Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as ¿building blocks¿ because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Educational counsellors advise current and prospective students on educational issues, career planning and personal development and co-ordinate the provision of counselling services to students, parents, teachers, faculty and staff. They are employed by school boards, universities and colleges, technical institutes, correctional facilities and government agencies.
- Occasionally unable to complete job tasks as planned because equipment is not working properly. For example, a college counsellor about to deliver a computer-assisted slide presentation to a large group of parents and students realizes that the equipment is not working. The counsellor tries to troubleshoot the equipment with the assistance of colleagues. When these troubleshooting efforts are unsuccessful, the counsellor delivers the presentation orally without audio-visual support. (2)
- May get low participation in group sessions. In these cases, counsellors often look for scheduling conflicts with other activities and events and, when they find them, reschedule their own sessions to encourage attendance. For example, a personal guidance counsellor may discover that a new weekly group session on stress management is conflicting with a students' soccer practice. The counsellor reschedules stress management sessions and attendance returns to normal. (2)
- Experience difficulties in getting students with strong emotional defence mechanisms to talk to them during individualized counselling sessions. They try different verbal and non-verbal techniques in order to build trust and establish safe and open environments in which these students will be comfortable and willing to talk. If counsellors are unsuccessful in getting students to open up, they may discuss these cases with other counsellors to gain their insights and see if they can suggest new approaches. They may also refer students to psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialists. For example, a counsellor may experience difficulties with some students dealing with personal problems such as failure to adjust to the deaths of friends and family members, substance abuse, generalized anxiety, depression, eating disorders, lack of self-esteem, suicidal tendencies and anger management. (3)
- May encounter difficulties in obtaining resources for students in need from social service and community networks beyond school systems. They use their experience and consult with co-workers and colleagues to identify key people within these networks. They may develop alternate strategies to answer students' needs. They may also advocate for better services on behalf of their clients when appropriate. (3)
- Select the academic, career planning and personal development topics for the group sessions they offer to students, parents, teachers, faculty and staff. They use professional knowledge to choose topics that will respond to the needs and interests of large numbers of participants. (2)
- Select corporations, educational institutions and community organizations with which to build working partnerships. They start by approaching the ones they feel will be the most beneficial for their student populations. They build other partnerships as needs arise. (2)
- Select the textbooks, professional publications, assessment instruments and software to purchase for their counselling services, academic institutions and school boards. For example, counsellors at the secondary and college levels may select career counselling software. They have to consider the initial purchase and ongoing costs, reliability of information, user-friendliness and privacy protection offered by each available option. (2)
- Decide to refer some students to psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialists when they need expert help. To make appropriate decisions, they have to assess the severity of the students' situations. For example, a counsellor may decide to refer a student who is exhibiting suicidal tendencies to a psychiatrist. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- Assess participants' satisfaction with group counselling, training and information sessions. At the end of group sessions, counsellors may facilitate feedback sessions. They may also design and distribute evaluation forms to be completed by participants. (2)
- Assess participants' understanding of topics covered during counselling, training and information sessions. For example, secondary school counsellors may assess students' understanding of topics covered in career preparation classes. They may choose or design appropriate assignments, tests and quizzes. They may administer, correct, mark and interpret them. (3)
- Judge the suitability of counselling approaches for specific students. They consider students' situations, difficulties, needs, goals and wishes. For example, a guidance counsellor may assess the suitability of administering a battery of tests to clarify a student's interests and abilities. A personal guidance counsellor may assess the suitability of offering group bereavement counselling sessions to students suffering from unexpected losses. (3)
- Evaluate students' development on a regular basis. They look at cumulative records, carry out testing and assessment activities and discuss students' development with teachers, parents, psychologists, social workers and speech-language therapists. (3)
- Assess students' mental health using a variety of approaches and techniques. For example, a secondary school guidance counsellor may analyse the symbols and spatial arrangement on students' art work to evaluate how they feel about themselves, where they are in their development, what conflicts they are experiencing and how they are dealing with them. (3)
- May lead teams which evaluate the effectiveness of educational and counselling strategies, projects and programs. They may also publish their results and recommendations in professional and research publications. For example, a counsellor may lead the evaluation of a program designed to address the educational needs of students with learning and psychosocial disabilities. The counsellor organizes a team of teachers, school administrators and other counsellors to determine evaluation criteria and design protocols to collect and analyze data on these criteria. The counsellor writes reports to describe evaluation methodologies, discuss findings, offer conclusions and recommend changes to educational strategies. (4)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
Educational counsellors plan and organize job tasks to meet the counselling and information needs of a maximum number of students, parents, teachers, principals and peers. Their ability to schedule their own activities and manage priorities is critical to their jobs particularly when they work in more than one school. They need to reorganize job tasks frequently in order to accommodate drop-in visits from students and co-workers and emergencies.
Planning and Organizing for Others
Educational counsellors may play a central role in organizing, planning and scheduling day-to-day academic, personal, social, career and vocational counselling services. They may contribute to strategic planning at the provincial, district and institutional levels. They may be responsible for assigning tasks to graduate students in counselling and clerical staff.
Significant Use of Memory
- Recall the names of the many students, parents, counsellors, teachers, psychologists, social workers, speech-language therapists and administrators to facilitate communication.
- Remember details about the lives, academic achievements, aptitudes, personality traits, personal difficulties, academic plans, career preferences, languages and cultures of students to save time, show genuine interest and build trust. For example, an elementary school counsellor may memorize some sign language to communicate with children who are deaf.
- Find information on new assessment instruments by consulting colleagues, contacting test publishers and searching their websites. (2)
- Find information on entrance requirements, qualification exams, fees, scholarships and content of academic programs by consulting educational institutions, reading their handbooks and brochures and searching their websites. (2)
- Find information about psychological conditions and counselling approaches with which they are not familiar by talking to psychologists, psychiatrists and other specialists, attending conferences and workshops and searching textbooks, professional publications, journals and websites. (3)
- Find information about students by interviewing them, consulting teachers, parents, psychologists, social workers and speech-language therapists dealing with them, administering and interpreting standardized tests and reading permanent school records. They need to analyse and synthesize the information from a wide range of sources so that they can counsel students effectively. (3)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Educational counsellors perform some tasks independently but also work with other counsellors, teachers, psychologists, social workers, speech language therapists and with representatives from businesses, educational institutions and community organizations. They coordinate the implementation of educational policies, procedures and programs with other educational counsellors. They collaborate with teachers, parents, psychologists, social workers and speech-language therapists to establish and implement intervention plans addressing the special needs of students with learning and psychosocial difficulties. (4)
The dynamic character of education in Canada forces educational counsellors to place a premium on continuous learning. Educational counsellors are expected to expand their knowledge of psychological conditions and stay abreast of changes in academic training programs, career avenues, labour market opportunities and educational policies and procedures at the provincial, district and institutional levels. On a daily basis, they acquire new learning by speaking with co-workers and colleagues, browsing the Internet and reading books, trade publications, academic journals, brochures, handbooks, newsletters and bulletins. They also view videos, visit campuses and attend conferences and workshops on topics relevant to counselling offered by provincial ministries of education, professional associations, school boards, colleges and universities. (4)