The exploration of social justice as a critical element of career guidance stems directly from our endeavors as career guidance practitioners within the National School Support Services. Because of our daily encounters with students seeking guidance and having to confront numerous situations that challenge our values and ethical beliefs, social justice has emerged for us not only as a fundamental part of career guidance, but also as an object of a personal quest.
Our Experience started off with a number of Study Visits in Brno, Czech Republic. We visited the Gymnasium (Elementary School), AGAPO, Zs Bakalovo nabrezi (Elementary School) and the Centre for Education. The study visits offered an opportunity to learn more about a context of career guidance and counselling in Central Europe. We were given the opportunity to witness at first hand, the great inclusive practices currently in place. These visits proved to be a great learning curve and a fruitful experience in helping us bridge the gap between theory and good practice. During these visits we had the opportunity to discuss our local career guidance system and exchange views with other delegates coming from countries such as Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, Denmark and many more.
Following the visits, we also participated in the IAEVG 2019 Global Symposium for career guidance and counselling professionals and organizations entitled “Dialogue and Cooperation”, also in Brno, Czech Republic. The overarching goal of this Symposium, a preliminary event before the IAEVG Conference in Bratislava, is the advancement of career development in our countries, regions and on an international level. It has been a great experience attending the Symposium which was intended to continue the dialogue started in former IAEVG Symposia and to intensify cooperation and/or co-creation of initiatives in continuation of this event. This is in line with the recommendations from the previous IAEVG Symposium 2018 in Gothenburg. The discussions were very informative and insightful on various subjects. Serving as a catalyst for the discussions, the following special theme was chosen: How can the guidance community support inclusive and democratic societies? Guest speakers and experts were asked to reflect on this theme as a starting point for the dialogue and later on when conclusions were drawn.
During the symposium, we were given the opportunity to network and discuss with other participants during the various initiatives and projects currently taking place in different countries. The following themes were identified during the table discussions; Social Justice and Advocacy, Technology and Social Media in career intervention, Research in Career Development and Public Policy and Career Development. Countries were offered the possibility of submitting a case of a guidance approach, method, instrument, or a research or training project which led to cooperation between partners in the Career Guidance community in their country, region or on a global level. We shared our insights of a research project on professionalisation (a project funded by Euroguidance MT) and conducted by the Malta Career Guidance Association – the association representing career guidance practitioners in Malta. Representatives from the different countries gave their feedback and shared the challenges faced in their own countries on the issue in question. This discussion was very insightful.
Our experience also included participation in the IAEVG Conference in Bratislava, Slovakia. The purpose of the conference was to continue discussing this special theme. Keynote sessions were addressed by international experts in the area. On the other hand, the conference workshops and parallel sessions provided us with the opportunity to engage in discussion about various themes, such as ICT in Career Guidance and Mentoring Programmes in different contexts. These sessions were also delivered by leading experts in the area of career guidance and social justice.
The study visits, symposium and conference strengthened our resolve to implement practices which support social justice, which adds a further dimension to career guidance and is another hallmark of a quality service to our students.