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International case studies

How are Careers Services delivered internationally?

Through the 'Mapping Scotland’s Career Services' commission, six international case studies have been collated, showcasing diversity and a range of different systems that Scotland could adapt elements of best practice from.

Each case study presents a brief overview of an international location which publicly funds career services, with the intent of using career services to meet a range of diverse policy aims. In most of the chosen locations, this results in more than one government department having an interest in the careers system.  

The locations highlighted all utilise a range of delivery approaches which are designed to make use of existing institutions which citizens are already engaged with (notably the education system and the public employment system). They are also all interested in professionalising careers services as part of a strategy to enhance quality and increase the flow of information between different element of the career system.

Approaches ​

The issues that have prompted Scotland to undertake its career review are not unique. Because of the range of policy aims, funding mechanism and delivery approaches many countries, including those highlighted here, report there are challenges in ensuring the coherence of career development services. These are issues that everyone is dealing with.​

Many countries actively respond to the challenges in coherency by investing in a range of mechanisms to support co-ordination and co-operation between the different elements of their system.

Successfully built career guidance systems feature a range of elements of underpinning infrastructure.​ These include the provision of national databases of labour and learning information and national websites and information services.​

These case studies were gathered through a key document and literature review, along with identifying and surveying contacts from each location. 


Aligning to their National Strategy for Lifelong Learning and a National Guidance Strategy National Lifelong Guidance, career services are positioned to unlock potential and increase national capacity through the development and alignment of skills.

A key strength of the Austrian system is the strategic focus and good integration of employers, education and employment services.​​

Austria also guarantees near universal access to career services, with Career Education in class, Career Counselling, and experiential learning with employers and employees. All school delivery undertaken by teachers.​

This strong vocational education system, creates deep roots and strong tri-partite engagement between employers, labour and government/education system through the dual system.


Aligning to their National Strategy for Lifelong Learning and a National Guidance Strategy National Lifelong Guidance, career services are positioned to unlock potential and increase national capacity through the development and alignment of skills.

Estonia offers near-universal access to all young people supplemented by an additional needs-based offer for targeted customers facing disadvantage.

With a National Framework for collaboration, Estonia's careers system is well integrated with the educational curriculum. One of the five key strands of the framework, is the Skills and Labour Market policy, which is key to building capacity and skills within the country.

The country also displays education and youth board policy-level co-ordination and a national forum for careers guidance that supports local co-ordination. 

Career education is integrated in curricula at ​various education levels and is a key theme within the education system. Within schools this is delivered through a specified career education subject within the curriculum and experiential activity with employers. Careers management skills taught include ​entrepreneurship and other future focused skills. ​

Careers professionals are trained ‘on-the-job’ and then accredited through an occupational standard.​


Finnish citizens universal entitlement to Career Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) is identified in national legislation, with the country providing formalised career education in schools, a permanent stakeholder body nationally and regionally, and one stop guidance centres.

Finland's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has a focus on developing national capability, and the ministries responsible for careers services co-chair a National Lifelong Guidance Working Group.

In Finland, students aged 13-16 are required to complete 76 hours of compulsory career education, with Career Management Skills explicitly included as part of the transversal learning outcomes in the national core curricula. All subjects must include content linked to CMS and work.

Universal entitlement to CIAG is identified in national legislation and outside of education services, this is largely delivered by their public employment service.



Within Canada, there is no single purpose or set of career services. They are defined by province and territory, with Newfoundland and Labrador's system offering good co-operation and collaboration via Community Employment Collaboration.

Schools have a responsibility to delivery career development learning to all pupils. Outside of school it’s needs based. ​Higher Education students' services are linked to co-ops (formal work placements integrated into higher education courses).

A Community of Practice exists for practitioners in the space to share resources and knowledge.​

New Zealand

Following a period of reform, significant changes have been implemented to New Zealand's qualifications landscape. There is a focus within the country on building professional capacity to deliver careers services.

Although there is no national strategy, the Child and Youth Wellbeing strategy notes career services within its aims. Also, there is an over-arching framework for careers provision where benchmarks set out a self-assessment framework for careers provision in the country’s schools and tertiary education providers.​

Careers Education in schools has recently moved back to the responsibility of schools with the National Agency role eroded.​ The tertiary education commission is responsible for all delivery outside of secondary schools​ and within the careers system there is a defined ratio of careers professionals to learners.


Singapore's 'Human Capital Strategy' features careers services, which are are at the heart of their economic strategy. This provides structure for overseeing policy co-ordination and alignment and an underpinning philosophy that careers services can increase national capacity.

Universal access to career development is provided through seven public careers centres, online provision, and services in the education system, with all education settings featuring dedicated careers centres. 

Workforce Singapore are responsible for the co-ordination of careers services nationally and locally.​