Reflections on the New Year - Intentions Enable CDAs to Establish Their Professional Identities

  -Yoshio Ohara, Representative President of Japan Career Development Association (JCDA)

As we have walked into the year 2023, or the year of Reiwa 5 in the Japanese calendar, I wish to express my heartfelt congratulations to all of you on the beginning of the new year. We are truly grateful for the enthusiastic support and cooperation generously extended by the members of Japan Career Development Association (JCDA) during the last three years despite being heavily impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic throughout. We look forward to your continued support in this year as well.

After assuming the post of Representative President of JCDA, I have always called on our members to move “from the Inside to the Outside   ” as the medium- to long-term slogan of our organization. I came up with this slogan partly because I strongly felt it necessary to publicize the significance of career counseling profession to the outside world and have been concerned that, if we didn’t publicize the significance of career counselors, the needs for career counselors would never expand, no matter how hard we work on improving our professional skills and expertise. Despite this original concern of mine, it seems that career counselors have increasingly been recognized, albeit gradually, across the country. One of the developments demonstrating the increasing social recognition of career counselors is the move by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare towards the enactment of a law to strengthen the foundation for the Self-Career Dock System, which is the system we proposed for encouraging people to receive regular career checkups. Also, we can say that the continued increase in the number of people interested in career counseling field demonstrated by the facts that JCDA has now grown into an organization with more than 20,000 members and the number of nationally-certified Career Consultants has reached 6,4000 also testify to the expanding social recognition of career counselors. Despite these achievements, we still have a lot to accomplish on various fronts and are thus determined to continue our efforts in many more years to come.

Before we embark on the new year in full gear, I wish to reflect on what we should do by going back to square one. Imagine that the time has finally come when the existence and social significance of us, career counselors, become fully recognized across the country. Then, what should we do after that?

Needless to say, we will have to keep practicing career counseling. But the importance thing here is what we should aim to accomplish through practicing career counseling. To me, this is the most vital question. If I ask career counselors what they aim to accomplish through practicing career counseling, some of them might say “to make clients satisfied and happy.” However, what if this satisfaction and happiness are something far removed from society? Specifically, what if the happiness pursued by your client is a very selfish one that doesn’t consider wider society and other people at all?

I regard career counselors as the ones playing the role of coordinator between individuals and wider society or communities. This role and our recognition of it are what sustain the significance of us as professionals or may be the significance of our profession per se.

Mark Savickas conceived, by considering how individuals are related to wider society and communities, of career counseling as an approach that is unlike any social therapy in that career counselors work to bridge individual clients and society through career counseling by always being connected to wider society and communities   .
In line with this concept, we look at our clients in the context of their relationships with other people and with wider society and help further develop their self-concept in this age of coexistence. The important thing for us is to provide activities to promote the clients’ self-concepts. Therefore, I believe that we CDA should look at the slogan of “From the Inside to the Outside” not only in terms of what should be done to publicize the significance of CDAs as professionals but also in terms as the intentions to pursue in practicing career counseling. If we become more fully aware of what intentions we need to pursue through career counseling practice, I strongly believe that such intentions will enable us to establish our professional identities as CDAs more firmly.


Summary of the Developments in the Last Year

1.    Conducted the JCDA Online Career Counseling 2022 Event
We conducted the JCDA Online Career Counseling Event, which was first held in 2020 as part of the Special Events to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of JCDA, for the third time this year. This year was the last year of the three-year plan for this online career counseling event project. In 2021, we only held the event for one day but, in 2022, we conducted it for two days, specifically on November 23 and December 10. A total of 115 CDAs, who were selected through document screening and interviews, served as career counselors on this year’s event. We received applications from a total of some 500 prospective clients for career counseling places on the two dates. Most of the clients who actually received career counseling during the event said they were satisfied with the results.

The findings we gained and the lessons we learned from the online career counseling sessions we conducted in the JCDA Online Career Counseling Events we held for these consecutive three years were so huge and informative. They taught us so many thinks including knowhow on the career counseling management structure, useful training methods, various counseling topics and career counseling needs. We hope to utilize these findings and lessons in conducting initiatives and projects in the future. Let me take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to all of you who supported these three-year events in various roles.


2.Development of the Human Web
Many CDAs prefer to use the words, “ties” and “connections.” These include, for example, the ones among JCDA members, between individuals and wider society and communities, between us and stakeholders, and between us and people with specific needs. In order to establish these ties and connections, we created an online platform that enable people to have discussions and connect with each other. We named this online platform “Human Web.” This name may sound too general and unspecific to some people, but that was exactly our intention. By making it comprehensive and unspecific, we wanted to invite many people to participate for in this platform to develop ties and connections of wide-ranging natures and with various purposes.

The noted examples of the activities we conducted on this Human Web include the Workshop on Stories and the Free Open Seminar by JCDA Directors. In the last year alone, over 1,000 people in total have participated in the learning and discussion opportunities we provided online. Thanks to the convenience of online, people not only from Tokyo and its neighboring areas but also across the country were able to utilize the opportunities as useful forums for discussion. Especially, in the Workshop on Stories, we provided an opportunity to let several junior CDAs discuss their career concerns with senior CDAs who could serve as their role models. The actual concerns expressed by the junior CDAs included “there is no opportunity to work as a career counselor” and “I haven’t been able to find a path to become a career practitioner.” Having the junior CDAs talk about their concerns that are shared by so many members prompted some heated discussions on how they should act to improve their situations. I was also surprised to see many people joining these discussion opportunities again and again even though virtually the same topics were talked about in them. Seeing them made us realize how eager CDAs are to have opportunities to discuss and share their thoughts and concerns.
In addition, we established the JCDA Online Library that can be used by our members for free as a place to learn professional skills and knowledge. In the Library, we started providing special lectures delivered by instructors in charge of the lecture series on the JCDA Journal as its main content and have gotten over 4,000 views so far.


Basic Courses of Action for This Fiscal Year

1.    Starting the Full-scale Implementation of Our Career Dock System
On October 30 of the last year, we held the online event, “Career Dock System will be Operated and Moved Forward by CDAs: Moving Our Project from Small Stories to Large Story.”  In this event, we declared our intention to commercialize our Career Dock System concept.
Following this declaration, we are gearing up to finally operationalize JCDA’s stated mission of “Establishing Career Counseling Function as an Indispensable Part of Social Infrastructure. We hope to provide new forums and places that will enable people working and living in this age and society of coexistence to lead better lives.
In the past, career counseling had been conceived as a place/opportunity where a client discusses his/her career concerns with a counselor. This concept is based on the framework or idea that regards the client’s career concerns as “problems to be solved.”
On the other hand, our Career Dock concept embodies an attempt to break away from how career counseling had been practiced and conceived in the past. Specifically, with the Career Dock concept, we are striving to move the focus of career counseling from “problem-solving” to “growth promotion.” By developing this concept into a business, we will strive to promote career counseling and create new places/opportunities for our members to work as career counselors. Through many efforts towards this goal, we are determined to create a new market for career counseling services.


2.    Conferment of Jinsei Sugoroku Kin-no-Ito Award
On February 26 this year, we will hold the Jinsei Sugoroku Kin-no-Ito (Life Simulation Game “Golden Thread”) Award Conferment Ceremony. We have already received entries from many people to the Award. The purpose of this ceremonial event is to promote career counseling practices and the public recognition of the need for career development across the country as an effort to enhance activities for realizing our medium- to long-term slogan of “From the Inside to the Outside” by allowing the general public (i.e., non-JCDA members) to experience the Kin-no-Ito game. Through this event, we also aim to enhance the effective of this tool by showing our members at firsthand how and with whom to use the Kin-no-Ito Game.
We will continue to hold this Award Conferment Ceremony annually for many more years to come. We wish to invite all of you to participate in the ceremony this year to utilize what you learned from the event in your career counseling practices. We look forward to receiving more and more entries from you for the Award!


3.    Inauguration of the CDA Student Certification 
As you can see on this Journal (on page 25 of this issue), we will inaugurate another certification of ours: the CDA Student Certification.
In the past, students in the school-to-work transition were required to develop abilities and attitudes that enable them to adapt to the work environment before starting their work lives. However, in recent years, we have been increasingly faced with new developments spawned by ever-changing social environments of today that are expanding our career choice options and encouraging people across the world to redefine their roles in society (e.g., SDGs). In view of these developments, we came to believe that today’s society needs a new career development curriculum for students that is completely different from the existing career education curriculums focused on preparing students for employment. The new curriculum we have envisioned focuses on training students to develop into workers who can act autonomously to become their ideal selves. We decided to inaugurate a new certification to realize this ideal of ours.
This is how we made decision to inaugurate the CDA Student Certification for university/college students to certify their completion of JCDA’s curriculum for the certification. We are hoping that this new certification will help revitalize the activities of our organization and expand the places/opportunities for CDAs to work and thrive as career professionals.