This article was authored by Bettina Schaller, SVP Head of Public Affairs at The Adecco Group and Murielle Antille, SVP, Head of Government and Industry Affairs at Lee Hecht Harrison.


There is no denying it anymore: our skillset is at risk of becoming obsolete due to the rapid technological and economic evolution. Latest studies suggest that 30% of skills are becoming outdated after 4 years. Both the green and the digital transitions are particularly accelerating the demand for new skills.


In this context of skills becoming rapidly outdated and the demand for new ones increasing, The Adecco Group stresses the importance and the urgency to engage in the re- and upskilling of the workforce. And in order to ensure a successful (skills) transformation at the necessary speed, we are convinced that career guidance will hold a pivotal role in providing visibility and orientation to workers as they transition.


As per today, the current landscape of career orientation support is not well documented. The OECD report released in January 2021 on “Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work” sheds some light on how this service is organised and how to improve it.



Did you know…?


While an appropriate career guidance is the key to steer the transformation toward a more resilient, digital and sustainable workforce, the OECD report shows that the service still lacks visibility and credibility.


57% of the interviewed individuals stated that they did not feel the need to use career guidance services, and 20% said that they weren’t aware it existed. For adults who do receive career guidance, about the same proportion revert to public employment services (24%) and private providers (22%). Others turn to education and training institutions (12%), dedicated public career guidance agencies (13%) or trade unions or associations (6%) to orient themselves.


Yet, not all providers yield the same results. The report underlines that the effectiveness of career guidance services mainly depends on two factors:


  • Career advisors must have access to and actively make use of ‘high labour market information’. A ‘high labour market information’ is an objective, up to date and granular understanding of the labour market and its latest trends.


  • Guidance services must be tailored and adapted to an adult’s needs. This can be done by assessing the individual’s unique set of skills or the elaboration of a personalised career development roadmap. Importantly, the career advisor must be trained and qualified to deliver those high-end services.


Private providers of career guidance are found to yield one of the most satisfactory results compared to the other providers. This is not solely due to their premium access to ‘high labour market information’ but also due to their ability to offer personalized and tailored services to adults. However, the report also highlights that private services might be out of reach (as too costly) for certain groups, unless subsidised.


According to a Gartner research, only 20% of employees have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. In addition, a recent McKinsey survey reveals that 87% of executives say their organizations are already experiencing skill gaps or expect to face them within a few years. Hence, we can conclude that it is beneficial for workers to be introduced to career guidance services at an early stage. This would enable them to assess their skillsets, to evaluate which skill is becoming obsolete and to engage in the adequate reskilling process. This is coherent with the results of a recent LHH study (see box). Further, a 2020 research by LHH highlighted that 80% of supported job seekers were looking for a similar job, suggesting that the ideal timing for reskilling is earlier than at time of job loss. Outcomes from the Singapore Skills for Future program point towards the same direction: Josephine Teo mentioned that individuals are more inclined to invest in skills once they can link it to immediate benefits in their jobs (WEF 2021).


Considering that career guidance services are the enabling link between the demand for talent and the workforce and that they support the individual’s employability journey, efforts and investments on skilling are wasted without a clear purpose and connection with individual aspirations. Thus, we call for an increased awareness, accessibility and effectiveness of career guidance services.


More specifically, to increase the awareness on career guidance services, information campaigns and incentives should be put in place both online and in-person. Additionally, to increase the accessibility to career guidance, we believe that individual vouchers for career guidance should be implemented. The Belgian region of Flanders as well as Switzerland have recently launched the free of charge provision of career guidance for workers over 40 years, not at least upon the recognition that the mid-career workers at most at risk of losing employability.



Partnering up for all the right reasons


There are many reasons for public employment services and private career services providers to work in closer collaboration:


  • Future-orientation: Foster exchange knowledge on labour market trends and demands.
  • Quality and Reach: Ensure better capacity and capability building
  • Maintain employment: Ensure the workers are supported prior to a job loss.
  • Encompass the whole spectrum of education possibilities. When advising workers, career counsellors should be aware of and suggest the whole variety of re- and upskilling possibilities. These include, among many other programs, short-term training, micro-credentials, work-based learning and formal degree.


Today more than ever, re- and upskilling must be accompanied by appropriate guidance both to enable and speed up the transition of workers as labour markets shift and to mitigate the effects of changing economies. The Adecco Group is committed to connect the workers of today to the future of work, as we strive today and tomorrow to make the future work for everyone.