Connecting HR to career development

Upcoming Cannexus conference looks at timely topics such as the future of work and redeploying talent

Connecting HR to career development

HR professionals may not always appreciate their connection to the field of career development, but it’s an important one, according to Sharon Ferriss, senior director of marketing and communications at CERIC, a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians.

For example, there’s the area of recruitment and retention.

“If employers are able to address career management within their organization, that's a strategy to show prospective employees, and current employees, that there's a future within the organization; the individual wants to be able to grow and develop and contribute more, and by taking a career management approach, the employer can support that both through the career management structures that HR might put in place, and then through the support of managers who are the ones having career conversations with their staff,” she says.

Often, it’s a three-way partnership, where career management within an organization is the joint responsibility of the employee, the organization – which HR often represents – and the individual manager, says Ferriss.

“Certainly, if employees see that employers are investing in their skill development, and supporting them to reach their career goals, that's going to help with engagement, and with the returns that the organization gets from the employee.”

Sometimes when you say career management, people equate that with training or professional development, she says.

“While those can be components of career management, they're not synonymous. There are lots of other ways to support employees in their career development, whether that's coaching and mentoring or providing stretch assignment opportunities.”

And while career management can be connected with performance management, there are differences, says Ferriss.

“Career management is understanding: What are the skills and interests and values of the individual? And how does that align with what the organization wants to achieve? And how can the employee be supported in such a way that they'll be able to reach their goals and contribute to helping the organization achieve its goals?”

The future of work
Another big area where the interests of career counsellors and HR professionals intersect? The future of work, a timely topic that will be covered by former RBC Chief Human Resources Office Zabeen Hirji, now executive advisor, future of work at Deloitte, as a keynote speaker at the upcoming Cannexus21 virtual conference.

“You have career counsellors that are preparing students or clients who are in career transition to have the skills and mindsets to navigate the future of work,” says Ferriss.

“And then you have HR professionals who are trying to prepare their organizations with the right talent to be able to capitalize on these trends that are coming. So it's where that supply and the demand meet, and there's an important conversation to be had here around workforce planning.”

Cannexus is Canada's largest career development conference, and by going virtual in 2021, it’s truly pan-Canadian, along with having more of an international component, bringing together people with an interest in career and workforce issues from different sectors.

Among the over 150 sessions exploring the theme of “Career Development for Public Good,” highlights include:

  • “Building Back Better: How Work Needs to Change for Good After COVID” with Jim Stanford
  • “Fostering Positive Indigenous Community Engagement with Purpose” with Trina Maher
  • “Thriving with Mental & Emotional Well-being” with Shellie Deloyer
  •  “Inclusive Supported Employment Practices for LGBTQ2S+” with Tara Buchanan

Another session that should also interest HR is “Redeploying Talent: Industry-Responsive Upskilling During COVID” with AJ Tibando, executive director at Palette, a not-for-profit dedicated to helping workers adapt to automation and build successful careers in the digital economy.

As jobs are lost in certain sectors of the economy, it’s about looking at what kinds of programs can be put in place to rapidly upskill those individuals to meet the needs of other sectors where demand is increasing, says Ferriss, particularly with a focus on nontraditional or hidden talent pools.

“That could be persons with disabilities, for example, or newcomer communities, where you have fantastic talent that may be under the radar. And so how are career professionals connecting candidates to employers to help build inclusive workplaces? Obviously, that's a very timely conversation right now.”

Cannexus21 will be held on Jan. 25 and 27, and Feb. 1 and 3, 2021. For more information, visit The early bird rate is available until Nov. 12.

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