Career and Workforce Development and its Role in Maintaining a Competitive Global Economy

Authored by: V. Scott H. Solberg

The Handbook of Career and Workforce Development

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138886568
eBook ISBN: 9781315714769
Adobe ISBN:


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With the promise of higher wage earnings and employment rates, economists and researchers are making a connection between providing access to quality career development programs and services as a workforce development strategy (Career Industry Council of Australia, 2006; OECD, 2004; Whiston & Blustein, 2013). The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is interested in how career development efforts can mobilize and develop a “talent pipeline” of youth and adults who pursue high demand occupations (Tyszko, Sheets, & Fuller, 2014). Federal agencies are interested in whether and how career development can increase employment rates among a range of high-risk populations (OVAE, 2014; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2016). Additionally, states are turning to career development to support college and career readiness efforts (Achieve and The Education Trust, 2008) by serving as the motivating mechanism that enables youth and their families to become more self-directed and committed to developing the skills needed to enter and complete a postsecondary program or degree (vanBruinswaardt, Solberg, & Jarukitisakul, 2015). One important point of tension between career development and workforce development interests is how to balance individual rights to engage in self-determination with regard to defining their own career interests and intentions, while being responsive to regional labor market needs, as well as encouraging the pursuit of high-income careers that support community services by generating higher tax revenue. From the perspective of emancipatory communitarianism (Prilleltensky, 1997), the goal is to design career development programs and services in a manner that balances these interests. We need to design career development strategies that empower the individual (emancipatory efforts) with the skills needed to navigate into careers they wish to pursue. And we need to design such efforts in a manner that individuals explore regional labor market conditions; evaluate the expected economic return on investment between the costs of training/education and future wage earning expectations; and encourage an awareness that as citizens, our employment support the economic needs of our community (communitarian efforts).

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