This well-intentioned joint ILO ETF publication acknowledges the socio-economic context of Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), particularly infrastructure, geography, demographics, migration and emigration, attitudes and values, gender and age expectations, and participation in and the role of the informal economy. It identifies key elements or reference points for the development of career
development support systems, and as outcomes of national actions: coordination, funding, quality, access, and technology, and addressed from the perspectives of typical challenges and potential responses. It highlights the need for collecting reliable labour market information, a huge challenge in LMIC countries with many people and families engaged in micro-enterprises, self-employment, and in the informal economy. Such reliable data is necessary for government investment and planning for education and vocational training programmes to meet existing and emerging needs of the economy, and for family investment in the futures of their children.
It outlines a process for national systems development and review for low to middle income countries (LMIC), based mainly on the experiences of European Union countries. This process is framed in an academic theory of national change which underestimates the impact that individuals (e.g. Putin, Trump, Bolsonaro), and events e.g. Russian country invasion ( Ukraine), the overthrow of civil government (e.g. Myanmar, Sudan), or the rewriting of national history (e.g. China) can have on people’s daily lives and the provision of public services in any country.
The first question for governments in LMIC countries is whether government should intervene or not in providing career guidance to citizens, and what are the effects of market failure if it does not intervene, and what does market failure look like. This is not referenced in the text nor is any clear definition or discussion of ‘system’.
Systems operate according to policies. The publication does not propose how to map existing relevant policies and related initiatives. Practitioners are proposed as the single most important key actor (they may not exist in many LMIC countries) but the general public are not referenced as a key stakeholder which they patently are as the public service is intended for them. Career and occupational information are barely referenced in the publication but they are crucial in LMIC countries.
A key starting point in any public service development for career guidance in LMIC countries is the behaviour of the general public in seeking information, help and advice – their supports, networks, and media usage. In the absence of such knowledge, systems development and review results are severely limited.
Finally, there is no discussion of existing benchmarks and criteria for policy and systems review. That would have been really helpful to LMIC countries in deciding which review criteria are most relevant to them.