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Sareena Hopkins

Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation

Career development has always been a powerful lever for building future success, but in today’s emergent reality, it is truly a superpower. Think about it — career development forms the basis of positioning Canadians for stronger career futures, better health, stronger workplaces, stronger communities, and a massive competitive advantage in the global economy.

1. The power of self-awareness

Imagine if every Canadian had a clear sense of their own interests, values, and strengths. Imagine if we all understood how we learn and work best. Imagine if every one of us knew clearly what we are naturally good at and love doing, what grabs us, captivates us, and makes us want to get out of bed in the morning.

With self-awareness, we have the power to make intentional decisions about learning, choosing programs in which we are more likely to succeed and trudging through tough courses because we know they are leading us to where we want to go.

With greater self-awareness there would be fewer of us watching the clock at work, willing the hours to go by and more of us satisfied, productive, and creative in our work. Employers would get more from their workforce and Canadians would be more able to proactively manage their transitions. Career development provides us with this ability.

2. Upgrading by mobilizing skills

We are being told that skills are the currency for success. In fact, our federal government has invested a massive amount of money in the creation of a Future Skills Centre and Council to better prepare Canadians for emerging skill demands. Likewise, RBC has pledged $500 million over the next 10 years through its Future Launch initiative. These investments have the potential to give Canada a huge competitive advantage if we take a career development approach to skills.

However, if we focus solely on identifying those that will be “in-demand” and ensuring Canadians have those skills, the impact will be limited and the underlying dysfunction in our labour market will grow.

3. Development through expert navigation

Finally, career development actually teaches the skills and strategies Canadians need to effectively find or create work and navigate the transition from school to the workforce.

We know that the work search strategies of yesteryear are utterly ineffective in today’s reality. What does work search or entrepreneurship look like in today’s global, technology-driven economy? What skills do we need — not just for specific jobs — but to manage our life and transitions in a world in which non-standard employment is on the rise? Career development lies at the heart of a labour force able to successfully get/create work and navigate multiple transitions across the lifespan.  

In short, career development is the superpower in the emergent labour market. Let’s figure out how to ensure every citizen gets it.

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