Ensuring the delivery of quality career education in Australian schools

Michael Healy – Head of Career Development and Employability, Career Ahead

A recent publication from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education argued for the enormous contribution that quality career education in schools can make to students and society. However, they note that this potential can only be realised with adequate resourcing and professional development support for career development practitioners. For inspiration of what this might look like, we can look to some important initiatives happening in other countries.

The World of Work program, in the Cajon Valley Union School District in San Diego, is bringing high quality careers education to the district’s 17,000 K-12 students. Underpinned by a simple theoretical framework based on Holland’s RIASEC codes, students explore their strengths and preferences in a range of experiential activities, seamlessly integrated through the curriculum. The career exploration activities shared on their Twitter account are a testament to their teachers’ creativity and enthusiasm.

In the UK, the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance provide a framework to support quality career education in schools. To support schools in meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks, the Careers and Enterprise Company offers dedicated professional development and resources to the Careers Leaders in each school who lead career education planning and delivery. Recognising that leading career education in schools can be a lonely occupation, they have been bringing these Careers Leaders together in regional networks for knowledge exchange and collegial support.


Quality career education is not actually that complicated. Both examples shared are based on the simple recipe of qualified career development practitioners working in collaboration with teachers to make career education an everyday part of the classroom learning experience. The first step in elevating career education in Australia is to invest in the professional development of those who do the work – career development educators and teachers – so that we can truly claim to be taking a “whole of school” approach to career education.

The Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA) has identified a Graduate Certificate of Career Development as the essential entry-level qualification for career development practitioners. These qualifications are aligned with CICA’s professional standards and code of ethics, and provide educators with the necessary foundation from which to develop quality career education and guidance programs.

Career Ahead’s Graduate Certificate of Career Development has been adapted specifically for a secondary education context – find out more here.

Are you interested in becoming a qualified Career Practitioner?