The Career Industry Council of Australia – a world first!

The Career Industry Council of Australia had its genesis in 1999, when a group of far sighted career practitioners and academics identified the need for a peak body to be formed that would promote contemporary career development issues to government, private and community sectors, and provide models of best practice. The policies to drive career education forward as a critical component of the secondary school curriculum were articulated in 1992 through the Ministerial Council of Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.  Later Anna Lichtenberg, Col McCowan and others advocated for a National Forum to carry these issues forward, and to contribute to national and global issues on career development.

While the concepts were visionary the various career associations around the country were in development-phase themselves, and the Forum was not sustainable at that time. Other factors, in particular the lack of easy and inexpensive means of communication with each other also inhibited the development of such a Forum, but the flame of insight and inspiration was kept alive, and in 1999 a teleconference between interested associations was held to test the water.

The first informal face-to-face meeting of interested association representatives was held at the IAEVG International Conference in Perth, 2000 with Bryan Hiebert from Canada contributing to the discussion on the development of across country collaboration and partnerships.

In a maturing career development industry the imperatives to develop a cohesive relationship between the associations was more obvious, and a commitment was made to meet during the year 2000 to test the feasibility of forming a consortium (now council) of representatives from the diverse career associations.

At this meeting there was a high level of commitment to working together for the good of the Australian community, and the initial vision and mission statements were articulated. The aim to be inclusive of all specialities under the overarching framework of career development was identified.

Founding member associations provide membership services to people in secondary schools, TAFE, Universities, the public and private sector, specialised groups who work with elite performers and rehabilitation clients, employment services, and in community organisations, and private practice. The logical inclusion of the Graduate Careers Council of Australia as a full member, added to the depth and diversity of the group, and Roger Bartley (then CEO) provided wise advice and advocacy in the early stages of incorporation.

Associations also indicated their desire to contribute to the development of Quality Standards, as well as community education. One of the main aims was to evolve as a peak body that would speak with one voice, and act effectively as a lobby and reference group for government, industry and the community.

CICA since its formation has worked hard to ensure that it carries on the national and regional work initiated by individual associations, advocating on behalf of Australian Career Practitioners in the issues that relate to the vision of having a career development culture in Australia, where citizens are empowered to make informed career decisions, and manage their career development across their life-time.

Members of the Council were delighted that the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) was able to support our early meetings with an initial grant under the trusteeship of the Australian Association of Career Counsellors (AACC). The career associations provided seeding money to progress the incorporation, and also to subsidise travel and accommodation for our bi-annual meetings.

CICA incorporated as an entity in its own right in 2003 with the decision made to incorporate in the State of Victoria. This milestone year heralded CICA as a world first in the global career development industry.

As a result of building on relationships with government and other agencies, members of CICA have been involved in a number of significant initiatives working in collaboration to workshop the creation of the myfuture website.  Mary McMahon and Peter Tatham wrote the foundation paper to inform the development of that investment, and members are still involved with the writing or promotion of myfuture.

CICA had representatives on the myfuture advisory committee, and on the Career and Transition Services – Working Group (CTS-WG). There was a gradual transference of some existing advocacy roles on such groups as the Centrelink Partnership Group Forum, and representation on the ANTA Strategic Directions Planning Group.

The participation of CICA in the Leaders in Careers Forum was a significant inclusion, and there are a number of other Forums where CICA was representing career practitioners. CICA has been able to inform and influence stakeholders, and has developed and continues to develop strategies to be an effective national peak body and lobby group.

There was strong support from CICA for the recommendations of the OECD Country paper, Past President and Executive Director, Peter Tatham was selected from the CTS-WG to accompany Mr Tony Grear of DEST to Toronto to an international seminar to discuss the OECD recommendations.

CICA representatives and association members workshopped the Australian Blueprint for Career Development, and given it strong support. The opportunity to input into the adaptation of the Canadian model allowed CICA to discuss the issues of common understandings of terminology in the career development literature, and current usage. The paper “Life, Learning and Work” by Mary McMahon, Peter Tatham, and Wendy Patton provided an impetus for informed discussion, and also a vehicle for informing policy makers, education, and industry leaders on the current issues of developing skills to manage life, learning and work.

CICA is now an invited party to debates on career development issues, and has already gained recognition for its willingness to contribute to discussion papers, seminars and workshops. The development of an excellent working relationship with Governments facilitates cross-fertilisation of ideas, and frank exchanges about issues that impact on the profession.

There is a strongly developing relationship between policy makers, researchers and career practitioners in this country, and CICA will continue to encourage this interactive and constructive relationship.

The impact on individual members of career associations will be cumulative. As the realisation that quality career interventions impact on the economic as well as social benefits for all Australians, and as we are more able to promote the advantages of these interventions, the profile of the career industry will be raised, and the opportunities for practitioners will expand.