In our work helping clients with their career development and decision making, we often pose questions to help them take small, compounding actions that generate momentum, confidence and personal agency: “What is one thing you can do today that will help you land that dream role? If you simply take one action per day, that’s seven things you would have done in a week and 365 things a year.”
Likewise, as career development professionals, we too can appreciate how these seemingly small actions compound and propel our own work forward. Our superpowers or ninja moves – whatever you want to call our ways of getting our clients to truly reflect and take action – all add up to extraordinary results. For instance, in working with clients, we may use pre- and post- surveys to assess impact on predetermined key performance indicators (e.g. employability skills, attitudes toward job search). Consistently gathering this outcomes-based information – by engaging in evidence-based practice – enables us to build a strong case for management and funders to continually support our work. Indeed, small moments culminate into big movements.
One such movement is being led by a global group of passionate career development professionals who are working to advocate for a United Nations (UN) International Day of Careers and Livelihood.
United Nations international days
“International days are occasions to educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.” (UN, 2021a)
Currently the UN has designated over 170 days to promote awareness of particular themes or causes, including:
- International Day of Education (Jan. 24)
- International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11)
- World Creativity and Innovation Day (April 21)
- World Day for Safety and Health at Work (April 28)
- Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day (June 27)
- World Youth Skills Day (July 15)
- International Equal Pay Day (Sept. 18)
- International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (Dec. 5)
You can likely see a clear connection of how our work as career development practitioners can tie into the above-mentioned dates. That said, our work permeates into everyday livelihood and well-being. Accordingly, career development deserves an international day of its own.
The developmental aspect of our profession provides opportunity for people to reflect upon their purpose, passion and the impact that they wish to have upon the world, as evident in current research and practice connecting career education and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Ho, 2021; Hutchison & Abbas, 2021; Jarvis, 2021). In considering their impact – both locally and globally – people generate insights about work and occupations that enable them to contribute toward greater social, political, economic and sustainable outcomes. This aligns with the UN’s slogan to promote “peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet” (UN, 2021b).
Imagine, then, if there was a designated day to recognize the importance of career development and education. Imagine if we could have people stop for at least a moment to consider how career development and education can have a transformative impact on individuals and communities around the world. This will elevate the work that we do and also extend the existing celebrations in place such as Canada Career Month in November.
As career development professionals, we are in a unique position where we collectively work with people across all imaginable industries and sectors. There is currently a proposal in development to the UN to advocate for our day: the International Day of Careers and Livelihood. To help build our case, we need to first raise awareness and gather artifacts of the impact that we can have on individuals, organizations and societies. We need to capture those stories, or moments. This is where you come in.
“Imagine if we could have people stop for at least a moment to consider how career development and education can have a transformative impact on individuals and communities around the world.”
The Western North American Region of the Asia-Pacific Career Development Association recently launched a blog, Integrating Career Development with the UN Global Goals, where career development professionals on a global scale are highlighting career development aspects within UN International Days. For instance, in a piece published on Sept. 8, UN International Literacy Day, Tracey Campbell (Senior Policy Analyst, Alberta Labour & immigration) emphasized the importance of literacy skills in one’s livelihood:
“Effective literacy skills open doors to more educational and employment opportunities so that people are able to pull themselves out of poverty and chronic underemployment.”
If it is our belief that everything can be related to career development, here is our chance to demonstrate this. We’re currently seeking volunteers; here’s how you can help:
- Review the list of UN Days Google sheet and sign up to promote a day (or more, if you are so inclined) that you think connects to career development.
- On the day(s) you selected, make a post connecting the UN Day to career development on your social media and use the hashtags (and others you see fit): #CareerandLivelihood #Career #UnitedNations #UNDays
- Submit the same post to the Integrating Career Development with the UN Global Goals Blog by emailing Danita Redd, DRedd@vcccd.edu, with the subject line “UN Days Blog” and she will post it in the blog. See submission guidelines.
- Some authors have elected to compose a longer version of their social media post for the blog format, but this is entirely to up you.
- Pat yourself on the back for being awesome!
Our work as career development professionals helps people discover their purpose and conceive the ways they can meaningfully contribute to the world; that said, this work deserves more prominence and awareness. Connecting to the UN International Days would help us accomplish this at a global level; an opportunity to turn moments into a global movement is right in front of us.
Anthony Mann from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says, “Never before in human history has career guidance been so important.” We agree, and now it’s time for the world to recognize the importance of our work and follow our growing movement.