myfuture: Australia's career-information and exploration service
myfuture.edu.au is Australia's national online career-information and exploration service. It is an interactive website containing career-related tools and information for all Australians seeking information about their own career development and for those assisting other people with career planning. The service is a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments.
One of the resources on the myfuture website is the publication, Career…more than just a job, written by Dr Mary McMahon and Peter Tatham, which describes the career-development understandings informing the service. The current article summarises aspects of Career…more than just a job and then looks at how myfuture can help schools to provide high-quality career-development support to their students.
For most of the last century, career-development work was seen as a relatively straightforward process of matching individuals to jobs, based on personal qualities and the needs of the labour market. One of the legacies of this approach is the plethora of tools that allow individuals to assess their own vocational personality and match it with particular occupations.
However, changes in the nature of employment have generated new approaches to career development. The world of work is in a continuous and unrelenting process of change, reflecting the impact of globalisation, advances in technology and a move to a knowledge economy. New businesses, industries and jobs are emerging, involving tasks, services and products that may not have existed previously.
Individuals are now likely to experience a succession of jobs in a lifetime. The relationship between organisations and workers is changing from one based on tenure and mutual loyalty to one based on short-term contracts (Patton & McMahon, 2006). Indeed, Australia has one of the most casualised labour markets in the developed world and this may impact on skill formation of workers and their conditions of employment (Nelson & Tonks, 2007). In addition, it is likely that individuals will experience periods of underemployment and unemployment during their careers.
In this environment, the key to success is employability, ie having the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to engage and re-engage in employment. All Australians need to have a very clear understanding of the skills they have, the value of these skills, potential sources of demand for their skills and how their skills might be applied to particular issues and problems. Continuing to learn across the lifespan in formal and informal ways is crucial to the maintenance of such capacity.
New approaches to career development
In response to these social and economic changes, recent approaches to career development seek to extend the agency of individuals in constructing their own careers, over their lifetimes.
Individuals need to develop an understanding of their environment, including the way that the economy and society as a whole impacts on work and careers. They must also learn how to interact positively and effectively with others, build and maintain a positive self-image and develop resilience. They must not only secure/create and maintain work, but also understand the career-building process, which includes knowing how to locate and apply careers information.
Many of these concepts are captured in the Australian Blueprint for Career Development.
These changes are also impacting on career practitioners and their relationship with those seeking career guidance.
Traditionally, career-development practitioners were presented as 'experts', while clients were presented as passive recipients of their knowledge. A new emphasis in career-development work is on enabling individuals to manage their own career development in a constantly changing world (McMahon & Patton, 2000).
A feature of traditional career counselling and career assessment has been their focus on one-on-one work with clients. As demand for career-development services has increased, there is a need to place greater emphasis on career-development programs. Such programs already have a place in schools and some organisations, although the quality and provision of these programs is variable.
Career-development practitioners themselves also need to engage in learning experiences, such as continuing professional development across their professional lifespans. They have a responsibility to prepare clients to monitor and review their learning needs and to engage in appropriate learning.
Advances in technology have enabled a rapid growth in the quantity of career information available to both individuals and practitioners. For example, occupational databases, career-assessment programs and computer-assisted career-counselling programs have the potential to increase access to those based outside sites such as schools, universities and large organisations that have traditionally provided career guidance (Watts, 2000). Further, technology and the digital revolution have broadened the range of services that may be offered, such as telephone help lines, online services, SMS support, video conferencing, e-portfolios and counselling by email.
However, more information is not necessarily better if individuals do not know how to use it properly. Career-development practitioners can identify client-information needs and consider why, how and when information is best used.
Career-development practitioners can provide reliable and accurate information and make it accessible to their clients. In doing so, however, practitioners have a responsibility to be discerning and critical users of career and occupational information, evaluating the quality of information derived from both formal and informal sources and matching them to client needs.
The information provided by practitioners must also be current. Traditional sources of occupational information no longer match the world of work experienced by individuals. For example, new jobs are constantly being created and functions under the same job title are changing rapidly as flexibility in the workforce is embedded. The workforce is now being asked to be flexible, and information providers need to aim at mirroring that flexibility (Sennett, 1998).
myfuture responds to and reflects the current philosophies underpinning career-guidance practices. The national career-information and exploration service provides tools, information and resources for users to access, which support their learning and extend their ability to self-manage their career. The website contains three sections:
My Guide allows users to create a free account and undertake several activities to build a career profile, explore career ideas, make career-related decisions and create a career plan to track their progress towards their career goals. This makes My Guide a great resource for the classroom, as students can email their progress results to teachers. The My Guide Virtual Tour gives potential users an overview of the features and functionality of My Guide.
The Facts features five sections: Careers, Work and Employment, Education and Training, Funding, and Contacts and Skills. Users can browse through a range of articles, profiles and link pages, or search for specific career information by using a number of searchable databases, including:
Assist Others is designed to support teachers, career practitioners and parents providing career guidance to others. The Assist Others section includes:
myfuture is committed to delivering a career-information service that meets the needs of the changing and growing user groups. A number of improvements have been made to myfuture in the past six months, including a new mobile edition, an events calendar and a YouTube channel.
Throughout 2013, myfuture is working with users to develop and implement an updated website that reflects and caters for different life stages, skills, lifestyle choices and cultures in Australia. The redevelopment will ensure that myfuture remains a contemporary and user-focused career-information and exploration service.
McMahon, M., & Patton, W. (2000). Beyond 2000: Incorporating the constructivist influence into career guidance and counselling. Australian Journal of Career Development, 9(1), 25–29.
Nelson, L., & Tonks, G. (2007). Violation of the psychological contract: Experiences of a group of casual workers. Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 15, 22–36.
Patton, W., & McMahon, M. (2006). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice (2nd ed.). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Watts, A.G. (2000). The new career and public policy. In A. Collin & R.A. Young (eds), The future of career, pp 259–275. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Subject HeadingsCareer education