Just a Minute to Make a Difference: Fresh Updates from the Advocacy Front Lines

By Elle O’Flaherty

How often do we look up from our desk or the client before us to consider our larger impact? How often do we think not just about our workplace, but consider what could be done at a state or federal level? The National Career Development Association (NCDA) connects you to valuable resources, networking, and learning opportunities. It also connects you to NCDA’s federal- and state-level advocacy efforts on the behalf of its members and their clients.

As the premiere organization for career development professionals, and a publisher and patron of career development research, NCDA is uniquely positioned to weigh in on legislation and regulations that impact practitioners, workers, and students. NCDA, as a non-profit, is also entirely nonpartisan, which means it stands outside of political dynamics to propose and endorse policies that have wide support.

The NCDA Government Relations Committee (GR) has been working on your behalf to advocate for legislation that impacts educational institutions schools and universities, workplaces, individuals, and career development professionals themselves. To do this effectively, in 2023 the GR Committee launched a survey asking members about their priorities for NCDA’s policy work, and issues they would like to see elevated.

In consideration of member feedback, NCDA’s vision and strategic plan, and robust committee discussions, 11 Policy Areas were identified to guide NCDA’s advocacy work. Each Policy Area was, in turn, broken down into focuses. Together, these areas and focuses are the framework guiding NCDA’s outreach to policymakers:

Policy Areas

1. Employment Opportunities and Job Market Adaptability

Focus 1: Foster a dynamic and inclusive job market for all skill levels and backgrounds.
Focus 2: Support job transition programs, particularly for workers in declining industries or those impacted by automation and digital transformation.
Focus 3: Promote initiatives that match job seekers with opportunities based on current and forecasted labor market trends.

2. Student Career Services

Focus 1: Advocate for career services from early education through adult education.
Focus 2: Support funding for high-quality career services in K-12 settings.
Focus 3: Support funding for high-quality career services in higher education institutions.
Focus 4: Support funding for high-quality career services in vocational programs, community programs, and additional services for minors and adults. 

3. Professional Accreditation and Certification Standards

Focus: Support the accreditation of career development professionals to ensure quality and uniformity, with particular emphasis on NCDA’s professional and ethical standards.

4. Access to Professional Development

Focus: Advocacy for federal programs for ongoing professional development among practitioners and educators in the career development field.

5. Workforce Development and Education

Focus: Integrate career development into national education policies and workforce development programs.

6. Equal Opportunity and Inclusion

Focus: Support all individuals, especially those from underrepresented and marginalized groups, in equitable access to career development resources and opportunities.
Focus: Protect workers from discrimination, especially those from underrepresented and marginalized groups.

7. Special Populations

Focus: Support military veterans, individuals with disabilities, reentering formerly incarcerated individuals, immigrants, and other groups with barriers to workforce participation.

8. Mental Health and Career Development

Focus: Integrate career development as part of broader mental health and well-being initiatives at the federal level.

9. Funding for Research and Innovation

Focus: Facilitate research in career development trends, technologies, and best practices.

10. Small Business Development

Focus: Support small businesses and their owners.

11. Data Privacy and Ethical Compliance

Focus: Advocacy for ethical standards, and data protection related to gathering and storing client information.

Based on this framework, the GR created dedicated workstreams and an action plan to further its work. Through this process, the GR identified a need for further outreach and training to state CDA government relations leaders. As a result, the Committee’s state coordinators have instituted quarterly meetings to disseminate information, train state representatives, and share best practices.

Hill Day 2023

NCDA Hill Day 2023

The GR has also identified the need to expand its efforts from the legislative branch to federal departments and agencies like the Department of Labor and the Department of Education. This year’s May 16th Hill Day, where a delegation of NCDA leaders will meet with congressional offices to advocate and demonstrate NCDA’s expertise, will include meetings with leaders from federal agencies for the first time. The aim is to grow NCDA’s voice not only on laws, but on the regulations that implement those laws and create specific requirements for federal programs.

In addition to this focused effort, the GR has identified important legislation and received Board approval to publicly support these bills. Recent public statements include:

Recent support for other legislation includes:

Now, as the Committee moves forward into its next phase of advocacy work, we could use some help. Your help. We are looking for new members to broaden and deepen our efforts. No experience required. We will train anyone who is interested in the law- and rulemaking processes and advocacy best practices. If you are interested in getting involved, to whatever degree you can, please check out the newly updated Advocacy section of NCDA’s website. All are welcome to join the monthly GR Committee meetings and you will find the dates and zoom link in the Advocacy webpages. The GR Committee is pushing NCDA’s advocacy and its prominence as a nationally important voice on career development and issues that impact jobs and workplaces writ large. Join us!


Elle O FlahertyElle O’Flaherty is Co-Chair of NCDA’s Government Relations Committee. She founded Interlace Solutions, a performance and leadership training and coaching firm with a sub-specialty in ADHD. Elle built a certification course through the Career Planning Academy that teaches career development professionals how to work with ADHD clients. Previously, she was a federal attorney for nearly 17 years. Elle lives in Washington, DC, with her family and Penny, the greatest dog in the world. www.interlacesolutions.com

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Deneen Pennington   on Tuesday 04/02/2024 at 09:23 AM

Thank you for your efforts. NCDA is fortune to have you in leadership!

Jim Peacock   on Monday 04/08/2024 at 07:19 AM

This is very important work for our profession. Thanks so much for sharing what the Government Relations Committee is doing.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.