Internationalisation, digitalisation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – these are terms used to describe the ongoing and future transformation of the world of work. Work will not end as such, but new forms of working require workers to be prepared for change as well as to continuously update their skills and competencies. The new Finnish government expects more agility from education providers and is going to carry out a tripartite parliamentary reform for continuous learning. The Government also wants to create comprehensive services for lifelong guidance to facilitate continuous learning.

When work is becoming hybridised as unbound to time and place, should we perhaps rethink guidance and counselling accordingly? Already now individuals are required to reflect their own goals more than before: What competencies are needed in the future? How would I verbalise my current competence? What am I lacking or what skills should I update? Where can I acquire new competencies or update my current ones? By what means do I wish to ensure my own livelihood? How can I market my expertise as an employee, entrepreneur or in other forms of working? As a term, career will not disappear. Instead, it will entail new horizontal and vertical dimensions.

Good Career Management Skills (CMS) reinforce engagement with learning and studying, decrease unconsidered dropouts, promote flexibility and smoother transitions in the labour market, balance the supply and demand of competences in the labour market, and enhance capability to act in transitions.

Because Career Management Skills are already included in the EU key competences for lifelong learning as an explicit domain of competencies that can be learnt, their position should be taken more clearly into account in guidance and counselling, curricular revisions in higher education as well as in the development of university pedagogy.

The integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in guidance and counselling has progressed. At its narrowest form ICT is used just for information delivery without opportunities for communication or interaction, whereas at its broadest form it is used for collaborative knowledge building and co-constrution of meaningful career related issues in a participatory environment (co-careering).

ICT does not remove the need of guidance and counselling practitioners, but as an agent of change it is challenging the traditional power and interaction relationships. Guidance and counselling practitioners should consider creating and maintaining a conscious online presence and collaborative operation culture in environments pertaining to guidance and counselling. The emphasis is shifting away from pure expert knowledge to a blend of expert and socially-constructed knowledge.

A crucial factor in efforts to promote the use of ICT in guidance and counselling seems to be the unwillingness of those responsible for guidance to see the added value technology could bring in the provision and availability of these services.

Students are already using online services in their own career planning, either alone or with others, and with or without support of a guidance professional. The expertise in the use of ICT in guidance and counselling and further enhancement of these competences should be taken into account more consciously when revising existing practices as well as updating the initial and in-service training curricula for teachers and career professionals.

The underlying principles of high-quality guidance services as presented on the JYU website stem from making a study plan and completing a degree within the expected time frame. Students are “given” basic and supplementary guidance, while also enhanced guidance is “offered” to students. When the guidance paradigm is expressed in this way, a student is perceived mainly as an operational target (object) for support and help measures in cases where problems emerge. Moreover, the principles ignore almost entirely the added value brought by ICT.

From the University’s perspective, technology can be used for modelling the guidance services as a coherent entity. ICT can enable mutual learning between different personnel groups as well as the continuous development of a collaborative working culture with related commitment. It would also be necessary to more transparently examine the links between guidance services and the SISU system, for example.

Should we perhaps rethink guidance in HE as part of a larger national and international transformation of working life, and update the criteria of high-quality guidance into criteria for high-quality activities, where career-related issues are examined and co-constructed both as an individual and a joint process with community members?

Jaana Kettunen, Vice-director, Research coordinator, FIER

Raimo Vuorinen, Adjunct associate professor, FIER

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