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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Blueprint for career development in Australia

Christine Haines and Katie Scott
Christine Haines is Director and Katie Scott is Senior Research Associate at Miles Morgan Australia


Many excellent career programs and services currently operate throughout Australia. It has, however, been widely observed that we lack an 'active' national framework that specifies the competencies that all Australians need to acquire in order to build their careers. The Australian Blueprint for Career Development is a new initiative that aims to fill this gap. The Australian Blueprint project involves preparing and testing a framework for the development of career services and products for children, youth and adults across the country.

The project has been initiated by the Transition from School Taskforce of MCEETYA, the primary coordinating body for national career and transition policy in Australia. In 2001, Australia participated in a comparative review of career information, guidance and counselling services, and the OECD recommended in its Country Note that Australia should pursue its intention to develop a unifying framework or blueprint for the coordination and integration of career development services across all jurisdictions. The OECD also recommended that this framework be based on the Canadian Blueprint for Life/Work Designs. Miles Morgan Australia was appointed to undertake the first stage of the project.

The Australian Blueprint has a very broad scope, and is designed to be used by everyone from curriculum developers, policy analysts and career resource producers, to work experience coordinators and career and employment counsellors. It can be used within and beyond the schools setting.

The main aims of the Australian Blueprint include:

  • identifying the competencies that people need to manage their career building process, from kindergarten through to adulthood
  • providing a systematic process for developing, implementing, evaluating and marketing career development programs, or redesigning and enhancing existing programs
  • enabling career resource producers to design products, programs and services that address specific competencies, and allow purchasers of these products to identify which competencies are addressed in the products
  • providing a common language for career development initiatives throughout the country, and across the lifespan of individuals, so that individuals can move from one career development setting to another and have their needs met seamlessly, with consistent and quality service provision. It also enables governments to monitor access to services more effectively, while allowing sufficient flexibility at the local level to ensure that career development services reflect local needs.

The development process

Before September 2003 Miles Morgan Australia is required to:

  • examine the Canadian Blueprint for Life/Work Designs, to assess its 'fit' with current understandings and nationally agreed principles for career activities in Australia, and to explore how applicable it may be to the Australian setting
  • in consultation with relevant stakeholders, make modifications to the Canadian Blueprint in order to increase its appropriateness for use in Australia
  • provide advice on a process and timeframe for implementation of the resulting Australian Blueprint.

At the core of the Canadian Blueprint are eleven competencies that support people's career development from childhood through to adulthood, by building their personal, work and learning skills. Competency 2, for example, charts the ability to interact positively with others, while Competency 7 tracks the ability to secure, create and maintain work. Each competency is elaborated in terms of performance indicators, which detail the specific knowledge, skills and attitudes of the competency. The progressive development of competencies is traced through four levels from beginning school to adulthood.

The Canadian Blueprint also provides for the development of local performance standards. The particular appeal of this is that users in any setting or context can identify their own performance standards and can monitor outcomes. These standards can be jurisdiction specific and reflect distinctive local labour market conditions. However, the Canadian Blueprint ensures consistency and quality by specifying what these standards must reflect - that is, what individuals are required to do, under what conditions, and to what standard - in order to demonstrate their competence.

Since January, we have mapped the Canadian Blueprint against key policies, initiatives and undertakings that are occurring in the careers field to ensure that it 'fits' with what is happening in Australia. We are pleased this process has been able to demonstrate that the Canadian Blueprint will not conflict with what is already happening here. It will, in fact, serve as a mechanism to facilitate new career development programs and to enhance existing programs.

To ensure that the prototype is informed by the most up-to-date ideas in career development, an issues paper, Managing Life, Learning and Work in the 21st Century, has been written by Mary McMahon, Wendy Patton and Peter Tatham. These well-known authors have substantial academic and practical expertise, and their paper will contribute significantly to Australian Blueprint policy decisions.

We will be holding a series of workshops around the country in July and August, where we will be seeking feedback on our first draft of the Australian Blueprint. You are encouraged to attend and have your say. Contact Miles Morgan Australia for details of the workshops and other developments on the project.

Subject Headings

Transitions in schooling
Vocational guidance