intelligence, automation, The Internet of Things and global competition are changing the way people explore, seek and land jobs. Any journalist, postal worker, lawyer, teacher, financial advisor, professor, factory worker or truck driver can speak to workplace tensions over job security, pensions, global competition, living wages or precarious employment.

The Google-sponsored Economist Intelligence Unit report, Driving the skills agenda: Preparing students for the future, details problem-solving, teamwork and communication as high-in-demand skills at workplaces and frequently lacking in young workers; and also identifies digital literacy, creativity and entrepreneurship as essential skills for the network-filled world of the future. Sitting in rows, staying in one building, reading obsolete textbooks or putting away distracting smartphones upon entering a classroom do not address these needs.

Serious disengagement out there

Research reveals that half of Canadian high school classrooms are intellectually disengaged. Winnipeg’s Louis Riel School Division’s 2014 and 2015 Tell Them from Me surveys follows this disturbing trend – just under 50% of its high school students are disengaged in their studies. Disengaged students become disengaged employees.

When students connect to experiences and opportunities that help them figure out who they are, what they’re capable of becoming, what skills they have and who values their skills beyond school walls, school work becomes powerfully relevant and, not surprisingly, extremely engaging.

Everyone is eligible

Since 1995, the Career Internship Program (CIP), located at Windsor Park Collegiate in the Louis Riel School Division, has earned local and national awards for its innovative curriculum design, student-centered pedagogical format and personalized career focus.

CIP is inclusive – any grade 11 or 12 in the regular academic program is eligible. When schools develop new programs, organizers usually target resources towards a particular demographic, often at-risk or gifted students. CIP targets the average student who makes up the vast majority of every school population and for whom no unique or specialized programming exists.

CIP systemically injects innovative career-visioning into traditional high school timetables. The program targets any grade 11 and 12 student and is not prescriptive. Each student chooses courses and activities that meet his/her need, all intertwined within a traditional academic timetable.

Since 1995, 97% of the 2,000+ graduates have recommended the program to peers. Kaila Reger, 2005 CIP grad and current Project Manager at Eccol Electric, says that “CIP was the best decision I made in high school. So often schools focus on academics and fail to teach students about important soft skills. CIP bridged important skill gaps that helped me end up with the career I have today.”

CIP has many classrooms

CIP students participate in many out-of-class experiences for course credit: designing a hovercraft to compete in a CME competition, joining a Junior Achievement Chapter, completing job shadows and internships, participating in Toastmaster’s training, volunteering everywhere, coaching a community club hockey team, attending Chamber of Commerce/professional association meetings or implementing lean start-ups – any activity that ignites personal curiosity and engagement with the community. All students are encouraged to step off the beaten path and explore the unknown. Neuroscientist Gregory Berns discovered that the brain grows and rewires its potential for creativity and new possibilities when people attempt novel challenges and engage in new activities.

The Internet becomes a space to develop a personal brand, and to discover the potential of digital tools to aid assignments and community projects. Students persevere through challenging interdisciplinary partnership projects that test their mettle. Curiosity, diminished through a compartmentalized school system, re-emerges with a veracity that builds confidence and character.

1998 CIP grad Michael Wasylyk recalls that CIP allows “you to paint a picture that you can leverage and understand throughout your life. In CIP, I wrote a biz plan and started a skating school called Canadian Bladex that was successful and revealed to me that I could do anything.”

The CIP model has evolved into four other high schools in the Louis Riel School Division. One CIP hybrid, The Imagine Program, has taken off in Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. A participant and 2016 Loran Scholar, Bilal Ayyache, says, “I’ve learned how to lead, work on teams, be creative and come up with innovative ideas, things you don’t get in the regular courses. Imagine helped me discover things about myself I never knew; I created an amazing story that caught the attention of the Loran Scholar interviewers. It has changed my life.”

Re-imagining career education

Life and work are experiencing a cultural and technological shift at a breathtaking pace, the type of global transformation we have not seen since the last century’s Industrial Revolution.

Strategic, systemic career development can be a powerful catalyst for linking school to self-awareness, skill development and professional networks. Only when students authentically experience a multitude of career possibilities and understand the evolving demands of workplaces, can they truly envision possibilities for life and work, what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee dub the“second machine age.”

The Career Internship Program offers a way to re-think the way we deliver career education, connecting students to their best selves and their vast potential in a hyper-connected world. And, the program’s longevity has allowed it to iterate and pivot into a replicable model for high schools.

It’s time to re-imagine the way high schools do career education. Our students are depending on us.



Adriano Magnifico is the Career and Entrepreneurship Consultant in the Louis Riel School Division located in Winnipeg, MB and the creator of the Career Internship Program. He can be reached at

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The Four Faces of Indecision Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:03:17 +0000

A model for increasing clients’ ability to tolerate uncertainty and to foster productive career exploration in the indecisive person

By Isabelle Falardeau

Anxiety is a normal emotion we experience when we’re apprehensive about a distressing event that may threaten our physical or psychological integrity. It puts us in a vigilant state, which allows us to mobilize our resources in order to tackle the challenge successfully. Abnormal anxiety, on the other hand, occurs when a person overestimates or imagines a danger, while underestimating his or her capacity to deal with it. It’s normal to feel a certain degree of anxiety when it comes time to making a career decision. In fact, many anxiety-provoking questions are part and parcel of the career-choice process: What if I choose the wrong career? Will I find a job at the end of my training? Will I be happy and good at this work? What if I don’t like my job after 10 years? Abnormal career anxiety is seen in people who have a low tolerance for uncertainty. Unfortunately for these people, the career counselling process is peppered with this uncertainty, from beginning to end. In such a situation, the only way people can reduce their anxiety is to learn how to tolerate the grey areas, the unanswered questions, ambiguous information, and so on.

Depending on where they sit in the normal vs exaggerated anxiety spectrum, our clients can be divided into two broad categories: those who are able to tolerate career-choice uncertainty, and those who have such difficulty coping with this uncertainty that they seek to avoid the feeling through a range of behaviours (e.g. latching onto their first idea, avoiding thinking about their indecision). Obviously, people do not necessarily fit neatly into one of these two categories, and the dividing line can be somewhat porous.

In addition to tolerance for uncertainty in their career choice, our clients exhibit varying degrees of career exploration behaviours, which can advance their thought process toward a reasoned decision. Based on these two facets of indecision – uncertainty tolerance and career exploration – here are the four distinct faces of career indecision.

The four faces of indecision


The curious and engaged (Box 1) is the ideal client, one who is able to manage their uncertainty and does their homework by gathering the educational and professional information they need. They show up for meetings and fully participate in the conversation. They experience normal, necessary and passing indecision. However, the indecision experienced by our clients in the other three categories is a source of suffering, which drags down or blocks the career counselling process, for different reasons in each case. To counsel them successfully, you need to move your blocked clients in Boxes 2 to 4 toward Box 1. It is therefore not a matter of reducing their indecision but increasing their ability to tolerate their career uncertainty and to foster action-taking in the indecisive person – in other words, transforming their “dysfunctional” indecision into “constructive” indecision.

How to help the passive nonchalant (Box 2)

Eddy is a high school student and goes to see a guidance counsellor. He needs to choose his program for the following year. Eddy has never given much thought to his future career. He likes sports and video games. He shows some irritation in response to the counsellor’s questions.

Possible strategies to help him include: suggesting he take a test (preferably online) to spark his interest and avoid a painful series of one-on-one questions with the counsellor that he can’t answer; giving him some food for thought regarding time (without moralizing) to show how his present can impact his future; asking him questions to explore why he might be having a negative reaction to career counselling (becoming an adult means working and not having fun anymore; was pressured into seeking guidance counselling by family or society); exploring with him the places where he can find information on post-secondary education; putting him in touch with people working in various potential fields; encouraging him to make a preliminary program choice, rather than career choice; writing down a few concrete potential career options and an action plan.

How to help the scattered and confused (Box 3)

Maria has to apply to university. She’s been questioning her career choice for years and constantly changes her mind. She is interested in several areas of study, which she has explored abundantly, but can’t seem to choose one over the other. She is even losing sleep over it.

Possible counselling strategies include: discussing how uncertainty is an inherent part of the career counselling process, and that the key is to learn how to be at peace with questions you don’t have a definite answer to; reframing indecision in a positive light as a state of awareness and openness, which ensures you cast a wide net and won’t inadvertently limit your options; proposing some decision-making tools (comparison table, decision tree); suggesting how compromises can be made after deciding against certain career options (e.g. playing music as a pastime, helping people through volunteer work, learning a language and travelling outside of work); defusing the drama of a “wrong” decision; referring for psychological services, in cases of excessive anxiety.

How to help the stalled dreamer (Box 4)

Gregory wants to become a police officer. It’s been a dream of his since he was a young boy. His father is a police officer, and Gregory admires him a lot. His application to college has been rejected twice, because his grades weren’t high enough. He is seeking the help of a guidance counsellor to find a strategy to be accepted into the police training program, once and for all.

Possible counselling strategies include: understanding, first off, that this client’s close-mindedness to other career options is masking a great deal of anxiety under the surface; identifying the reasons he wants to become a police officer, and gleaning from them his underlying values (helping people, respecting the law, being part of a team, doing physical work); maintaining a glimmer of hope that his Plan A of being a police officer could one day work out (this will help him consider substitute career choices that might be more realistic); tactfully pointing out the discrepancy between the admission requirements and his grades or skills; supporting him in exploring career options that align with his values; discussing the negative consequences of doggedly pursuing one option only (loss of time, money, accumulation of rejections and failed attempts, loss of self-esteem); finding compromises to help him let go of this dream (keeping physically active in his personal life, helping people in a different capacity); showing a lot of empathy regarding the mourning he has to do; framing passing indecision in a positive light, and fostering tolerance for uncertainty.

Each client with indecision issues presents a unique and sometimes complex case. I have identified four categories of indecision to help orient you, so that you can adapt your professional practices accordingly. Incidentally, stalled dreamers can be such challenging cases that I have devoted an upcoming book to this category.


Isabelle Falardeau has been a career counsellor since 2000 and a psychologist since 1985. Having pursued a career in the college system, she now carries on a private practice in north Montreal. Falardeau has written several books on indecision, two of which won her OCCOQ awards, in 2000 and 2008, respectively.

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Career Briefs Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:01:05 +0000 What is the future of jobs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum released a report earlier this year on The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, analyzing current disruptions to business models with data collected from over 13 million employees across nine industries globally and 15 major developing and emerging economies.

Using the collected data, the report makes predictions on future skills needs, recruitment patterns and occupational requirements as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the time period that we are currently experiencing, according to some industry observers – which is marked by developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing and biotechnology.

While skills sets that are currently in demand may continue to remain so in the future, many will differ with the expected emergence of new jobs and industries. The report predicts that 39% of jobs across all industries will require complex problem-solving skills, only 4% of jobs will demand physical strength, and social skills, including emotional intelligence, will be in higher demand than narrow technical skills. The report also focuses on the need and benefit of promoting a diverse workforce.

To read the full report, visit


Maternity Leave Guides benefit employers and employees

Women make up approximately 50% of Canada’s labour force and account for 58% of post-secondary graduates. Of the working women who do become mothers, 90% will take a maternity leave. However, 36% of new mothers feel that taking maternity leave negatively impacts their opportunity for promotions, career development and career progression.
Canada Career Counselling, with funding from CERIC, has developed two new guides – Making It Work! How to Effectively Navigate Maternity Leave Career Transitions: An Employee’s Guide and An Employer’s Guide – to assist employers and employees in developing positive career management practices for facilitating maternity leave.
The Employer’s Guide is intended for anyone who employs, leads, manages, trains, coaches or supports pregnant, adoptive and parenting women at work.
The Employee’s Guide is intended for women taking a maternity leave,  and equally applicable to women who are experiencing their first or subsequent maternity leave career transition.

The guides cover: redefining career advancement; communications and return-to-work plans; and flexible work options.

To access both guides, visit and


November is Canada Career Month!

The Canadian Council for Career Development (3CD) has declared November 2016 as Canada Career Month. This new initiative seeks participation from career professionals, educators, employers, governments, agencies and the Canadian public in general.

Participation in Canada Career Month can vary from hosting events, writing articles and blogs on career management, posting videos on community events, devoting a professional development day to career development within organizations, and adding a career development component to panel discussions and conferences.

The 3CD is spearheading several events, including a Career Day on Parliament Hill set for November 3, community events at regional schools, offices and job fairs, a docuseries launch as well as media appearances.

Share how you are planning on celebrating Canada Career Month or find out how you can get involved by visiting, the Canada Career Month Facebook page at CCMSCC or by following @careermonth on Twitter.


New Certification for career professionals section on ContactPoint

The newest section on the ContactPoint online community lists certifications and designations of interest to career development professionals across Canada. It provides brief descriptions of professional certifications offered, provincially, nationally and internationally with links to more information.

Earning professional certification allows career professionals to stay relevant, better support their clients, validates their expertise and skills and helps enhance the credibility of the career development field.

Members of ContactPoint are welcome to add any certification or designation to the list. Create your free ContactPoint account and click the Add a Listing button or email with the details.

A program of CERIC, ContactPoint is an online community dedicated to providing multi-sector career development professionals with resources, learning and networking opportunities. ContactPoint also has a sister French site, OrientAction, with distinct content geared to francophone career development professionals.

View the Certification section at


Every university and college student should access work-integrated learning

Making work-integrated learning (WIL) a fundamental part of the Canadian undergraduate experience has been set as a national goal by Canada’s Business/Higher Education Roundtable, a year-old organization representing some of the country’s leading companies and post-secondary institutions.

Roundtable members agreed to work together to ensure 100% of Canadian post-secondary students benefit from some form of meaningful work-integrated learning. Their commitment includes a national campaign to promote the importance of WIL, and a series of WIL pilot projects focused on meeting regional and sectoral workforce needs and improving school-to-work transitions for young Canadians.

According to Universities Canada, 55% of undergraduate students currently benefit from some form of WIL during their studies. A 2011 survey by Higher Education Strategy Associates found that among university undergraduates, 16% had participated in a co-op and 18% participated in internships, placements or practicum programs. Meanwhile, 70% of college students participate in some form of WIL, according to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Roundtable members also encouraged the growth and development of WIL programs beyond traditional co-ops and internships, such as capstone projects, hackathons, industry challenges, mentorship programs and boot camps.

Learn more at


Best practices for working with Inuit clients

With few existing targeted measures to foster the career development and ongoing employment of Inuit clients, a reference guide, Pinasuutitsaq, was created to help fill this gap. While this resource is designed for career counsellors who work with Inuit peoples, it is also relevant for other professionals, such as social workers or teachers.

The guide offers strategies that highlight good practices, as well as pitfalls which should be avoided, and is divided into four chapters:

1. Contextualization: A brief summary of the Inuit context, major employment challenges and culture
2. Issues: Targeted courses of action related to 12 common issues
3. Strategies: 50 effective strategies for interventions with an Inuit clientele organized according to 11 themes
4. Resources: References and other resources to further explore various themes or subjects

The guide was developed by Regroupement québécois des organismes pour le développement de l’employabilité (RQuODE) with project funding support from CERIC and the Kativik Regional Government and is available in English and French.

To access the guide, visit

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Working as Peer Career Advisors Helps Students Conquer Their Own Career Indecision Sun, 16 Oct 2016 17:58:49 +0000 Encouraging post-secondary students to become peer advisors can increase their personal career clarity and assist them to make the link between post-secondary study and work

By Analise Anderson-Ma

Two years ago, I began a Master of Arts in Higher Education, focusing on student development theory. As classes were beginning, I was offered a part-time role in the University of Toronto’s St George Career Centre. In this role, I assisted in co-ordinating the Peer Career Advisor Program, the first-stop for career advice at the University of Toronto Career Centre. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to synthesize my in-class learning with my real-world experience when I decided to focus my thesis on the peer career advisors’ (peers) development. I collected data from participants using a mixed methods approach, including pre-post tests of career clarity and bi-weekly journal entries. As part of my study, I looked at the impact of their role on their own career clarity development.

The peer career advisors involved in this study were hired as part-time students, working a total of 8-12 hours per week between late August and early February. Peer career advisors are often the first point of contact for students at the Career Centre, responsible for meeting with students one-on-one to understand the career-related needs and questions each student brings to the Career Centre, and providing recommendations to resources that would be particularly helpful to each student. Therefore, when hiring peer career advisors, we look for students who have excellent verbal communication and advising skills, genuine interest in helping fellow students, and an introductory understanding of tasks involved in career exploration.

In total, 14 peers participated, 10 of who were preparing to graduate in the next year and were in their fourth-year of study or greater (undergraduate or graduate studies). Since the program mostly employs upper-year students as peer career advisors, those hired are often in the role for just one year. At the start of the study, six participants reported they had decided on a career after graduation, while four answered they had “maybe” decided and another four hadn’t yet decided. All of those who had not yet decided were in their final year of study. This is worrying, considering how close to graduation (and the decisions that accompany this life change – like choosing a full-time role in the world of work, or choosing to continue on to graduate study) these students are.

Participants were motivated to be peers for several reasons including skill development, with 13 of 14 participants motivated by the opportunity for personal skill development and 10 motivated by the opportunity to develop skills applicable within their anticipated career. Half (50%) were also motivated by the opportunity to gain knowledge that would assist in developing career clarity.

So, were the participants successful in gaining that career clarity-related knowledge? It seems that they were! Four participants reported an increased awareness around the types of career opportunities their education and experiences were preparing them for, indicating that these participants had developed a greater understanding of how their knowledge and skills would be applicable at work. Additionally, three participants reported increased knowledge in each of the following areas: how to establish a job search and a professional network; day-to-day work; and trade-offs required to achieve the kind of lifestyle desired five years after graduating (although three participants also reported this had become less clear since the pre-test). This indicates that participants had developed greater knowledge of their work lives and how to find work. The knowledge that participants reported having gained with regard to career clarity aligns with the topics on which they advise students through their roles as peer career advisors. In addition to developing this knowledge through their roles, participants also reported that attendance at Career Centre workshops (including those specifically for peers), job fairs and meetings with career educators were also helpful in developing this knowledge.

Peers were also asked to describe behavioural changes since the pre-test (for example, joining a career-related co-curricular club or organization, speaking with professionals about their work or participating in job shadowing opportunities). While three participants had joined a career-related club or organization since the pre-test, participants did not report participation in any additional activities, indicating that although participants are developing career clarity-related knowledge, they weren’t putting it to use. When asked about barriers to development, the most frequent response was lack of free time and a need to balance multiple priorities. When asked what might be helpful in overcoming this barrier, one participant mentioned a “workshop for students balancing work (employment) and education [to] gain tips and techniques to more effectively balance job and education.”

Another reason the participants may not be taking action to increase career clarity might be that although they have gathered general career-related knowledge (narrowing their options down to a field of interest), they require further knowledge to understand its real-world applicability. For example, one of the participants who had decided to pursue graduate study stated, “the abundance of [program] options led to some confusion,” about which program would be the best fit. Another participant described lacking clarity about how knowledge and skills developed during undergraduate study were applicable to new graduate job opportunities available today. Some of the participants recognized that conducting informational interviews with university admissions staff and industry professionals might help to close this knowledge gap. The St George Career Centre offers several workshops and programs, including a database of contacts, intended to prepare students for participation in informational interviews.

We recognize that students will, throughout their time in school, be managing multiple priorities (e.g., academic work, part-time jobs, co-curricular involvement and personal commitments). Therefore, we must find ways to help students develop career clarity as part of those activities that are their top-of-mind commitments. For example, peer career advisors attend reflection-based meetings focused on identifying skills they are developing through their roles, and thinking through how these skills might be explained to employers. Another program offered by the Career Centre embeds career exploration curriculum in second-year classrooms, and offers students the opportunity to be matched with a job shadowing placement reflective of the kind of work students might complete several years after graduating. Initiatives like these can help students bridge the gap between recognizing a need to gather career-related knowledge and taking action toward career clarity.


Analise Anderson-Ma works as a Career Exploration Co-ordinator at the St George Career Centre in the University of Toronto. Anderson-Ma completed her thesis entitled Development of Peer Advisors’ Competencies and Career Clarity in the St George Career Centre at the University of Toronto under supervision of Dr Katharine Janzen (OISE/UT). She was a recipient of CERIC’s Graduate Student Engagement Program Award. If you’d like more information on this project, contact

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Expanding Employer Engagement in Career Development Sun, 16 Oct 2016 17:23:18 +0000 By Phil Jarvis, Director of Inspire Partnerships, Career Cruising

A minority of all career professionals are engaged in K-12 career development. Nonetheless, we all deal with clients who are products of public education. With 12 years under their belts one might expect high school leavers to have a sense of purpose, direction and confidence as they embark on adult life. Regrettably, the majority don’t. They “career craft” (Cathy Campbell/CERIC) for a decade or more until they commit to, or settle for, something which may be far less than ideal.

K-12 education is about preparing students for the next level of primary or secondary education, and ultimately post-secondary education. What happens to students when they transition from school to work is not deemed the responsibility of educators. The underlying assumption is that with enough curriculum in their heads students will morph into fully engaged citizens capable of taking on anything. Those of us who stepped out of education into the unknown know how unprepared we were for the world beyond school.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Youth Employment Series may be a catalyst to real systemic change in K-12 education.

“Students in this country remain largely uninformed of potential career pathways and the relevance of academics to the workplace. They are at risk not only of dropping out of school, but also unemployment, underemployment, or a large sum of education debt and no direction.”
Connected to Careers: Expanding Employer Leadership in Career Development, September 2016, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Primary author/researcher Erica Kashiri and her colleagues argue that, despite best intentions, as long as school counsellors “own” career development, students and employers will be under-served. They offer a “new framework that positions employers as customers of career development activities who are then responsible for locating the right partners to deliver high-quality employer account management.”

The US Chamber is the voice of more than 3 million employers across the US. This paper challenges those employers to organize and fund a new “Employer Account Manager” role.  People in this role would come from business. They would be responsible for building and maintaining relationships between education and the business community by ensuring career development practices are high quality and meet local workforce needs. Their key activities would be:

  • Representing the business community within schools
  • Serving as a subject matter expert on career pathways
  • Vetting and matching students with employers
  • Validating skills acquired during work-based learning experiences
  • Organizing high-quality and diverse talent sourcing networks


USCCF offers Vermilion Advantage as an example of “business-driven employer account management in practice:”

“Vermilion Advantage is an economic development corporation based in Danville, Illinois, and borne out of a merger with the regional chamber of commerce. As a membership organization, Vermilion Advantage is dedicated to strengthening the local economy and increasing business investments in the region. Specifically, four industry cluster work groups meet regularly to update their job forecasts for new and replacement positions. They then decide how to share that information with area schools and to develop a plan of action to support career exploration activities for students in grades K-14.

In 2010, Vermilion Advantage entered a consulting agreement with Danville High School (DHS) to provide on-site career-related services from its workforce development specialist. This position has separate responsibilities from school counselors and academic advisors, but DHS serves as a host to connect the professional to the larger education team. The position is part time and is provided an office on the grounds to administer career resources, review resumes, and connect youth to employers through mentorships, job shadows, internships, part-time employment, and other career development activities. This workforce development specialist is directly responsible for having a deep understanding of the needs of regional employers to support students transitioning into the world of work.

For students, online tools assess their values, personality, and career goals. These assessments are then used to create personalized career plans and provide youth with the relevant information needed to navigate a career pathway. For employers, the workforce development specialist is an agent of Vermilion Advantage’s member companies, and is responsible for finding talent in key industries to ensure employer satisfaction while providing the essential skill development opportunities for students to succeed in the workplace.”

The web-based platform used by Vermilion Advantage, Career Network Vermilion County, is Career Cruising Inspire. Vermilion Advantage is one of 30 U.S. deployments of Inspire, including state-wide deployments in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Dakota, Delaware and Wisconsin.

Closer to home, the Province of New Brunswick will launch InspireNB province-wide this fall. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has licensed Career Cruising for Grade 6-12 schools, English and French, for years. Career Cruising has been available in N.B. public libraries, employment support centres, and postsecondary institutions for years. The innovation is InspireNB, operated by Venn Innovation in Moncton and funded by the Department of Postsecondary Education, Training and Labour. Now imbedded in Career Cruising, InspireNB provides all students, teachers, parents, adult career seekers and library patrons in the province access to an expanding database of:

  • career development focused events
  • local employer profiles and discussion boards
  • volunteer career coaches; and
  • a range of workplace learning opportunities from job shadows and plant tours to internships, co-op placements, apprenticeships, and more.


For more on InspireNB contact Provincial Coordinator Jessica Kennedy at 506 857-4326 or

Educators don’t see their primary role as preparing students for the workforce. Indeed, most disdain the notion. Whose role is it? Even if they wanted to, educators cannot fully prepare students for the workforce without help from employers. It’s a world that’s foreign to most educators. Employers that have faulted educators for producing graduates with diplomas and degrees but no “real world” experience and skills, must now “step up to the plate.” They’re going to have to help educators prepare students to transition from school to success. In the process, they can create talent pipelines to ensure they get the talent they need by collaborating with educators to develop that talent.

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