Security lies in learning new skills

The South African Qualifications Authority has invited Professor Tony Watts to address heads of industry on the importance of career guidance.

During his national tour in October Watts is expected to discuss lifelong learning and how this significantly determines the nature and quality of an individual’s life.

He will talk about why career development matters for public policy and the relationship of career development to lifelong learning.

His visit comes against a backdrop of growing concern that despite the billions spent on education and training, research into how and why people make the education choices they do is sorely lacking.

Insights from experts such as Watts are becoming increasingly valuable because of far-reaching changes in the concept of “career”.

Traditionally “career” meant an upward progression in an ordered hierarchy in an organisation or profession. The notion was that people “chose” a career, which then unfolded in an orderly way. It was an elitist concept: some had a career, many had only a job.

For some time now this traditional concept has been fragmenting. The pace of change, which is driven by technology and globalisation, means that organisations are constantly exposed to adjustments. They are therefore less willing to make long-term commitments to individuals. Where they do, it is in exchange for flexibility about the roles and tasks individuals will perform.

Increasingly security lies not in employment but in employability. Individuals who want to maintain their employability have to be willing to learn new skills on a regular basis.

So careers are now increasingly seen not as being “chosen” but as being constructed, through the series of choices about learning and work that people make throughout their lives.

Career development in this sense need not be confined to the few. It can and must be made accessible to all.

Who is Watts?
Tony Watts is a visiting professor of career development at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom.

He is a founding fellow and a past director of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling (NICEC), a subsidiary of the Career Development Organisation (Crac).

Crac is an independent organisation dedicated to supporting career development.

His work covers theory, policy and practice in all sectors of career education and guidance.

For more information email Teresa Settas on

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