This is an expert paper commissioned jointly by the EC and OECD for the international review of policies for career guidance initiated by the OECD in 2001. The author examines the demand for career guidance and the nature of supply and incentives to enhance both the quantity and the quality of supply of career guidance. Market-making examines how markets function. The ways they are likely to fail in the provision of certain types of career guidance leads to the identification of a series of market failures – ways in which laissez-faire policies are likely to lead to inadequate or inaccurate career guidance, or to inequities in access, or to an absence of markets where potential demanders and suppliers can come to some agreement. Different countries have developed policies to counteract such failures.
In the end, career guidance may be perceived as an adjunct to career-oriented forms of education and training, including professional forms of higher education, and more broadly to policies intended to improve the flexibility and efficiency of labor markets. This is just as true for emerging countries, or countries just moving to market-oriented labor markets and to educational institutions operating in markets such as China.