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Career development connects with the goals of youth development and leadership programs by building youth’s competencies for the future. The career development process involves mastering a combination of self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management skills. Work-based learning and other hands-on activities and experiences enable youth to develop and practice these skills. Incorporating career development activities into youth development and leadership programs ensures that youth acquire competencies they need not only to enter and succeed in employment but also to make informed decisions about career pathways, plan how to achieve their career goals, and manage their chosen career throughout life. To make the connection clear, let’s examine the definitions of career development and youth development and leadership, and a few youth development and leadership frameworks. Youth development is a process that prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences that help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent.

Engaging youth in positive after school programming is a vital part of youth development. Youth work practitioners have direct contact with youth. Giving young people the best opportunities to thrive and learn means a need for continuing professional development for youth workers. We offer free public symposium and learning events that bring together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to discuss issues in the field of youth development. The goal is to bridge the latest research with implications for youth work practice, programs, policy and public education.

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