The National Career Development Association hosted a Virtual Press Briefing on April 21, 2021 to honor its National Legislative Award Winners, U.S. Representatives James Langevin, (D-RI) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), authors of the Counseling for Career Choice Act (H.R. 5092). Both representatives, who co-chair the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, shared their views on the importance of career development services with the participants on the video call.
Dr. Seth Hayden, NCDA President, opened the event with welcoming words. “We are honored to have this opportunity to acknowledge public policy efforts to highlight career development as a central feature of the human experience as well as recognize advocates for career and technical education within our legislative branch of government.”
Langevin began by saying he was “humbled to accept an award from a group of people who work with students and adults to help them find their way to promising careers.” He commended NCDA members for their important work and stated that career counseling is essential to recovering from the pandemic. Langevin said he became very interested in this branch of the helping profession during the recession in 2007-09 when businesses had openings, but were unable to fill positions due to the lack of skilled labor. Through his work to increase funding for CTE programs, he did a “deep dive” to create solutions for the challenges of businesses, young people, and the workforce to enhance workforce pipelines. He acknowledged the skills gap is a perpetual challenge, as evidenced in 2020. With the disruption of the pandemic on the educational system, “career counselors have become compasses to guide our young people through the wilderness” of career choice and opportunities as the economy recovers.
Thompson started by sharing his relationship with Langevin- described as the “best example of sustained bipartisan friendships and collaboration.” Both Thompson and Langevin share a passion and commitment for career and technical education and enjoy “building and restoring the rungs on the ladder of opportunity.” Like Langevin, Thompson also commented on the skills gap today and indicated that the Counseling for Career Choice Act helps close that gap because a skills-based education puts individuals in the drivers seat of their future. Smiling as he described himself as a “recovering school board member,” Thompson commended NCDA members for understanding the concept of career readiness and how it “opens the gateway of opportunity.” He shared that through his congressional experience, he learned that a “one-size fits all education plan is a losing strategy” when it comes to preparing students for the workforce. Not all students are college bound and it is important to facilitate decision making for each student based on their interests and skills. The manufacturing and service sectors, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic, have openings and “they are desperate to find their most important asset, a qualified and trained worker.”
Following the representatives’ comments, leaders from NCDA further discussed the importance of quality career services in their various constituencies. Sharon Givens, NCDA President-Elect, representing private practice, described the commitment to serve clients of diverse backgrounds as an opportunity to meet career development needs and provide holistic services so people can make a living and have a notable life. Celeste Hall, Trustee (representing schools), referred to a recent NCDA webinar emphasizing the importance of early workforce development. Diandra Prescod, Trustee (representing higher education), explained that young adults are in a space of confusion and uncertainty, which can lead to depression or anxiety. As this affects career adaptability, career counselors are crucial, and career interventions (backed by research) could increase individuals' confidence in the ability to make decisions, aiding retention in schools and the workforce. Diana Bailey, Chair of the Government Relations Committee (representing workforce), explained that it takes trained, credentialed advisors to meet the needs of clients and we need to look at not just the federal government, but also state and local actions as well.
Read more about NCDA and its advocacy efforts at www.ncda.org
Deneen Pennington is the Executive Director at NCDA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.