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Professional practice

Professional practice

 In the twenty-first century, diverse arrangements for the delivery of professional services have resulted in new forms of dialogue on what constitutes a 'professional' and who is best placed or qualified to deliver 'professional services'. Changes in government policies have also impacted significantly on professional practice, training opportunities, job roles and occupational identities. Professional associations argue that professional identity in today's society is grounded primarily in knowledge, skills and processes.

The essence of 'professionalism' lies in the confidence and trust that 'a client' must be able to place in someone with specialised knowledge and/or skills. Therefore, having the capacity to reflect on action is a defining characteristic of engaging in professional practice. Donald Schon (1983) argued that 'technical rationality' i.e. equipping students with knowledge in training situations so they could simply discharge this knowledge when they entered the world of practice is fundamentally a flawed concept. The development of 'reflecting in action' (while doing something) and 'reflecting on action' (after you have done it) has, in recent years, become embedded in many professional disciplines. The role of mentor, mentee or supervisor as an 'external agent' for personal growth and development is also an important feature to help ensure that reflection does not get trapped in self indulgence or self justification.

A key finding from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cross-country review of guidance was that training has a dominant effect in establishing a professional identity (McCarthy, 2001). Clearly, upward mobility in a professional career involves the commitment and reputation for greater skill.

The resources in this section include toolkits, research papers and useful websites which provide guidance and support materials. Together they highlight a plethora of issues to support those with a strong interest in careers-related professional practice.

The Careers, work experience & employment online resource provides useful links to documents, networks and other practical resources and is organised under the following six key policy areas:

Each of these resource areas is being developed in association with a variety of organisations involved in the policy development and delivery of careers education, information, advice and guidance.

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