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  • Writer's pictureSteven Tobin

Technology is no panacea to career development

Technology is undoubtedly here to stay

Advancements in technology and online tools are transforming how many social services are delivered, including career information and guidance. The onset of the pandemic accelerated technological adoption in these, and other, areas, catapulting many organizations into new ways of working. This inevitably, created challenges in near real-time, but also ample opportunities to learn and gain lessons on the role of technology in skills development – an issue that will continue to transform the world of work.

Digital tools bring promise to service delivery within the skills ecosystem

Emerging evidence suggests that there is considerable promise in the role that digital tools and virtual career services can play in improving overall access to training and career development. Unsurprisingly, these improvements are particularly concentrated among individuals facing geographic barriers or other constraints such as family care or other work responsibilities. There is also some early indication that digital delivery can facilitate better learning outcomes by enabling self-directed learning.

There are risks to exacerbating the digital divide

However, there are risks that such tools and online delivery models further exacerbate inequalities, if they are pursued at the expense of other interventions that specifically target the needs of the most vulnerable and in need of support, e.g. those without access to the internet or related devices, lacking digital literacy or facing difficult circumstances at home. In addition, career and training-related decisions are complex and entail a variety of considerations and trade-offs – a constellation of interrelated issues not easily addressed solely by a digital tool or the provision of virtual career services, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations.

People still matter

Digital tools and online career services thus have both promise and limitations. Our early learning indicates that in-person support continues to offer significant value in the overall delivery of career and training guidance to individuals. In this regard, it will be important to continue to monitor the available evidence on the role of digital tools and virtual modes of service delivery as a complement versus a substitute to in-person services.

For more information on the role of digital tools, see the Future Skills Centre’s Project Insights Digital Tools in the Skills Ecosystem

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