CHEYENNE - The more she told people about her concerns about a lack of support for quality career guidance in Wyoming, the more Candise Leininger heard the same thing - you need CDF.
Career Development Facilitator Training to be More Precise
CDF is a training developed by the National Career Development Association (NCDA). It trains counselors and career advisors who assist students in making informed academic and career decisions. The WDE began offering a course in CDF this spring and will continue to do so through September 27.
The course itself is an eight-week online course, which is listed as 120-clock hours of learning with assignments and a built-in collaboration component. Three trainers from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services offer the training lessons and facilitation. There are education credits available through the Professional Teaching Standards Board, the University of Wyoming as well as mental health licensing boards. A final project is designed to relate directly to the participant's work place, such as how a career center could be developed in the student's own school or facility.
Leininger's first look at CDF came during the Global National Career Development Conference in Atlanta last year. The WDE's Career and Technical Education Consultant said she had met with guidance staff in both middle and high schools and a common concern kept popping up -- a lack of time and training for counselors and career advisors to do what they felt was adequate career counseling.
"They didn't feel credentialed in that area. As a masters level counselor you typically get one class in career development," Leininger said. "They also weren't given time in their schedule, so it was passed off to career advisors if the school was fortunate to have one on staff. If there was no career advisor, it would fall between the cracks and get overlooked.
"Then I started meeting with the career advisors and they ranged from folks with high school educations -- sometimes administrative assistants who were promoted, to history teachers who were told your job is no longer teaching, you are now a career counselor. These people had no professional associations to fall back on and no formal training in career development. I had a broad audience that needed to get more competent in career development."
Leininger said the WDE began bringing the focus to career guidance starting last year by offering a career guidance workshop and a career readiness seminar. This Career Guidance Initiative helped the department gauge how much interest there was in future training and credentialing in the area of career development. Over 100 people attended and voiced their interest. Repeatedly, the feedback was training in the area of career readiness and guidance was "long overdue."
"Every time I brought up the initiative when I was in Atlanta, people at the conference would say 'oh, you need CDF,'" Leininger said. "I didn't know what it stood for, so I found my holy grail and realized this was a training that would get everyone on the same page, be certified, have a national association to relate to and feel supported."
Just as valuable was the fact that Leininger also found a CDF trainer at the Atlanta conference who was set to train three instructors from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Dr. Ann Reyes was one of the three members of the Department of Workforce Services who were taking part in an effort to train Workforce Center staff to be career development facilitators.
The final section of Career Facilitator Training offered by the Wyoming Department of Education begins August 5, and is an eight-week online course. To enroll, or for more information, contact Guy Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org
"That's what we do," Reyes said about career development facilitation. "When you look at the content of what the curriculum means for the career development facilitators, it addresses the range of activities that our staff on the front lines are involved with every single day. Whereas the educators in our class might be looking at it from the standpoint of early exploration of careers, what is expected, and how we go about doing it.
"The most financially prudent way for us to train our staff is to become trainers ourselves and provide the service to our department and other departments as well," Reyes said.
Reyes, along with DWS colleagues Jennifer Wilch and Jeannette Pickenpaugh, worked through the effort of getting the DWS staff certified and took those lessons into the WDE's training. Reyes said she believes the course is practical and challenging, but also one that leaves the participants with actual skills. The course offers career development theory as well as teaching its participants how to do a real labor market search and organize the search in a step-by-step manner.
"One of the things I think is really important is how people are going to be asked to interview, how they are going to access jobs. This course is very heavily weighted on use in technology. We give them a lot of skills in that way," Reyes said.
The WDE opened the program to faculty from every high school, middle school, community college, University and Court-Ordered Placement facility in the state. By the time its third session ends on September 27, the partnership between the WDE and DWS will have certified over 100 Wyoming faculty and staff as career development facilitators.
Sally Goodnight was one of those faculty members. She said she began her own career facilitation program through the American School Counseling Association at Wheatland Middle School recently. She took part in the first CDF course offering and thought it had a strong real world application.
"I was delighted to receive the offer to participate in the class," Goodnight said. "The CDF class was extremely beneficial with career development content. This course will help my students in two ways; I have an abundance of new resources to share with students and I have new and creative ideas to present the materials."
Leininger is quick to praise the CDF program, pointing out that some states, such as South Carolina make it mandatory for all schools in the state. She adds that with proper career guidance at an early age students feel like school is more relevant and schools can see higher graduation rates. She said that the American School Counselor Association encourages more career development for students earlier in school instead of waiting until high school.
"Now that we have a lot of college graduates without jobs living in their parents' basement, it's a perfect time to shine a light on this subject and say, this might help," Leininger said. "Students need to understand that it's not enough get a bachelors degree in women's studies because it sounds real cool -- it needs to relate to a full-time job. They need to have more than a piece of paper that says this should get me a job somewhere. They need to connect it to the real world of work."