Strategies for career education in New Zealand schools to foster 21st century career development

Author: Amanda Smidt

Strategies for career education in New Zealand schools to foster 21st century career development

Amanda Smidt
23 July 2018

Smidt, A.J. (2018). Strategies for career education in New Zealand schools to foster 21st century career development. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic) [943 KB]

Executive Summary

For many years, there have been calls for change in our education system to reflect the reality of change in the world of work. But more recently, the rate of technology driven change has become exponential, and with the impending arrival of AI systems and other forms of automation that are projected to increasingly replace or profoundly and continually change most human working roles, we face significant and abrupt disruption to how we live, learn and work, and calls for an effective response from our education system.

This research paper proposes a paradigm shift in the provision of career education in New Zealand schools to reflect and respond to the challenges of change disruption, and in doing so, contributes to the current education reform debate in New Zealand.

Informed by literature, the paper draws attention to the skills and competencies needed to function effectively in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, and investigates the career development and pedagogical strategies required to nurture, facilitate and enable the development of these capabilities in our young people.

This work places the student and their needs at the heart of the issue. Learning experiences shape student identity, and their ideas of who and what they might become, and thus, for students to become the ‘confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners’ envisioned by our New Zealand Curriculum, our schools approach to careers, teaching and learning must acknowledge and be responsive to the uniqueness of each of its students. Influenced by wider research on career development and learning, the paper discusses and justifies a constructivist approach. 

This paper illustrates some ways that career practitioners, teachers and curricula might nurture and facilitate an environment where the student, and the development of their ideas and hopes of possible selves, is central to learning facilitation. An environment where students are aware of who they are within their system of influence, understand the world of work and how they might navigate it, are self-directed, adaptable and resilient, are proactive and have a desire for, and an understanding of the need for, life-long learning. One where schools, and in particular career practitioners and teachers, are, and feel, well supported within the curriculum to offer the student the time, space and resources to develop a coherent notion of possible-self.

In conclusion three main themes are proposed as strategies for a way forward for career education in New Zealand schools to foster 21st century career development. These are:

  • a national vision for career development which includes career as central to the national curriculum, career practitioners in influential roles within the Ministry, a national career development association with national professional standards and professional recognition, and a strengthening of the Career Development Benchmarks
  • the career practitioner as career-champion who drives the culture of career development within schools
  • promoting a whole-of-school career culture where career is ‘part of’, rather than ‘in-addition-to’ the students’ learning

Key words: Career Education; Career Development; 21st century career development.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International