Something happened this week that was quite exciting for me: the Canadian Journal of Career Development (CJCD) published our research in an article called A Needs Assessment of Virtual Career Practitioners.
As you may remember, ASPECT received support from the Future Skills Centre, funded by the Government of Canada, to investigate the transition of our members from in-person employment services to virtual employment services and identify gaps in competencies. We wanted to collect and record information from the experts in the community to inform funders. Our weekly ASPECT member meetings sparked us to undertake this research as we discussed how CDPs were managing the transition.
With the help of nine ASPECT members from throughout the province, whom we called the Virtual Learning Consortium, we designed an online survey and questions for a series of focus groups. Using the not-yet-released National Competency Profile for Career Development Professionals
as a framework, we set out to answer the questions pertaining to virtual services:
- What competencies do CDPs currently have?
- What are the skills gaps and obstacles?
- How can the employment services sector address the situation with responsive solutions?
The CJCD article addresses the first two questions. It shows that engaging with reluctant clients, digital literacy, building rapport with clients, and addressing client health are the top four areas that became more difficult in transitioning to virtual services.
Amongst other findings, we were surprised to note that there was very little difference in the ages of CDPs and their challenges with technology. On the client-side of the research, we were surprised that youth did not fare as well with virtual services as one would expect from a population who seem to live their lives online.
The final report to the Future Skills Centre is still in progress, but we were delighted to take one part of our research and present it with academic rigour. Our final report will outline more answers to question three above as it is not included in the publication.
There is so much gratitude to share: the participants in our weekly member meetings, those who served on the virtual learning consortium that helped steer the research, and the many of you who responded to the survey and contributed through the focus groups. None of this research would be possible without you.
Also, special thanks to our academic lead, Dr. Roberta Borgen and Cassie Taylor, our outstanding research assistants Erica Thomson and Bennett King-Nyberg, our project partner Deborah Bromley and her team at ETHOS Career Management. Thank you to all of you who do this work every day. I hope you can share in my excitement about this published record of the work you have been doing over the past two years.