ERIC Identifier: ED338898
Publication Date: 1991-00-00
Author: Lankard, Bettina A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.

Strategies for Implementing the National Career Development Guidelines. ERIC Digest No. 117.

Career development has become increasingly important to youth and adults who are preparing to work in a society that is typified by changing technologies, job distributions, economic outlooks, employer requirements and expectations, and family structures. Educators, employers, parents, youth, and adults are demanding comprehensive programs that will lead students of all ages through a sequential process of career development that will enable them to succeed in the future workplace. To respond to this expressed need, state and professional associations, as well as national leaders, practitioners, and career development experts, have collaborated to develop the National Career Development Guidelines (National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee 1989).

This ERIC DIGEST examines the National Career Development Guidelines as they apply to elementary, middle/junior high school, high school, and postsecondary levels of education and describes strategies for implementing the guidelines at the various educational levels.


NOICC initiated the guidelines in 1987, field tested them in several states, and revised them accordingly. The guidelines contain 12 competencies that relate to three areas of career development--self-knowledge, educational and occupational exploration, and career planning. The competencies are as follows:


1. Knowledge of the importance of self-concept

2. Skills to interact with others

3. Awareness of the importance of growth and change

Educational and Occupational Exploration

4. Awareness of the benefits of educational achievement

5. Awareness of the relationship between work and learning

6. Skills to understand and use career information

7. Awareness of the importance of personal responsibility

and good work habits

8. Awareness of how work relates to the needs and

functions of society

Career Planning

9. Understanding how to make decisions

10. Awareness of the interrelationship of life roles

11. Awareness of different occupations and changing

male/female roles

12. Awareness of the career planning process

Indicators for each competency describe the specific attitudes, skills, and behaviors required for competence. The competencies and their indicators follow a developmental sequence beginning with awareness of the competencies at the elementary school level, through understanding of the competencies, to implementation of them. Implementation of the guidelines was projected to accomplish the following: (1) strengthen and enhance achievement of career development competencies by students and adults; (2) improve career development programs through review and ongoing structured evaluation; (3) enhance the ability of counseling personnel to deliver competency-based programs; and (4) facilitate assessment of comprehensive career development programs (Oregon Career Information System 1988).


To learn what career development strategies are most effective, Splete and Stewart (1990) conducted a review of career development abstracts included in the ERIC database between 1980 and 1990. Based on their review, the authors presented comments on the type of facilitator, delivery mode, National Guideline area, and competencies identified at each educational level and made recommendations for how the competencies may be achieved by various users. Following is a summary of their report:


At the elementary level, the major activities should focus on self-awareness, attitude development, decision making, and knowledge of the broad characteristics and expectations of work. "Understanding the Continuing Changes in Male/Female Roles" was the competency most frequently addressed in the career planning area, and "Skills to Use and Understand Career Information" and "Understanding the Importance of Self-Concept" were the competencies highlighted in the educational/occupational exploration and self-knowledge areas, respectively. Instruction was provided in large group settings primarily by teachers but with counselors involved in a consulting capacity. The following recommendations for career development at the elementary school level were made (ibid.):

--More parents and community persons should be involved in

presenting career information.

--Increased attention should be given to self-knowledge

activities, especially as they relate to the development of a

positive self-concept.

--Use of media (computer programs, videos, films) should be increased.


At this level, students should learn more about careers, their requirements, and the life-styles they represent. Greater business and industry involvement is needed. Students must be able to relate their educational choices and achievements to realistic career alternatives. "Skills to Make Career Transitions" was the most frequently reported competency in the area of career planning at this level and at the high school and adult levels as well. Career information and self-concept activities continued to receive the most attention at this level. Teachers and counselors were equally involved in providing career guidance and education to students, through both individual and large group instruction. The following are recommendations for middle/junior high schools (ibid.):

--More emphasis on self-knowledge competencies

--More involvement of business persons with students to help them

with educational and occupational exploration and career planning

--Increased attention to the benefits of educational achievement

as the amount of education for different occupations varies

--Increased emphasis on skills necessary to seek and obtain jobs


Individual instruction predominated and counselors were more frequently involved than teachers or other facilitators at this level. Occupational and educational exploration activities received the most attention, particularly the competencies "Skills to Locate, Evaluate, and Interpret Career Information" and "Skills to Prepare to Seek, Obtain, Maintain, and Change Jobs." Self-concept, decision making, and career planning were also emphasized. The following recommendations for the high school level were made (ibid.):

--Increased emphasis on activities related to awareness of

interrelationship of life roles

--Increased emphasis on understanding the relationship of work to

the economy and how work influences life-styles

--Opportunities for students to improve skills to interact with

others, a needed workplace characteristic


The great diversity among adult workers implies that the delivery of services should be targeted to subpopulations such as midcareer changers, dislocated workers, long-term unemployed persons, women entering or reentering the labor force, older workers, limited English proficient adults, handicapped adults, incarcerated adults, preretirees, and retirees. Programs should provide comprehensive and systematic services that will empower these individuals to make important life and career decisions.

Although more services are being provided by business and industry, counselors and teachers remain the major career facilitators at the postsecondary level. The major focus of activities was on career planning, namely "Skills to Make Career Transitions," although job search skills and career information concepts were also emphasized. Business and community agencies are also active providers. Employee assistance and Job Training Partnership Act programs are examples of such services. The following are recommendations for adults' career development (ibid.):

--Involvement of community college students in understanding how

the needs and functions of society influence the nature and

structure of work

--More involvement of business and industry personnel to aid

students' understanding of and transition to future employment

--Continued emphasis on the self-knowledge area in helping adults

look at potential changes and transitions in their lives

--More exposure to career planning activities related to

understanding the impact of work on individuals and family life

and the continuing change in male/female roles

From the recommendations presented by Splete and Stewart (1990), two themes predominate: (1) self-knowledge competencies that promote a positive self-image are important at all educational levels, and (2) parents and business personnel must be more involved in career development activities.


Competency-based models for delivering career development education and guidance are particularly effective in that they are usable by a variety of facilitators through various delivery modes and with diverse types of students at all educational levels. The strength of such program models is that they describe the career development goals and objectives in terms of the specific tasks required for students' progression toward successful employment. By using the indicators for each of the 12 competencies identified in the guidelines, task statements and activities to develop the skills necessary to complete each task can be outlined. Self-assessment, as well as performance evaluation, are facilitated through such models because they establish criteria for successful task performance.

In an organizational setting, competency profiles frequently are developed for given jobs, providing a basis for evaluating the training and development needs of individuals within a department. Department managers can translate the job-specific information and worker competencies into career action plans for employees. One such model developed by Mirabile (1985) promotes the notion of competencies to integrate a career development program into an organization with the view that goals and objectives of any organization are linked, in some way, with human resource requirements.

In any educational setting or format, the implementation of the National Career Development Guidelines by career development providers is important. These guidelines provide standards for creating comprehensive, uniform, and sequential programs and activities to lead students of all ages and at all educational levels through the career development process.


This DIGEST is based on the following reference:


STRATEGIES AND THE NATIONAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES. INFORMATION SERIES NO. 345. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 1990. (ED 327 739)


Mirabile, R. J. "A Model for Competency-Based Career Development." PERSONNEL 62, no. 4 (April 1985): 30-38.

National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee. NATIONAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES. Washington, DC: NOICC, 1989. (ED 317 874-880)


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