This report summarize the findings of seven case-studies of public policy in career guidance carried out in Chile, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. The objectives of this World Bank study were: to identify and describe the distinctive issues faced by developing and transition economies in forming effective policies in career guidance and counseling; to identify emerging examples of best practice, and suggest how such countries can form more effective policies and programs in this field; and to assist the World Bank and other development agencies in determining how they can best assist such efforts. World Bank client countries are often faced with distinctive issues. These include limited public resources, high unemployment and poverty, large informal economies, need for community capacity building, and at times specific family and cultural factors which may have a major impact on career decision-making.
Current career guidance provision in the seven case-study countries is reviewed in terms of five main sectors: schools; tertiary education; public employment services; employer-based services; and the private and voluntary sectors. This provision reflects a traditional policy rationale in which career guidance is viewed in somewhat institutional and reactive terms, as a measure designed to lubricate the operation of the education system and its relationship to the labor market, and to combat such phenomena as unemployment or mismatch.
There are however signs of a more dynamic and proactive policy rationale emerging in middle-income countries, as is the case in developed countries. Career guidance is increasingly viewed as an integral part of a human resource development strategy designed to harness technological and economic change and enable the country to compete effectively in global markets. Under this view, career guidance has an important role to play in encouraging all individuals, including youth and adults, to engage in career planning and learning throughout life, so enabling them to respond more flexibly to the opportunities offered by a dynamic labor market. This view is supported by changing concepts of career development. It requires extending access to career guidance services, constructing more of these services on a self-help basis, strengthening career and educational information resources, and improving staffing in a more differentiated form.
Based on this analysis of the case-studies, four general conclusions are reached to assist middle-income countries in developing services. First, provision of services needs to be viewed as a coherent system, with multiple stakeholders developing different elements of service delivery. Second, governments have a key role in developing the services, but should not be viewed as sole providers. Third, restrictions on public resources require priorities to be established: these include an initial focus on improving career and educational information, followed by investing in self-help services, exploiting the use of information and communications technology, improving staff training, and developing incentives to encourage the private and NGO sectors to develop and deliver services. Finally, an evidence base of client demand, service cost, and service impact needs to be developed to defend investments.