8 emerging skills and competencies career practitioners should develop
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8 emerging skills and competencies career practitioners should develop

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As career practitioners, we’re on the front lines of labour market changes. With the world of work shifting around us, we need to continually grow our own skills and competencies so that we can serve our clients well in 2019 and beyond.

So, what emerging skills and competency areas most need our attention? I recently put this question out to a number of Canadian career professionals and here’s what they had to say:

1. Support clients to pursue self-employment and gig work

Managing portfolio/gig/patchwork quilt careers requires different skills than looking for employment, suggests Roberta Neault, President of Life Strategies Ltd. With about 15% of Canada’s workforce opting for self-employment, career practitioners can play a pivotal role in helping clients successfully transition to contract work or self-employment.

However, the number of people transitioning into gig work may be substantially higher than recorded, as some workers are also choosing contract or freelance work to supplement their employment within the public or private sector.

Career development practitioners (CDPs) should build up their entrepreneurial skills toolkit to support self-employed/gig workers. Millennials Career Coach Ali Breen states that we also need to know about worker rights in the gig/freelance economy so we can guide our clients in advocating for the job security they deserve.

2. Utilize technology better

“Technology gives us the chance to meet clients in virtual spaces as seamlessly as we meet clients in real life,” says Seanna Quressette of Douglas College. By expanding how we connect with clients, we can support a wider range of clients who previously may have had limited access to services.

We can also leverage technological solutions to improve our process efficiency and streamline our practice. By integrating technological solutions in our work, we can reduce our administrative burden, giving us more time for our clients.

And with social media as a key mode of communication and engagement in society, career professionals should be well-versed in guiding our clients on how to use these platforms to find work.

3. Learn more about mental health and how to support someone with mental illness

According to Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have or have had a mental illness. Since 50% of our clients may have experienced mental-health issues, we should proactively equip ourselves with knowledge of mental health, especially as we often work with clients in a vulnerable space after job loss or career disillusionment.

Gayle Draper, founder of Intentional Careers and Human Resources, explained that she recently took a Mental Health First Aid course, which helped her recognize the early signs of mental-health problems, identify when a person may be a danger to themselves or others and learn how to provide the appropriate professional support.

4. Find and apply labour market information

We work hard every day to connect our clients to work. But to do this well, we should be staying current on our local market as well as how the global economy affects local employment possibilities, says Sandie Seymour from Seymour Possibilities. What are the skills, qualifications and competencies employers are looking for?

Career practitioners should take an active role in understanding their local community and interacting with employers. Dorothy Keenan from Futureworks recommends getting out of the office regularly and attending different industry events, following industry associations through social media, and scanning job boards to identify gaps and demand in the market.

5. Keep informed about the future of work

The world of work is changing, and our clients rely on us to make sense of these shifts. We should be proactive in learning about the trends brought on by developments in automation, artificial intelligence, globalization, climate change, demographics, and so on.

Our clients may not think to seek out this information, so we bear the responsibility to be well-educated in this regard and find ways to help our clients identify what education and skills are necessary to thrive. To learn more about what to expect in the future of work, check out this recent CareerWise article by Maureen McCann.

6. Pursue continuous learning

Utilizing a variety of techniques to support clients is critical to the success of career practitioners, explains Tony Botelho from Simon Fraser University’s Career and Volunteer Services. In our work, we act as coaches, guides and educators – we should be looking to deepen our skills and knowledge in these areas.

With education and training more accessible than ever, we have endless opportunities to learn both formally through courses/certifications or through less formal channels like taking short courses, watching webinars offered by CERIC or other professional associations, following thought leaders on social media or attending events in the community.

Additionally, we can borrow and incorporate innovative approaches and ideas from other industries, Ali Breen suggests. For example, Career Coach Rebecca Beaton uses the tech industry’s design thinking theory in helping her clients conceptualize how to scope, test and implement their career ideas.

7. Engage our own resilience, flexibility and self-marketing skills

In our work, we teach our clients how to market themselves and engage with employers. We encourage them to take risks, tap into their resilience and develop flexibility. But are we demonstrating how to do this? Jaymie Nelson from Limitless Careers suggests that we need to practice what we preach.

Are we taking risks and trying new things within our own careers? Are we connecting with employers? Are we regularly expanding our skills?  Do we have strong LinkedIn profiles and updated resumes that speak to our value-add?  Are we actively networking?

8. Support retirement planning

Canada’s population is aging. Around 17% of the population is over 65, a percentage that has been steadily rising. Career Strategist Christine Cristiano suggests that career professionals should develop “some knowledge in financial and retirement planning to be able to help clients recognize the connection between their employment and their retirement during the career path decisions.”

Moving forward, it will be exciting to see how our work in the careers field will continue to shift. And I’m confident that as we evolve our skills and competencies, we’ll continue to be able to successfully help many more Canadians navigate their career transitions.

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