Guest blogger: Adults also need career coaching

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When we talk about career coaching, many might think of young people choosing where to study, but adults also need help when changing careers. Expert career coaching is available on the market. 

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The need for high-quality career coaching for adults is not new. OECD’s report published this year Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work (https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/9a94bfad-en/index.html?itemId=/content/publication/9a94bfad-en) describes the use of adult career coaching services in OECD countries. According to the report, career coaching is an important tool to help adults navigate the constantly changing labour market.

The work life is undergoing an enormous transformation: jobs with medium wages will disappear and new professions will arise. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated change. With corona, people who had previously been in the tourism and restaurant sector, for example, have had to wonder if any other sector could offer them work. Although jobs in the sectors that corona hit the hardest will certainly come back, employment and career coaching services must also offer help to shorten periods of unemployment. 

The transformation of work has affected both the supply and demand of skills. On the supply side, adults with low-level education have been overrepresented among those who lost their jobs. On the demand side, the crisis is likely to accelerate the deployment of digital technology and automation, which in turn increases demand for special skills.

Those who need career coaching do not use services

People who are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market use the career coaching services the least. Especially those over 55 years of age, those living in rural areas or those with little education do not use career coaching. However, many of them need services like additional training to find work. Professional career coaching can identify new job opportunities and propose necessary training. 

The report states that awareness of the benefits of career coaching should be increased, especially for those who are disadvantaged in the labour market. According to the report's proposals for measures, it is not enough to extend the availability of services, but to ensure that the special needs of different groups (employed, unemployed, inactive) can be met.  

Outsourced services provide additional resources and cost savings

According to the report, the quality of career coaching must be improved by monitoring the results, setting quality standards and professionalising career coaches. High-quality career coaching must be tailored to the individual's specific needs.  

In Finland, TE Offices and municipal employment trials can acquire different career coaching services as outsourced services. For example, HR companies offer high-quality, professional and customisable services that the report calls for. Private service providers are familiar with the changing labour market and have contacts with companies offering work. Career coaching services should therefore be continuously developed in cooperation with service providers in order to obtain better services. 

By making use of outsourced services, additional resources and eventually also cost savings can be achieved, as the funds invested in them will be returned as tax revenue and social security expenditure will be reduced as the employment rate improves. 

Job Market Finland must be further developed

Job Market Finland has been developed in Finland over the past few years. It is intended to become a service for working life in the future, which provides a shared service platform for public, private and third-sector providers of working life and education services. The service platform can easily offer diverse working life services.

An online working life service, much like Job Market Finland, was also brought up in the proposals in the report. According to the report, an online service platform must be user-friendly and collect information from different sources in one place. It should provide information on skills needs, training and traineeships programmes and their quality, costs, and opportunities to receive financial support for them. Such information on a single platform could encourage those at risk of unemployment to participate in career services at an early stage. The user-friendliness and efficiency of the online service will improve if it offers the opportunity to communicate with career advisors, for example through chat or online meetings.

A trial version of Job Market Finland is still in use, and the te-palvelut.fi website is still used together with the service. The service must be developed promptly so that the trial version can be left behind soon.

Job Market Finland already offers services such as career coaching services offered by private service providers. However, private service providers' services are not marketed to individual customers in a very visible manner, and it remains slightly unclear how the jobseeker can use the services and how to apply for them. As the career coaching services are often not used by those who need them the most, the services should be easily visible and accessible.

When the services are made visible and when the system can start identifying the user's needs, it could encourage them to engage in the services in order to speed up employment. Job Market Finland should also have more visibility and more users, as the service will not provide added value unless people know about it. Cooperation with both companies and private service providers should be further increased so that Job Market Finland can redeem its position as a future working life service.

Merru Tuliara 
Managing Director
The Private Employment Agencies’ Association HPL