E-perfect job

Education Policy Analysis
OECD Observer

Finding a satisfying career is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Nor is it easy in modern, complex labour markets: job content changes, new occupations grow, other occupations decline. Yet, if people can find the work they want, then both human happiness and the efficiency of the labour market increase. Where to start?

Good career guidance is one way to go, according to Education Policy Analysis, and as public funds are scarce, a computer is a first step. There is a profusion of resources on the Internet, with many sites directed to students planning their futures, or young people looking for jobs. Join the military, choose a major, find a college, get vocational training. But many are too narrow or self-interested to meet people’s needs, and the notion of developing employability throughout a lifetime seems to be beyond most career guidance remits.

Education Policy Analysis admits that web-based services are at best a partial solution. In Ireland, for example, where Internet access costs are high, web-based information is not readily accessible, in particular to those with low incomes and low qualifications. Basic skills are needed to use the Internet, and know-how required to ferret out the useful sites. Also, a comprehensive resource like Australia’s national site (www.myfuture.edu.au) is by definition geared to a wide public.

Another solution, as Education Policy Analysis suggests, is to expand public employment services into community centres for lifelong learning and skill development, integrating ICT-based resources. Another would be to use a market-based approach. If policymakers could sell the idea to private investors, cyber-cafés operated by career counsellors could not only expand their own remits, but the job prospects of many adults as well.


Highlights of Education Policy Analysis 2003 and ordering details are available at www.oecd.org/edu/epa2003

©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003

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