Skills beyond school

OECD Urges Reforms to National Career Guidance Services


16/02/2004 - OECD governments are falling short in their provision of career guidance to job seekers, according to a new OECD study which makes recommendations for ways in which access to career advice can be improved.
Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap draws on data from 14 countries -- Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom – to assess the effectiveness of government career guidance policies.

In a world of constant change, it notes, young people entering the labour market need the skills to manage their careers, and so do adults facing new job requirements. Governments in OECD countries are promoting active employment and lifelong learning policies to help their citizens cope with complex education systems and changing labour markets. But they need effective career guidance systems if their education and employment policies are to work. 

The OECD study reveals large gaps between the goals of public policy and the capacity of national career guidance systems. Among the specific weaknesses identified in national career guidance services:

  • Access to services is limited, particularly for adults.
  • Inadequate data is available on costs, benefits, client characteristics or outcomes. This limits the ability of governments to manage services and to see if they are meeting their objectives.
  • Insufficient use is made of modern information and communication technologies in delivering services and providing cost-effective ways of meeting client needs more flexibly.
  • Too often services do not try to develop people's career management skills, but focus only upon immediate decisions.
  • Training and qualification systems for those who provide services are often inadequate or inappropriate.
  • Co-ordination between key ministries and stakeholders is poor.


The OECD study makes a series of recommendations to governments for ways of bridging the gap between career guidance services and public policy goals, including:

  • Improved national co-ordination arrangements.
  • Greater attention to research and data collection to inform policy.
  • The development of improved and more specialised training programmes for practitioners.
  • The creation of more specialised career guidance organisations for the delivery of services.

See country notes on Australia, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and United Kingom.

Journalists may obtain a copy of the report from the OECD's Media Relations Division. For further information, they are invited to contact Richard Sweet, OECD's Directorate for Education (tel. 33 1 45 24 16 61).

Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the study via SourceOECD our online library. Non-subscribers will be able to purchase the study via our Online Bookshop.


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