Cannexus20 explored career development in Canada through many different lenses

A record near 1,300 delegates from across the country and around the world gathered in Ottawa from Jan. 27-29, 2020 for the Cannexus National Career Development Conference to learn about and discuss the issues shaping work and well-being in Canada, including community social enterprise, youth empowerment, mental health, future skills and reconciliation.

Conference highlights included:

  • Three phenomenal keynote speakers: Social entrepreneur Zita Cobb shared her inspiring work to revive Fogo Island, NL with lessons for preserving small communities throughout rural Canada; UK researcher Tristram Hooley made a powerful case for why politicians should care about career development and set out the evidence for its social and economic impact; and Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, discussed improving the well-being of the 65,000 Inuit in Canada during a time of reconciliation.
  • Delegates received complimentary copies of Strengthening Mental Health Through Effective Career Development: A Practitioner’s Guide – written by Dave Redekopp and Michael Huston of Life-Role Development Group Ltd (and available for free download). Two other new CERIC publications were also launched: Career Work in Action based on the Guiding Principles of Career Development and the 2020 edition of Computing Careers & Disciplines: A Quick Guide for Prospective Students and Career Advisors.
  • Cannexus delegates got a look at the first results of the 2019 CERIC Survey of Career Service Professionals – a national survey that was completed by more than 1,350 career professionals across Canada last year. It includes a demographic snapshot, learning priorities and public perceptions of the career development field. A new section of the survey focusing on the regrets, anxieties and myths that career professionals are hearing about from students and clients generated considerable media interest.

This year’s Cannexus featured more than 150 education sessions, with some of the most-attended covering career development and mental health; enhancing economic activity through public, private & not-for profit collaboration; students’ perspectives on careers; identifying experiential learning outcomes; labour market trends in an age of disruption; preparing for the future of work; soft skills for employment retention; trauma-informed career practice; design thinking for career development; and the power of LinkedIn and social reciprocity.

Other programming included a Workforce Development Spotlight that examined newcomer integration, transforming workforce systems and students in a global workforce. The always-popular Spark! TED-style talks returned, a new World Cafe crowdsourced ideas around youth empowerment and the powerful KAIROS Blanket Exercise built understanding of Canada’s shared history among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The latest programs, products and services were also showcased by 45 exhibitors in a sold-out exhibit hall in addition to special Zones focused on raising awareness of organizations doing work in Mental Health, Social Enterprise and Reconciliation.

In a post-conference survey, a total of 95.9% of respondents rated Cannexus as good to excellent. The majority of delegates indicated that they plan to either use what they learned at work right away or incorporate it over time, with 95.6% stating they plan to share what they learned with their colleagues to impact change broadly. Comments included:

“Cannexus20 was very interesting, motivating and inspirational. The presenters are amazing and knowledgeable. All of the aspects of this conference are beneficial and educational. I strongly recommend it to everyone who is either in career development or career counselling.”
– Michèle Elliott, Indigenous Navigator, Indigenous Services Canada

“Cannexus offers a national conversation on what’s current – and what’s coming – for career development. It’s a dialogue you won’t find anywhere else. Thank you for building a conference that is an important part of professional growth for our team.”
– Kim Kiloh, Director, Centre for Student Involvement & Careers, University of British Columbia

“Cannexus20 was a great event packed with informative presentations and it allowed for meaningful connections with colleagues in the career development field. It was an energetic and engaging event. Looking forward to Cannexus21.”
– Karen Mulrooney, Program Co-ordinator, Job Connect NL

To learn more about Cannexus20:

Cannexus20 was presented by CERIC and supported by The Counselling Foundation of Canada with a broad network of 37 supporting organizations and sponsors.

The dates for the next Cannexus are Jan. 25-27, 2021 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. The Call for Presenters will open this spring.


CERIC survey results offer snapshot of the state of career development in Canada

If you’re a career professional in Canada, chances are you identify as female (a whopping 82.6% of you do), have a Bachelor’s degree, and are between 45 and 54 years of age. You are most interested in learning that helps you support adults in career transition, you need research related to mental health more than in the past and the biggest issue you anticipate affecting your practice is government funding. This snapshot of the field comes from the newly released results of the 2019 CERIC Survey of Career Service Professionals.

This latest CERIC Survey of Career Service Professionals is a national survey that was completed by 1,350 career professionals across Canada from November 1-29, 2019 – making it the largest response yet. The findings help CERIC, and the field at large, to better understand interests and challenges among career professionals, as well as priorities for professional development. This comprehensive survey is only done once every four years. It was previously run in 2011 and 2015 and provides rich data on the state of the career services community in Canada and how it has changed over time.

Education, salary and career progression

Survey results underscore the diversity of the career development field in Canada when it comes to educational background. For 21.4% of respondents, career development itself was the main focus of their highest level of applicable post-secondary studies, followed by 17.6% who had a background in education, and 12.2% who cited counselling, guidance or educational psychology. A total of 79.9% of career professionals hold a Bachelor’s degree while a further 35.3% have a Master’s.

Consistent in both 2019 and 2015, the top two services career professionals are engaged in are: career counselling and coaching, and employment advising and job coaching, followed by program planning/program delivery in this year’s survey. Career professionals reported that the top elements affecting their ability to effectively deliver their services are (respondents could check all that apply):

  • Heavy workload (49.4%)
  • Insufficient time to spend with clients/students (40.1%)
  • Inadequate financial resources (38.0%)
  • Limited support from institutional/organizational leadership (26.1%)
  • Limited access to appropriate resources (23.7%)

Levels of experience in the field are fairly evenly spread out with just under half of career professionals (47.6%) having 10 or fewer years of experience and just over half (50.4%) having more than 10 years of experience. Salaries reported among career professionals continue to be modest, though increase with experience. Those with 10 or fewer years’ experience report on average making $40,001-$55,000 a year; those with 11-20 years’ experience earn $55,001 to $70,000; and those with more than 20 years’ experience typically make up to $85,000.

Looking ahead to their own career progression, most career professionals see themselves remaining with their current employers. Over the next five years, one-third (33.5%) plan to stay in a similar role within the same organization, while 19.3% expect to move into a more senior role in the same organization, and 18.6% of career professionals anticipate a jump to a different employer. Just over 1 in 10 career professionals (11.6%) intend to be retired by 2025.

On the flip side, career professionals report multiple challenges with hiring for open roles in the field with the number one issue (20.9%) finding candidates with direct education or training in career development, followed by insufficient career development skills (18.5%) and limited experience in the field (15.1%). Specific comments included:

“There are not enough people with appropriate skills.”

“Most candidates have limited counselling skills for working with marginalized, multi-barriered clients.”

“Difficult to attract qualified and experienced people with the compensation package offered.”

Professional development and competency improvement

While those in the field value professional development, budgets provided by employers are limited. More than 1 in 4 career professionals (26.7%) indicate they do not have access to any professional development budget; 21.6% report that they receive less than $500 annually and 19.5% receive between $500 and $1,000. However, the overwhelming majority of career professionals (90.4%) would invest personally in their own professional development, with 52.0% willing to pay under $500 a year.

When it comes to formal learning approaches, career professionals show a preference for face-to-face interaction with half of survey respondents (50.7%) saying their top choice is to train through an in-person seminar or workshop. Rounding out their top three picks are online courses (37.0%) and conferences (36.1%). By contrast, in terms of informal learning, nearly two-thirds of career professionals (62.7%) turn to internet searches to keep up to date, with 48.5% watching video, and 45.8% reading online magazines and newsletters.

Asked which client groups they would prefer to focus their professional development on (and to check all that apply), the majority of career professionals in Canada are interested in strategies and tools that help them work with adult populations facing a variety of barriers:

  • Adults in career transition (57.6%)
  • People with mental health challenges (41.0%)
  • New Canadians/immigrants (39.8%)
  • People with low income (35.5%)
  • Unemployed (35.3%)
  • Post-secondary students (35.1%)

For more than half of career professionals surveyed, high or essential priority competencies to develop in the next year include: client relationship management (eg, case management, group facilitation and working with diverse groups) at 58.0%; personal/network development practices (eg, community-capacity building, stress management and leadership) at 55.3%; and career data competencies (labour market information, future of work) at 54.9%. The top three topics that career professionals would most like to see career development research focus on are: career counselling techniques, LMI such as employment trends – and mental health, which is up considerably from the No. 7 spot in the 2015 survey.

The future: Public perceptions and client concerns

With an eye to the future, career professionals anticipate the most significant changes in their practice over the next five years to be:

  1. Change in government priorities, processes or funding
  2. Impact of technology, AI or automation on jobs and job searching
  3. Labour market shifts, a changing job market and the rise of the gig economy
  4. Increased use of online services, tools, resources and social media
  5. Shifting demographics
  6. Working with more clients or students facing barriers

At the same time, career professionals believe gaps persist in the public perception of the value of career services in Canada compared with the reality:

  • Many respondents (43.3%) felt that the public either doesn’t know career services exist or do not understand the breadth and complexity of services: “I think that the public is mostly unaware of services that are provided by career service professionals.”
  • A smaller group of career professionals (17.7%) believe career services are viewed positively for their life-changing potential but that there is still some lack of clarity around how career services operate: “Invaluable resource, but (public) doesn’t know everything we can help with.”
  • A smaller number of respondents (10.7%) think the public would give mixed reviews to career services based on their range of personal experiences: “Some people perceive great value if they hit a wall and seek help, others don’t need us and therefore don’t see value.”
  • And, finally, a similar number (10.2%) think the predominant public perception is one that is misinformed about the nature of career services: “I think they perceive us as accessible only through college/university career centres for students or government low-income programs.”

For the first time, the CERIC Survey of Career Service Professionals also posed a series of questions related to the anxieties, regrets and myths that career professionals hear from their clients. Career professionals surveyed report that the students and adults they advise say they would go back and change their career choices if they could. Among their clients:

  • 71.7% say “I wish I had understood myself better and chosen a career that is aligned with my values”
  • 66.5% say “I wish I hadn’t been pressured into pursuing a career I didn’t want to pursue”
  • 61% say “I wish I hadn’t played it safe and let fear prevent me from taking a different career direction”
  • 58.8% say “I wished I hadn’t narrowed my options so soon and been able to explore other careers”

Career professionals indicated that Canadians want to balance their search for a career they are passionate about with economic realities. Their clients are evenly divided with 49.4% concerned about their ability to find decent-paying work and 45.3% anxious about making the “right” career decision. In Quebec, however, the number of clients seeking support with career decision-making jumps to 70.2%. Of note, only 3.2% of career professionals nationally report that their clients are fearful of AI/automation and what that means for their job prospects, which differs from would be expected given the level of public discussion around technology displacing workers.

Further exploration of survey results will continue this year with regional and sectoral analysis as well as comparisons with previous surveys.


The Winter issue of Careering highlights ethics and professionalism

This Winter 2020 issue of Careering magazine offers a crash course in many of the ethical dilemmas career professionals face today – what they are, the questions they raise and how to navigate them. Articles highlight the ethical codes available to career professionals, explore the implications of technology and look at ethics related to specific client populations, including newcomers, K-12 students and LGBTQ2+ jobseekers.

Articles in this issue:

…and much more, including:

And these online exclusives:

Careering magazine is Canada’s Magazine for Career Development Professionals and is the official publication of CERIC. It is published three times a year both in print and as an emagazine, including select content in French. Subscribe to receive your free copy. You can also access past issues for free online.

The next issue of Careering will be on the theme of “Rural Workforce Development” and will be a collaboration with the US-based National Career Development Association. Send your article pitches to Editor Lindsay Purchase, lindsay@ceric.ca, by Feb. 14.


Graduate students apply by March 31 to compete for GSEP Award

If you are a full-time graduate student whose academic focus is career development or a faculty member working with full-time grad students in career counselling or a related field, then you want to know about the CERIC Graduate Student Engagement Program (GSEP). Applications for 2020 are due by Tuesday, March 31.

CERIC encourages engagement of Canada’s full-time graduate students (Master or PhD level) whose academic research is in career development or a related field. Research areas such as Education, Sociology, Social Work, Counselling Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Business with a focus on Human Resources or Organizational Behaviour are strongly encouraged to apply.

Through this program, graduate students will be introduced to CERIC and invited to:

Interested in getting involved? Complete and submit this quick GSEP application form. If you are also interested in competing for the GSEP Award, please submit a one-page article on a career development-related topic of your choice (including a 60-word bio) to Marilyn Van Norman, Director, Research Initiatives, at marilyn@ceric.ca by the same March 31 deadline. To support you in sharing this opportunity with students and colleagues, GSEP information can be found at ceric.ca/grad_program and this printable GSEP handout.


Strengthening Mental Health Through Effective Career Development: Guide launches today

In the wake of a global mental health movement, career development practitioners now have a new resource to help them understand how career development interventions support positive mental health. Strengthening Mental Health Through Effective Career Development: A Practitioner’s Guidewritten by Dave Redekopp and Michael Huston of Life-Role Development Group Ltd. and published by CERIClaunches today at the Cannexus20 National Career Development Conference and is available for free download.

The guide enables practitioners to connect career development services with clients’ mental health concerns while working ethically and inside the boundaries of their role and competence. The authors emphasize their focus is mental health, not mental illness, and address this distinction in the book.

Practitioners will be equipped to:

  • Improve the mental health impact of their services
  • Evaluate the mental health impact of their services
  • Communicate the mental health impact of their services to relevant stakeholders, including policy-makers

Written primarily for career development practitioners, namely those who help clients or students, this resource is also of use to the supervisors and managers of career practitioners. Researchers and academics will find a robust and testable model of career development and mental health relationships.

Get Your Copy

  • Download the free epdf
  • Print now available $28.95 via Amazon or Chapters.Indigo or ebook coming soon $19.99 (Kindle or Kobo)
  • Purchase bulk copies (10 or more) at 30% off by contacting sales@ceric.ca
  • At the Cannexus conference in Ottawa, attendees will receive a complimentary print copy.

Advance praise for the book has been received from career development luminaries and mental health experts:

“…This book provides a compelling conceptual framework for integrating mental health and career interventions as well as very accessible strategies and tools. This book will quickly become a classic in the field!”
David L. Blustein, Professor, Counseling Psychology, Boston College

“This is one of the most promising and encouraging works to come into our field in a very long time. This work demystifies mental health and shows how every practitioner can be a powerful change agent through career development practices.”
Kris Magnusson, Professor, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

“This guide is a rare and wonderful combination of thoroughly researched, evidence-based information on the inevitable interplay between career development and mental health, with down-to-earth questions, opportunities for reflection, and pragmatic implications for practitioners in the field. …I believe it should become required reading for new and seasoned practitioners.”
Denise Bissonnette, Career Development Author, Speaker, Trainer, Diversity World

Publishing of this book was made possible in part by the generous contributions of our Knowledge Champions: Ryerson University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Australian Centre for Career Education, Simon Fraser University.


Canadians experiencing high degree of career regret, new national CERIC survey finds

Career professionals report their clients felt pressured into choosing careers they didn’t want to pursue

More than 7 in 10 Canadians who see a career counsellor or coach say they wish they had made different career decisions earlier in their lives, according to a national survey of 1,300+ career service professionals undertaken by CERIC. The results are being released at Cannexus, Canada’s largest career development conference, which will be held Jan. 27-29 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.

The career professionals surveyed report that they often hear from the students and adults they advise that they would go back and change their career choices if they could. They report that among their clients:

  • 71.7% say “I wish I had understood myself better and chosen a career that is aligned with my values”
  • 66.5% say “I wish I hadn’t been pressured into pursuing a career I didn’t want to pursue”
  • 61% say “I wish I hadn’t played it safe and let fear prevent me from taking a different career direction”
  • 58.8% say “I wish I hadn’t narrowed my options so soon and been able to explore other careers”

The findings point to the need for Canadians to have better career development skills, starting at a young age and continuing throughout their lives, says John Horn, Chair of the Board of CERIC, a national charity focused on research and education in career development. These skills include the ability to identify what to learn for the jobs of the future and how to develop the emotional resilience to navigate change – and not be limited by other people’s expectations or our own doubts.

“We all want to have work that makes us spring out of bed in the morning – that feeds our souls and allows us to create the life we want for ourselves and our families,” says Horn.

Canadians want to balance their search for a career they are passionate about with economic realities, say career counsellors surveyed. Their clients are evenly divided, with 45.3% anxious about making the “right” career decision and 49.4% concerned about their ability to find decent-paying work. Of note, only 3.2% of career professionals report that their clients are fearful of AI/automation and what that means for their job prospects, which differs from would be expected given the level of public discussion around technology displacing workers.

Career professionals also identified a number of persistent myths about career development that are constraining people’s ability to find rewarding careers – foremost among them that the vast majority think career guidance ends in Grade 12:

  • 85.2% agree that most Canadians don’t know that career guidance is available beyond high school
  • 82.1% agree that most Canadians think that careers are linear, moving from post-secondary to a job in your field
  • 79.3% agree that most Canadians believe that choosing a career means deciding what to do for the rest of your life
  • 51.2% agree that most Canadians feel that if they only follow their passion, they will land their dream job

Canadians at every age should know that there are professionals they can turn to for career support, says Horn. While teachers, parents and managers all have a role to play, professional career guidance is available, often for free in post-secondary career centres and community agencies, as well as from fee-based, private-sector career coaches.

“Canadians need to take charge of their career development to make the most of their talent and potential – there are professionals who can help,” Horn says. “Working with a career professional can help people identify personal strengths, clarify career goals and build the strategies to pursue a satisfying life.”


Revised for 2020: New edition of guide to computing careers for students and advisors now available

CERIC has released an updated guide to computing careers, responding to strong demand for computing graduates in Canada and a changing technology landscape. Authored by Randy Connolly, Janet Miller and Faith-Michael Uzoka of Mount Royal University, the second edition of Computing Careers & Disciplines: A Quick Guide for Prospective Students and Career Advisors provides the latest information on types of computing careers and the academic pathways to get there. The new guide is available for free download now and will be launched at the Cannexus National Career Development Conference in Ottawa next week.

Computing Careers and DisciplinesFriendly and approachable, the new guide describes the five main computing disciplines as defined by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), as well as expands on six other popular computing specializations. These descriptions are designed to help support prospective students, parents, academic advisors and career counsellors in making sense of the maze of computing disciplines and post-secondary options. For each of the main disciplines, the guide provides an overview of job tasks, as well as listing core courses, sample degrees, and other pathways at Canadian colleges and universities.

The colourful, graphic-rich guide expands on the content of the popular first edition from 2017 to answer these three questions:

  • Why should you consider computing when choosing a career?
  • What kind of computing jobs are out there?
  • What kind of education pathways will guide you to the computing career you desire?

The guide builds on findings from a CERIC-funded international research project that surveyed thousands of students and faculty from Canada, the US and Africa. Research showed most undergraduate students did not understand the differences between computing disciplines. The guide was also developed to meet a need among career advisors supporting students interested in technology at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. The guide assists students to make decisions around computing education and career paths that align with their values, interests and skills. In particular, the guide helps equip students with adequate discipline information prior to application for program admission or prior to when they are required to choose a major.

The updated guide seeks to dispel myths about computing careers. Contrary to stereotypes, computing is often highly social. It also supports flexible lifestyles, can be creative and allows for work abroad. The guide also underscores that computer work is highly varied and is more than just programming.

The five different computing disciplines described in the guide are:

  • Computer Engineering – concerned with the design and construction of computers and computer-based systems
  • Computer Science – covers the widest range of computing topics from its theoretical foundations to the development of new computing technologies and techniques
  • Information Technology – prepares students to meet the computer technology needs of business and other organizations
  • Information Systems – focuses on integrating information technology solutions and business processes
  • Software Engineering – the discipline of developing and maintaining large software systems

Specializations include: network technology, data science, bioinformatics, game development, multimedia + web development and cybersecurity.

The guide highlights that there are many pathways to most computing careers. This includes three- and four-year degrees, two-year diplomas and one-year certificates in addition to stand-alone training or post-degree specialization. The guide also notes that computing careers can be confusing to navigate, as program titles don’t always map to the five discipline areas or to job titles in the workforce.

The new edition of the guide has been enhanced with alumni profiles and additional resources. More content can also now be found on a companion website, computingcareers.ca. A revision to the French version of the guide is under way and expected to be ready this spring.

In addition to a PDF that can be downloaded for free on CERIC’s website at ceric.ca/computing, print copies are available at $10/copy through CERIC for bulk orders of 10 or more. Single copies will be for sale at the Cannexus20 conference only. Contact sales@ceric.ca for more information.

The guide authors will be presenting at Cannexus20 on Computing Disciplines 2.0: What Career Advisors Need to Know on Monday, January 27.


Cannexus20 National Career Development Conference is less than three weeks away

Cannexus is Canada’s largest bilingual National Career Development Conference and will take place January 27-29, 2020 in Ottawa. The conference will bring together more than 1,200 professionals from education, community, government and private sectors to exchange information and explore innovative approaches in career counselling and career and workforce development.

cannexus20 final programme

The final conference programme is now available online and features:

Three new publications from CERIC will debut during the conference:

These resources either are or will also be available for free download on the CERIC website.

Conference registration remains open with discounts for members of supporting organizations, groups and students.

Cannexus is presented by CERIC and supported by The Counselling Foundation of Canada and a broad network of supporting organizations and sponsors.