The CDI Scotland Student conference #CDIscotconf: a space to discuss changing career guidance practice

Yesterday, I was delighted to present at the CDI student conference on the topic of knowledge co-creation in career development. A copy of my slides can be accessed here. My supervisor Hazel Hall also blogged about the conference here. Many thanks to the Career Development Institute for hosting this session and for giving me a platform to talk about my Masters research!

The CDI conference brought together students, practitioners, and renowned researchers in a shared consideration of how career guidance practice is changing against the background of COVID-19 and changing labour markets. The full conference programme, complete with a list of speakers and session abstracts, can be found here.

The main argument of my workshop was that knowledge co-creation has been vital to career guidance services during the pandemic, and that it will continue to facilitate the adaptation of career services to the new normal, whatever that may look like. To illustrate this argument, I presented the key findings of my pilot study exploring knowledge co-creation in a sample of career practitioners working at Skills Development Scotland. In addition, I elaborated on my observations of the success conditions for knowledge co-creation in career services, and put forth the following key points:

  • Knowledge co-creation is not the same as innovation – although knowledge co-creation generates new ideas which may lead to innovation by becoming embedded in new work processes and initiating cultural shifts.
  • Knowledge creation is a social exercise, hence the usage of the term knowledge co-creation!
  • Knowledge Management (KM) is where knowledge co-creation discourse originated. However, communities of practice and learning communities can tell us something important about self-organising modes of assembly and what people actually do in practice.
  • I identified four knowledge co-creation practices in my research: Information-seeking, Information-sharing, Contextualisation work, and Asking for help. Each of these practices was deployed in a specific context and had a vital role to play in knowledge co-creation.
  • Technologies facilitated knowledge co-creation, and so did formal co-creation channels such as team meetings, reflective practice sessions, and working groups.

Audience engagement was excellent, and I was pleased to receive questions and comments demonstrating an openness to knowledge co-creation and technology adoption in post-pandemic career guidance. My work seemed to resonate especially well with career practitioners, who stepped up to express their interest in future research of knowledge co-creation in career settings. Some themes that emerged in discussions were:

  • The value of knowledge co-creation between career practitioners and clients. This was something that I had identified as an avenue for future research previously, so it was great to get some validation of my idea. Co-creation interactions between and within various groups of people involved in career development would also be interesting to explore, such as knowledge co-creation between clients, and between career practitioners and external partners/collaborators.
  • The role of technology in the ‘new normal’. I felt like an expert when being asked to give my opinion on what I think will happen in terms of technology adoption as we move into the ‘new normal’! I argued for a blended approach that takes stock of what technology does best, and what face-to-face career guidance practice does better. I believe that technology will have a much more prominent role in career development in 2022 than it had in 2020, since we now see the benefits of incorporating it into our practice (e.g., geographically dispersed teams can now meet instantly without needing to travel, and some tasks can be completed much quicker).
  • As a side note to the above topic, I received several questions about which areas of career guidance practice can be moved online, and about whether information-sharing and reflective practice can be done just as well online as they would have been done face-to-face. There is a comparative sensibility at play here, and an evaluation of possible futures, that should be taken note of. Career practitioners are open to technology and see it as a game changer, but I think that we now need to objectively evaluate what areas of practice can be expedited and improved via technologies, and what areas of practice are better done face-to-face. This both opens us up to innovative ways of delivering career guidance, and keeps us grounded and present with our clients when they need it most. This evaluation of possible futures will need to be an on-going conversation between us all, and it will need to be informed both by new research data into comparative career guidance sensibilities, and by insights emerging at the coalface of career guidance practice throughout 2021.

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