February 11, 2021

OECD release new report – Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work

Career guidance is a fundamental policy lever to help adults successfully navigate a constantly evolving labour market through advice and information on job and training opportunities. Most adults who do not train say that there was no training offer that they wanted to take up (82%). This may reflect a lack of understanding of the importance of training in today’s labour market or difficulties in identifying suitable training opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the importance of career guidance services as many adults have lost their jobs and require assistance in identifying suitable career options in a labour market that has changed profoundly. The pandemic has had an impact on both the supply and demand for skills. On the supply side, low-skilled adults have been disproportionately represented among those who lost their jobs. Many will need to upskill or retrain to find work. On the demand side, the crisis is likely to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and automation, increasing demand for high-level skills. Career guidance can facilitate re-employment by identifying new job opportunities and proposing relevant training.

To better understand adults’ experience with career guidance and the barriers they face, the OECD carried out an online survey in six countries (Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the United States). According to the survey, four out ten adults spoke to a career guidance advisor in the previous five years. Contrary to perceptions that career guidance concerns mainly young people in school, these results suggest that there is actually substantial demand for career guidance among adults. Most adult users speak to a career guidance advisor at least twice. The most frequently reported reasons for seeking career guidance are to receive help looking for jobs (32%) and to learn about education and training options (25%).

However, many of the same groups who already face labour market disadvantage and low training participation use career guidance less. The largest gaps are found between prime-age individuals (25-54) and older people (age 55+) (22 percentage points), followed by adults living in cities and in rural areas (14 percentage points), high- and low-educated adults (11 percentage points), men and women (8 percentage points) and the employed and the unemployed (2 percentage points). Workers in occupations with a high risk of automation are also less likely to use career guidance than those in occupations with a lower risk of automation. The differences between groups reflect a mix of attitudes towards career guidance, awareness of available services, and how career guidance initiatives are targeted. For instance, the small difference between the employed and the unemployed reflects that career guidance is often part of the re-employment support offered by public employment services.

Most adults who do not use career guidance services report that they do not feel they need to (57%). Older adults and less-educated adults are over-represented in this group. Another 20% of non-users report that they were not aware that career guidance services existed. A third sizeable barrier related to the lack of time for work or personal reasons (11%). Reaching out to disadvantaged adults to connect them with available services could improve training participation rates and labour market outcomes for these groups.

Read the full report online here