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Career counseling of adults - what to do when we have a job?

The traditional approach to career taught us to prepare for the world of work through education-when we get the first job we keep it till retirement.

The traditional approach to career has taught us to prepare for the world of work through education - when we get a job, we only need to progress vertically in one company and we will certainly be in that company until retirement. However, such a model does not correspond to the reality of people. A modern career approach indicates to us the possibilities to change more jobs, return to the education system after employment and continuously work on improving our skills.

The difference in the traditional and modern approach to career was also reflected in career guidance and counseling. There is still a belief amongst many that career counseling is only necessary when individuals are opting for high school, college, and / or future careers. However, the reality is different. Given the major changes that individuals go through throughout their lives, there is a need for continuous additional support in the career management process. Taking into account the changes that adults go through during their career, it is understandable that employment does not end their need for support in career development. During this process, the role of support provider, in addition to career practitioners, can be provided by employees in the field of human resources.

The results of an international survey, in which 6 European countries participated, including Serbia, showed that despite the need for this, this type of support for employees is still not sufficiently developed, especially in small and medium enterprises. To further investigate this issue from the perspective of career practitioners and human resources employees themselves, an initial survey was conducted in which 27 practitioners participated - 16 human resources employees, most of whom work in large companies, and 11 career practitioners from the sector. education and employment.

There are similarities in how career practitioners and human resources employees see their role in supporting other employees.

Although the goal of counseling services is the same, research has shown that the roles and areas in which career practitioners and human resource managers operate may differ. Human resources experts, as well as career practitioners, consider their role very important in the field of incorporation of new employees as well as in the development of personal and social skills of employees, but differences can be noticed in the activities they perform.

Counseling for career improvement and decision-making are activities that career practitioners examined said they do often, as opposed to human resources professionals, who more often said they deal with quality development and innovation. Human resources experts recognize their concern especially when it comes to the recruitment process. On the other hand, career practitioners have recognized their role and space for the development of management skills as well as in the development of expertise and skills.

Certain groups of adults are rarely recognized as users of career guidance and counseling services.

Human resources staff, as well as career practitioners relatively often include people who are recently employed, people who are recognized as talents, and those who are preparing for managerial positions, as well as individuals who are at risk of getting fired. Some of the respondents who deal with human resources stated that they provide career guidance and counseling services for people returning from leave for child care.

On the other hand, people with disabilities, older employees, and employees preparing for retirement are less likely to be recognized as groups in need of career development support. The career practitioners and human resources employees have not had the opportunity to work with them or because they are less likely to be recognized as a target group for this support group. The situation is similar for people from the migrant population.

In terms of these results, a similar trend is noticed in the countries where the survey was conducted (Chart 1).

However, they point out that certain groups of employees are not recognized by career practitioners or human resources employees.  Access to career guidance and counseling services is likely to be limited to these groups.

Therefore, different measures must pay special attention to their inclusion in existing career guidance and counseling services or the development of new services intended for them. Also, topics of working with vulnerable groups of employees could be included in the framework of professional development of human resources employees and career practitioners.

Cooperation and networking of career practitioners and human resources employees are already taking place to some extent, but it could be improved.

At the moment, some human resources experts stated that on certain occasions they actively cooperate with career guidance experts. On the other hand, most career practitioners working in this field state that they communicate with employees in human resources and actively cooperate with them.

Some career practitioners have expressed the need for in-depth cooperation with companies and access to examples of good practice and resources in the field of supporting career development for employees, both nationally and internationally. Similarly, the human resources experts who participated in the survey also saw the importance of career counseling and the benefits of working with representatives of professional institutions or independent experts in the field of career guidance and counseling.

Towards further development of career guidance and counseling services for adults

The research, albeit on a smaller scale, provides an initial basis for addressing an important topic in the field of career guidance and counseling for adults, which has not been largely the subject of analysis so far - support for the career development of employees in companies. Initial results indicate that this support is not widely present. Some significant activities are carried out, but not all employee groups are often involved. Given that the initial survey involved large companies, it can be assumed that the situation in small and medium enterprises is even more unfavorable. Nevertheless, career practitioners, as well as human resources employees who participated in the research, recognize the need to provide this type of support, as well as mutual cooperation that would make this support even better, which is a good basis for future activities in this area.

More information on the research is available in the National survey on the current practices, needs, and requirements of experts and professionals in the fields of CGC and HRM in Serbia, which contains data on the current implementation of career support services for adults. The research was conducted within the project "CONNECT! – Connecting Career Counselling and Human Resource Development in Enterprises for Higher Education and Training in Practice." The aim of the project is to connect career guidance and counseling on the one hand and the development of human resources in companies on the other hand through higher education and training in practice. Additional information is available on the project website https://connect-erasmus.eu.

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