|Technical and Vocational Education and Training in the 21st Century: New Roles and Challenges for Guidance and Counselling (IAC - IAEVG - UNESCO, 2002, 149 p.)|
Understanding community capacity
Over the past decade, community capacity-building has become important as both a concept and a field of practice. Everyone is talking about it, many people are doing it and even more are affected by it. In many ways it has become an industry in itself. Yet, surprisingly enough, community capacity-building is not well understood and as a result it has received limited attention within the career development field.
To understand community capacity-building, the terms need to be examined in their broadest context, acknowledging that there is no clear or universally accepted definition for either the context or the terms. Community generally refers to a group of people within either a specific geographic area or a particular sphere of interest. Capacity within the community context is what it takes to get things done. Capacity refers to more than just training and skill development. It includes things such as leadership, operating systems, finances, human resources and all kinds of other resources. The building of community capacity is therefore often complex, under-resourced, and connected to several different aspects of community. To build community capacity requires leadership, time and effort.
Community capacity-building is closely related to community development. Community development is generally agreed to mean the planned evolution of all aspects of community life including social, economic, environmental and cultural development. Community development and community capacity-building are not the same thing, however, although some would point out that they are so closely intertwined as to be inseparable or that one is a result of, or leads to, the other. However, one important difference is that community development does not have to be - and in many instances is not - driven by community members, but when community development is not undertaken by community members, very little community capacity-building occurs (Rappaport & Seidmann, 1989).
One example occurs when government and industry control the economic and social development of a community. Jobs are created, programmes and services are provided, but there is little input from local residents. While the communitys economic wealth may be improved, the same cannot be said of its ability to sustain long-term well-being or prepare for a future that might not include that particular industry. The result is that the communitys overall capacity is not built up, although the community appears to be developing.
An example of the reverse, where capacity is built but community development may not occur (at least not immediately), can be found in marginalized communities dependent on outside expertise and assistance. Sometimes communities have been damaged and need to build personal and community wellness from within. The opportunities might be there, but the community is unable to identify or take advantage of them. Leadership is needed and strategic plans and skills must be developed and resources acquired. Capacity needs to be built before community development can take place. In many communities, however, there is a healthy relationship between community development and capacity-building and therefore it is useful and practical to consider them together as complementary processes.
Community economic development (CED) is another critical concept coming within the scope of community capacity-building. It too is participatory and community-based, but has as a focus the connection between economic and social well-being within a community. CED is sometimes considered as an alternative to, or substitute for, mainstream economic development. One of the key defining differences is that often the businesses or enterprises directly involved are community-owned rather than private. The profits are ploughed back into the business to create additional jobs and/or to provide community benefit. There is always an emphasis on training and employment for local people, giving consideration to those most in need, those least able to find or maintain jobs and/or those who have been displaced from the labour market for one reason or another.
These three concepts and processes-community development, capacity-building and community economic development-are connected and have a great deal to do with sustainability and quality of life, which ultimately are what we are seeking both in communities and as individuals.
While results are not easy to measure, indicators of increased capacity include:
· stronger community relationships; caring families and safer, welcoming communities;
· identification of more community-based opportunities;
· enhanced respect for limited resources;
· increased interest among young people in becoming future leaders;
· increased awareness of the importance of protecting and improving conditions for vulnerable people, floundering economies and environments.
There is strong compatibility between the processes, values and outcomes of career development and community development. Yet the connections in practice are not obvious. Career development is very much about helping individuals to be self-sustaining, to access learning and work opportunities, to create personally meaningful lives with respect to the work they do, and to build healthy families and lifestyles that contribute to their communities in constructive ways. Both community development and career development have sustainability and increased quality of life as their primary focus. One of the overriding values of community development is to leave a positive legacy; one of the overriding values of career development practice is to enable individuals to leave a positive legacy.
This chapter provides a context for aligning the practice of career guidance and counselling more closely with community development, community capacity-building, and community economic development. Some examples of early positive responses will be given and suggested future directions will be explored.
The capacity-building environment
The industrial era is long gone. From the community development perspective, one might assess the industrial era as one which was successful in building cities and economies but much less successful in building sustainable communities. The driver of the industrial era was economic development. Guidance practitioners fuelled the supply side of the industrial era by focusing on matching individual knowledge, skills and abilities to economic opportunity. Single-industry towns with jobs for life were norms for economic growth.
The information and knowledge era is now well established and single-industry towns are a thing of the past. They are being replaced by multifaceted economic and environmental strategies, partnerships and joint ventures, community-based decision-making, locally-owned enterprises and community plans. New ways of working and new models of sustainability are now norms for economic growth. When communities are able to identify and take advantage of opportunities, these strategies often (but not always!) have the potential to build local capacity. But because they involve new ways of working, many individuals, communities and guidance practitioners do not know how to harness their potential. Some communities do not have sufficient infrastructure or resources for longer-term economic viability and may not have attained the level of community wellness and readiness required to create opportunity. However, many more communities have this capacity than do not.
In many ways, we are all unprepared for what lies ahead. We think that the future is some time from now, but in reality it is already with us, and we are hurrying to adapt tools and techniques to keep up with changes that have already taken place, restructuring organizations and roles to make them reflect the current situation more accurately. Paid work, voluntary work and sustainable livelihoods are being considered in a different way. We are struggling to understand the changes taking place in an environment that is less structured and less familiar.
Some of the shifts occurring include increased appreciation of integrated and holistic approaches to capacity-building. There is a visible frustration with outdated, insular policies and programmes, as well as increasing dissatisfaction with the use of short-term projects as vehicles for long-term social and economic development. Poor attitudes and low expectations are being replaced with more positive approaches to both human resource planning and community development. Unimaginative responses are being challenged and more creative and interesting approaches are being used to increase community involvement and encourage personal life planning. Using knowledge, skills and abilities as the prerequisites for growth is important for economic development, but incomplete and inadequate as a community capacity-building model. The values, interests and beliefs dominantly held in a community are the essential drivers if any sustainable community capacity building is to occur. What a community values determines what its members will become committed to; beliefs about their capacity will drive their motivation for change and their interests will sustain their motivation.
Motivation in community capacity-building
Much like change in our own individual lives, change at the community level is usually driven by either passion or necessity - an opportunity to enhance quality of life in the community or a crisis which threatens the viability of the community. Examples of opportunity might include: the potential to diversify economic activity in a community; an interest in grassroots initiatives to respond to community talents or interests; opportunities to create needed programmes or facilities for citizens. Examples of crisis might include closure of a primary industry or too many young people leaving a community.
This dichotomy is also applicable to shifts which have recently occurred in career development practice and which appear to be emerging more and more as individuals express their need for more integrated, holistic and balanced approaches to life/work. A recent study (Lowe & Davidman, 2001) conducted by the Canadian Policy Research Network (CPRN) is a case in point. When Canadians were surveyed about what mattered most to them on the job, they identified the following as more important than remuneration or status: respect, interesting work, the chance to participate in decisions, the chance to develop and improve skills, opportunities to collaborate with others, and the ability to manage stress and have life/work balance. Canadians were focused on their need for quality work and the chance to achieve balance and quality in their lives. This was true of workers of all ages.
An issue not directly apparent from the study, but which can be inferred, is the desire to be able to build a quality life in or near ones own community. The demand side of the industrial era presumed that workers would move to areas with high growth opportunities (in other words the cities), often to the detriment of home communities and opportunities which might be developed or created within home communities. The need to move geographically to the growth sectors has been dramatically changed by technological advances as well as by an increasing sense of communities willingness to take charge and reinvent their opportunity structures. This is evident in many Canadian provinces and territories. Extraordinary efforts are being made to reinvent community, and some very interesting success stories are beginning to come through which suggest innovative ways to approach career and life planning.
Those who provide help to individuals in this context are obviously driven by values, interests and beliefs as much as by knowledge, skills and abilities. This has been very successfully integrated into individual career and guidance counselling practice. In the context of emerging trends, however, the overall role, relationship and usefulness of career and guidance services (which continue to operate mainly at the level of the individual, and not at the level of the community) need to be examined.
Change is occurring very quickly. New roles have emerged, both at the individual and community levels, many with no titles, and some with few clear ideas about the training required to undertake them (Frank & Smith, 1997). What the new roles have in common is the goal of building capacity both for individuals and within communities. Some of the most familiar occupations in this field are social planner, community development worker, career/employment counsellor, and career and work development practitioner. These roles are increasingly important and in demand. However, one thing is clear: people providing career guidance and counselling services need to address both individual and community needs, and they are almost all in transition.
Linking career planning to community capacity-building
Capacity-building is an ongoing process for individuals and for communities. We call one career planning or personal management, and the other community development or capacity-building. Just as individuals have self-esteem, confidence and skills, so too do communities.
It is suggested that career and guidance services (and other roles related to helping individuals access education, training and/or work) are now linked to community capacity-building in substantial ways. A community-based labour market is different from the traditional industry-based labour market. Jobs are not always predetermined and occupations are not always clearly defined. Making career connections for individuals is closely tied to community planning and priority setting. The two roles - career guidance and counselling and community planner/developer - need to be more closely connected. What connects them now is the desire for high quality in the world of work, the need for a healthy environment and the shared goal of sustainable economies for individuals and entire communities. As the future continues to unfold, a clear and critical role is emerging for much expanded career development and guidance training services and practices.
Early responses linking career development and community capacity-building
Although there has not yet been an explicit shift in direction and practice, initiatives are under way which provide evidence of new attitudes to career development and guidance and counselling. However, the orientation described above is beginning to take on a much more collective and expanded role. It appears to be a gradual evolution resulting from the need to respond to immediate needs in individuals and communities and also to long-term sustainability issues. The following section highlights several examples of emerging trends in Canada and Argentina. These provide an overview of shifting directions and describe some of the issues which require attention if this emerging shift is to become more integrated into everyday practice.
Canadian standards and guidelines for career development practitioners
A Canadian initiative to develop voluntary guidelines and standards for the practice of career development has been under way since 1996 (Hiebert, 2000; Hiebert et al., 1999). A similar development is currently taking place through the IAEVG to develop international standards and guidelines for career development practitioners (Repetto, Malik & Hiebert, 2000). The practice of career development in Canada, as in many other countries, is highly diverse. Career services are delivered in community agencies and in education, mental health and rehabilitation settings, among many others. One of the purposes of the Canadian standards initiative was to recognize and validate the diverse skill sets of people in the field. The guidelines developed were based on what practitioners in the field actually do. Extensive consultations were organized across the country in which groups of practitioners identified the competencies they use and need in order to provide quality services directly to clients. This made it possible to establish a set of core competencies required by all who practise career development in any substantial way. Six distinct areas of specialized competencies also were identified. This recognized that while all career practitioners require certain basic competencies there is also a range of specializations which are peculiar to specific settings and unique client and community needs.
One of the specializations identified as a result of these consultations was community capacity-building. These competencies emerged strongly (but not uniquely) among practitioners in rural, remote and northern communities where a sense of community, and belonging to a community, are strongly-rooted. Many of these communities have limited wage economies, but a strong and buoyant informal economy which shares the goods and services that help sustain a community. To be relevant, career practitioners in communities such as these need to connect individuals with community resources, but they also need to be catalysts or collaborators in bringing the community together to build long-term strategies for unemployment reduction and economic growth.
Another group for whom community capacity-building competencies were important were practitioners in government settings whose work was changing from delivering direct service to managing community services contracted to and delivered by third-party providers. Being competent in this community service role requires the ability to work with service-providers in order to maximize limited resources and coordinate client services.
New tools and competencies are needed to work at a collective level. Asset mapping, for example, is essential. This involves mapping the assets of a community (the infrastructure, resources, talents and driving values of the population) to provide a strengths-based approach to facilitating sustainable career development at the community level. Competencies which are becoming necessary for effectiveness include: the ability to conduct an analysis of sectors based on human resources and to work with a community to determine gaps between visions, goals and capacity.
The fact that community capacity-building is a specialization in the Canadian model draws attention to the emerging importance of the catalyst and influencer role. It has traditionally been extremely difficult for career and guidance services to be recognized as essential by policy-makers and community leaders and to be given support. As career and guidance practitioners assume a more visible and activist role at the community level, this lack of recognition may be better addressed. Communities may begin to take career/life planning for their members more seriously and see the connection between this type of personal planning and the sustainability and improved quality of life of a community.
Regional economic development and schools: A Newfoundland initiative
In 1992 the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was dealt a devastating blow when a moratorium was placed on cod-fishing. Cod-fishing defined life for the people of this province. It was the reason people first came from the old world: to fish on a seasonal basis before returning to Europe. Not only was their source of employment taken from them but a way of life that had taken form over nearly 500 years was lost.
Across the province the atmosphere in schools was dismal. It seemed that young people would need to leave the province to have a sustainable future. The provincial government developed a plan that would help rural and remote areas of the province to deal with this crisis. A Strategic Economic Plan was implemented which created 20 economic development zones, each one responsible for devising a strategic plan which would outline potential growth sectors in the economy. The Regional Economic Development and School Initiative (REDAS) was the result of collaboration between a career guidance specialist and an economist who were both determined to find a means of making young people aware of work opportunities in their own regions or communities.
The challenges of bringing more practical career education into the schools were numerous and are faced by many countries. The most significant among them were that:
· The only way to reach all students was through classroom teachers, and if career education was not mandated as part of the regular curriculum (which it was not), it would not be delivered by teachers.
· Teachers specialize in a particular subject and most have limited expertise in, or exposure to, economic development and labour market analysis.
The REDAS initiative has several imaginative and innovative components:
· Teachers who are accepted under the initiative work together with economic and community developers to create a learning module which will fit into their regular curriculum. The module must relate to awareness of work opportunities within the regional economy.
· Teacher substitutes are provided so that teachers in the programme are released from their normal duties for a period of time to develop the learning module.
· The learning modules are shared with other regions in the province so that over time students are exposed to opportunities in other parts of the province as well as in their own region.
· An emphasis on entrepreneurial activity and creating ones own work is fostered. This is allowing students to see their opportunities through a new economic lens.
Growth sector learning modules have been developed to encourage the use of cutting-edge technology within what is left of the fishing industry: e-commerce in developing business web pages, manufacturing and robotics, aquaculture and cultural heritage. At the time of writing, the initiative has just entered its implementation phase following an 18-month pilot period. Evaluation results are very promising, with more motivated and energized teachers a side benefit. The creators of this initiative offer the following perspective:
Career development, individual capacity-building, an understanding of community and community development, and an understanding of economic development are necessary pieces of information and knowledge if we are to build and sustain communities, especially in rural and remote areas of our province and country and indeed anywhere in the world.
This suggests the need for a much broader scope of practice as well as a much more diverse background of knowledge than is traditionally given in the preparation of career and guidance professionals. It also suggests that guidance professionals in the school system should play an enhanced leadership role in bringing relevant career education into the mandatory curriculum and having schools embrace career education and make it part of the educational mainstream.
Career Circuit and the Circuit Coach training initiative
Career Circuit is a national Canadian initiative geared to strengthening partnership and capacity within the youth career services sector. It integrates career and community development and offers an example of effective community based guidance in action. Not-for-profit community-based agencies provide a large proportion of career development and employment services for out-of-school youth and young adults. Traditionally, however, the non-profit sector has been fragmented and under-resourced and has had limited access to structures, support and professional training. Career Circuit provides a strategic response to each identified need.
After four years of intensive development, pilot testing and refinement, the following resources are now available free of charge to youth-serving agencies across Canada:
· Network. A virtual community of approximately 5,000 community-based youth-serving member agencies, connected to each other and to a wealth of current, regionally tailored, and sector-specific information via www.thecircuit.org.
· Resources. A searchable database of thousands of targeted resources (www.vrcdatabase.com) and the Virtual Resource Centre CD-ROM offer access to hundreds of resources (PDF format) organized by theme, media type and youth questions answered.
· Training. Circuit Coach is a fully self-instructional training programme to provide front-line workers with a solid grounding in career development and prepare them to use a wide range of innovative interventions to address specific youth issues. Circuit Coach is supported by a network of trainers across Canada who provide coaching and learning support at the community (non-institutional) level. The training is beginning to be recognized by colleges and university-level institutions for credit purposes, which represents another innovation and a break from tradition.
· Assistance. A key to the ongoing success of Career Circuit has been the engagement of Field Liaison Officers (FLOs) in each province/territory. These officers were recruited mainly for their connections to the community, experience of organizational change and connections to business and employers, and secondarily for their career development expertise. Half of the FLOs have career development qualifications, but half do not. Their expertise includes some career development, but they also have strong backgrounds in fields such as: international development, human resource development, mediation and technology. All FLOs are strong in community-development experience. Their unique role has been to promote the initiative at the grass-root level, to work with community stakeholders to plan tailored implementation, and to act as a liaison between regional interests and national coordination. They also act as resource people for practitioners completing Circuit Coach training. In the process, they themselves are becoming more specialized in career development. In order to mobilize a community of career service providers, it has been critical to have a person devoted to building community partnerships and increasing capacity. The diverse multidisciplinary backgrounds of the FLOs have been crucial to their capacity to have impact at the community level.
This initiative raises the issue of qualifications and professionalism in the career development field. Traditionally, career and guidance counselling is a post-graduate qualification rooted in counselling, education and psychology and not grounded in human resource development or community and business development. The success of the Circuit Coach initiative invites reflection on our assumptions as to what is needed to be truly effective with youth and young adult populations.
The southern belt of Greater Buenos Aires is very densely populated. Originally, it had an industrial profile, but in the last decade there has been an abrupt decrease in permanent jobs caused by the sudden closure of many companies. Unemployment has resulted in social vulnerability and social exclusion for many, especially women and young people. The problem is how these conditions narrow expectations for the future and impact on personal identities.
In recent years, there has been an agreement between the Psychology Faculty of Buenos Aires University and a local county (partido de Avellaneda, provincia de Buenos Aires) for the development of a programme for the community. The general approach involves collaboration between the university and local town councils, on the basis of organizational agreements, to provide support for youth. The objectives of the initiative are: to work closely with educational centres, offering technical assistance for the development of psycho-social programmes for young people, children and families; and provide training for teacher and guidance assistants. Within the programme, intervention is focused on vocational and occupational guidance in order to help young people develop personal projects for their life, studies and work. Activities are carried out in town councils, local social clubs, and schools (Aisenson, 1996; Aisenson & Monedero, 2000).
Efforts are being made to develop practical community-based interventions and assess their effects. For example, a Reflection Workshop on Vocational Guidance has been created which enables young people, under the guidance of a psychologist or teacher, to reflect and talk with their peers about their vocational and transitional situation, what they hope to do in the future, their expectations, and their personal interests. Possible jobs and activities, and roles to which they aspire are carefully reviewed. The purpose is to encourage self-confidence, promote trust in their capabilities, identify and develop personal strengths and resources, and widen their scope of possible alternatives. Innovative projects and strategies are encouraged. New tools are being introduced to help them face transitional conditions in restrictive, marginalizing contexts such as unemployment or unstable jobs. Strategies for finding a job, formal and informal ways of job-seeking, résumé and cover-letter writing, and the first job interview are covered.
Another example is the Educative and Work Opportunities Fair-Exhibition held every year for seven years and attended by approximately 15,000 youth, faculty and parents annually. Local public and private educational institutions as well as local public companies, unions and businesses are represented. This has been a forum enabling young people to discover different work and educational opportunities, gain information, widen their choices, and strengthen their sense of direction.
Programmes are delivered to elementary and high school counsellors, the staff of kindergartens in undeveloped neighbourhoods, and parents in the poorest neighbourhoods. Technical assistance is also given to directors and school counsellors. Discussion of social differences and cultural diversity is a focus of the teacher/counsellor programme as are tools to prevent dropping out of school, vulnerability, and social exclusion. Distinctions are made between factors of identification developed at home and at school so that teachers and counsellors can better target their action. Theoretical models from vocational psychology, community psychology, cognitive social psychology, educational psychology, the sociology of education, the sociology of work, and economics are widely applied. Approaches cannot be clinical only. The real problems being faced by people in society make it necessary to review the theoretical models on which the practices and purposes of guidance are based (Guichard & Huteau, 2001). It is also necessary to adopt a code of ethics (IAEVG/AIOSP, 1996) for the training of guidance counsellors.
Problems dealt with in this initiative include:
· Personal attitudes. In countries that suffer from widespread poverty and marginalization, such conditions begin to be taken for granted, thus creating psychological barriers to transformations that might improve personal and social conditions.
· Analysing life, study, and job histories encourages reflection on the different processes and transitions that determine personal histories and particular paths.
· It is important to recognize that specific physical, psychosocial and socio-dynamic conditions are needed for proper development, particularly at transitional stages. Individuals need to recognize that social support is necessary, and local organizations must be ready to effect the internal changes that enable them to offer such support.
· While some social processes create vulnerability, others protect and facilitate resilience (Rutter, 1993), which enhances ability to face adversity. This resilience exists in people, institutions and communities, and is the capacity that community-based programming is intended to develop.
· Empowerment development (Rappaport & Seidmann, 1989) is a process that enables individuals, organizations and communities to acquire the capabilities to cope with their conditions, become resilient and move forward. It is closely linked to self-esteem and self-confidence. Personal attitudes that tend to transform personal and contextual conditions are to be encouraged in individual, family, group and community projects.
To date, results indicate that the model increases community capabilities to develop life projects and plan careers. It also enhances individuals capacity to support personal projects that are deemed important, even though they might not provide a paid job. Activities in this field are proving to be very useful and suggest a possible model for guidance practice in other countries and communities.
Implications and suggested directions for the future
The examples cited are demonstrations that the field of career development is expanding its scope of practice. It may be that there is a sense in which traditional career development thinking and training have become too narrow to be effective when faced with the challenges of shifting labour markets, struggling communities, and the sheer numbers of people of all ages who need some assistance in planning and managing their career futures and social and economic inequities. If so, what might be areas for further analysis and possible action pertaining to the practice of career guidance and counselling?
As the scope of practice expands, the need for innovative career development preparation and professional training which embraces community and economic development competencies becomes critical. Programmes which continue to be relatively divorced from these broader disciplines may not be providing the best training for career guidance and counselling practitioners. More importantly, traditional training programmes may result in fewer and fewer students and workers being able to access career and guidance services if these services continue to be provided primarily in an individual counselling context which does not embrace collective delivery modes and other types of community expertise.
In most countries there is a strong trend towards outcome-based programmes and services. Proof of impact and return on investment are increasingly required when seeking public funds and public support. Traditionally, the career guidance and career development field has had a struggle to demonstrate its worth in terms which policy-makers can understand and endorse. Career development that is more connected with community development, as in the projects in Newfoundland and Argentina, may be a surer way of demonstrating impact and results. Working at a more collective level provides opportunities to gather concrete cost/benefit and outcome data that might better meet the needs of both policy and practice.
Community-based guidance and career services bring into the delivery system professionally-trained career specialists and a diverse range of community stakeholders from elders to parents to employers to community workers to youth advocates. This huge diversity contributes to individual career development and community development sustainability. The field will be challenged to examine how to protect the professional role appropriately and ethically while at the same time remaining open to debating important questions regarding the right mix for effectiveness.
Definition of the relevance of career and guidance services in non-wage economies, as well as in developing countries which are struggling with poverty, literacy, social exclusion and inequity, is a major task. What models can the career guidance and counselling field provide that are truly relevant and useful? Delivered how and by whom and with what qualifications? What programmes, tools or successes might be relevant to and transferable between developed, middle and developing economies? The risk of career development and guidance being seen to be, or indeed having become, elitist, equipped to meet the needs of the more advantaged but out of its depth with anyone else, merits serious and rigorous consideration. This would involve developing a much deeper understanding of and empirical evidence for the integration of knowledge, skills and abilities with values, interests and beliefs as models for individual and community change and growth.
The point was made earlier that individuals and communities change in response to either a crisis or an opportunity. The same is perhaps true for professions. The wider community capacity-building agenda may present the career development and guidance field with both a crisis in relevance and a true opportunity for growth.
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