New diploma course for career guidance professionals is vital

Director of Administration & Marketing Margaret Waithaka [File]

When Career Guidance Institute was started a couple of years ago, a poll conducted seeking to understand one, what they required most, and two, their competency levels, showed the following; that out of over 200 participants 80 per cent said they would like to get professional training and equipped with necessary career guidance tools. Over 70 per cent who had been offering career guidance said they do not feel competent enough while offering this service.

The statistics shows a huge skills gap in persons offering the service. The true purpose of education on one hand, according to education experts, is to equip students with the skills that will enable them to be productive citizens when they finish school. On the other hand, the experts went on to say, the integral development of every individual should be at the heart of every education system.

There are several ways that a country can achieve this but one critical way is through offering professional career guidance throughout the life of every individual; that is to say, relevant career interventions from kindergarten, primary, secondary, college and universities, in the communities as well as well at the workplaces. It’s on record that well planned and organised career guidance services are important in helping individuals both young and old make informed career choices, transitions and decisions.

Unfortunately, systematic and organised career awareness, exploration and decision-making activities are limited in Kenya and Africa especially in learning institutions and communities. This situation is further affected by the fact that personnel appointed to offer the service are ill equipped with career guidance competencies to deliver career programmes.

For this reason, a Diploma in Career Guidance and Development (KNQF Level 6), has been launched in Kenya. Benchmarked on best practices, the qualification is developed in collaboration with international awarding organisation ABMA Education, United Kingdom. The diploma is an online course where participants will learn about emerging careers and educational trends with a detailed analysis of the dynamic job market, theoretical concepts associated with career guidance and development among others. The outcome of the training will be to produce a pool of trained career guidance professionals who will offer professional services that can help all citizens access high quality career information and advice about education, training and work.

This qualification will be accessible to trainees all over Kenya and Africa, and can be deployed on both a regional and national and scale. In Kenya, specifically, it will help realise Kenya Vision 2030 (promoting lifelong learning, positive labour market outcomes and social equity and inclusion).

According to the Director in charge of Learning and Instructions at College for Career Guidance and Development Dr Mercy Maina, “several reports show that thousands of college students and youth in communities lack career readiness skills needed to join the world of work; are unsure about how to enter the job market and build a long-term career; are unable to link what they learn in learning institutions with the world of work and focus on academic knowledge only. Academic skills, technical knowledge, career and employability skills as well as 21st century skills all combined promote skills to navigate the world of work.”

She adds “inadequate, inconsistent and incomprehensive career guidance services offered has led to skills and field of study mismatch, career misalignment, poor delivery of career information and poor school-to-work transition programmes among the youth.” All these have resulted to a lot of frustrations for young people, parents, educators and the job market.

Ther Draft Career Counselling Policy developed by the ministry of Education highlights the need to address these national challenges. As the first of its kind in Kenya and the region, this training programme addresses the training needs of career guidance personnel in different settings (schools, colleges, universities, youth, special needs and corporate organisations). It combines academic and practical skills through work-related learning to enable trainees become career guidance and development professionals. These professionals are expected to support their clients in activities that lead to career identification, exploration, decision making and application of skills across lifespan

The Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) seeks to enable every learner to become an engaged, empowered and ethical citizen. It aims at providing them with skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century, early identification and nurturing of talents as well as early introduction of learning pathways for senior school level. What better support can the country have than having a pool of trained career guidance personnel across basic education?

The author is the Director of Administration & Marketing.