Career-Café - The Manifesto!

The career-learning network

The network links people who are developing and using new and useful ideas-for-action to help people develop their management of career.

Until recently, this work was known by the 'double-barrelled' term careers education and guidance; but, in 1991 Bill Law coined the term careers work to refer to the help offered, and career learning to refer its outcomes. 'Careers work' is intended to replace the older concept, with ideas which are more diverse, generic and inclusive. It refers to an increasingly diverse range of informational, face-to-face, recording, curriculum and community-linked activities. Developing Connexions programmes will require the greater depth, breadth and dynamics that this range of activity can enable.

Furthermore, this range is also necessary to enable the management of roles other than 'worker'. The network will, then, prove useful to people seeking useful ideas for helping people in their 'partner', 'parenting', 'householder', 'consumer', 'voluntary' and 'citizen' roles. All are, in people's real lives, interdependent. Indeed - in an important underlying sense - all are aspects of a person's 'career'. In our schools and colleges all will increasingly come into focus in Education for Citizenship programmes.

Careers-work thinking and practice, therefore, needs constantly to be reviewed and repositioned, to keep it in line with contemporary conditions and the changing needs of its users. Government help - through its publications and programmes in careers work, Connexions and citizenship - is useful. But these ideas and regimes cannot provide sufficient bases for action; because they cannot reach to the depth and detail of understanding, required by able and thinking professionals, engaged in developing specific local action. Like so much of importance in our lives, this work cannot be scripted from the centre.

The network therefore offers a more flexible and responsive way to develop useful ideas for action, and to support their use. Participants in the network have - so far - been mainly providers of helping services and their managers and consultants.

The network was instigated by Bill Law, the author of several open-learning packs for careers workers. Notable among these is the DfES's influential multi-module Careers Work. Other material developed by Bill includes How to Coordinate Careers Education with Curriculum and New Thinking for Connexions and Citizenship. This material has been published on behalf of the network .

But the plan now is continuously to introduce more of this kind of material into the network - free of any charge. Information and copies of free material have - until now - been distributed by e-mail and post.


The career-learning café

The Internet provides an accessible and flexible means of exchanging and developing good ideas, and of turning them into appropriate and effective practice. In particular it opens up possibilities for a 'conversations' between the people who are professionally engaged and other stakeholders - notably the clients and students who careers workers seek to help. There are, of course, other stakeholders - in government, academia and the business world. It is important that the exchange is maintained by all these 'constituencies'. The 'cafe' concept was developed by Bill in order to realise this need for an on going and lively exchange, which takes account of all valid points of view.

An early version of the café - called ‘The Global Careers Work Café’ - was set up in 2001. It was introduced to a site first developed for an on-line international academic careers journal. However, it has not been possible to agree a partnership with the owners of the site . The developing concept - now called 'The Career-Learning Café' - has, therefore, been transferred to this new web address.

Although the café welcomes all valid points of view, it needs a clear focus. That focus is on the professional helper - whether teacher or adviser. But - in the café - the helper is addressed in relationship with his or her clients or students. They are respectively referred to as career workers and career makers. There is - as the term 'careers work' expresses - a range of activities at that 'point-of-delivery'. Those activities are at the heart of café conversation. Academic, professional, policy and business points of view are there to help develop the usefulness and effectiveness of that central exchange.

In developing this focus the network's open-learning and support material will be progressively introduced to the café. Included in this will be material listed as 'game for career'. This is an interactive learning process, in which careers workers and career makers can use - together, individually or in groups.

Key features of all the cafe's 'point-of-delivery' material are that they will be:

1. interactive - including suitability for use in individual, large- and small-group activity;
2. credible – based on informed ideas and understanding of ongoing developments;
3. supported - with ideas and, where useful, with commissioned consultancy concerning how the material is best used.

The manifesto

The Career-Learning Café develops ideas for careers-work action which are relevant to contemporary conditions, are well founded in theory and ideology, are independent of dominant business, professional and political pressures, and are sound enough to attract the interested attention of the most able careers workers in our schools, colleges and Connexions companies.


The Global Careers-Work Café and The Career-Learning Café are the intellectual property of Dr Bill Law.

© Dr Bill Law, 2002