Career InformationOverview

The main reason people require the services of a CDP is to obtain career information about themselves, the world of work and making career decisions.

CPD Assessments
Career Information Overview

Career Information Overview


This competency requires a Career Development Practitioner (CDP) to: 

  • Know where to access and have access to career information;
  • Know where to access and have access to information on financial aid;
  • Know where to access and have access to information on post-school education and training opportunities;
  • Know the entry requirements for post-school education and training programmes and courses;
  • Know where to access and have access to information on national benchmark test (NBT) writing centres;
  • Know where to access and have access to information on the national senior certificate (NSC) rewrite centres and schedules;
  • Know where to access and have access to labour market information;
  • Know where to access and have access to the national list of skills in high demand;
  • Know where to access information on salary scales;
  • Critically assess the quality of the information that is being used;
  • Thoroughly understand the National Qualifications Framework (NQF);
  • Know how to enter a career through access to and understanding of career pathing information;
  • Access work availability information including internships, learnerships, apprenticeships, youth wage subsidy opportunities and volunteer opportunities;
  • Refer clients to recognised paper and e-resources on career related information;
  • Understand legislation pertaining to employment, education and training;
  • Monitor trends in occupational shifts; and
  • Guide individuals and groups to develop career and educational plans.

Case study:

Busi Gamble has been working as a lay counsellor at Abazali, which specialises in training and development. The organisation noticed that there were many gaps in addressing career development within the community where they served. Busi was asked to spearhead the career development project as their CDP.

Busi understands that she needs to master certain skills to perform the task of a CDP successfully or efficiently (referred to as competency areas). She sets about collecting information which will be available to community members. She makes appointments with the nearest tertiary institutions and learns about their course offerings and entrance requirements. She also uses the library and web-based searches to further her goal.

Thanks to SACDA, Busi learns about Khetha, which provided her with a wealth of information on careers, subject choices and educational institutions. This serves as a good starting point for her.  The website also provides information on internships, learnerships, apprenticeships, youth wage subsidy opportunities and volunteer opportunities.

In addition Busi discovers Gostudy and Career Planet which also provide information on bursaries and financial aid information. There were a number of bursary offerings by private companies and governmental departments, which could be found on the website Bursaries South Africa. A simple internet search revealed which governmental financial aid was available, with the most preferred being the National Student Financial Aid Scheme

After compiling the list of institutions, Busi sets about downloading brochures for their course offerings. She obtains a copy of the Central Applications Office (CAO) handbook and looks at the institutions listed. She makes notes about their requirements and understands that every institution will differ slightly in their requirements, but requirements about high school subjects  remain the same, for example, Mathematics and Physics at Grade 12 level is a requirement for engineering courses across institutions. Busi learned about the National Benchmark Test (NBT) which measures a student’s academic readiness for University. Some institutions require the National Benchmark Test results, while others do not. All information about NBT assessments, examples of past papers, venues, costs and schedules could be found on the National Benchmark Test website.

Busi was pleased that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has offered much information on their website for high school learners, but she was concerned also about mature learners who wished to write matric. She happily noted the Department of Basic Education (DBE) second chance programme that gave learners a wonderful opportunity to further their education by re-writing their National Senior Certificate. The DBE website provides users with information about the centres where one can write and schedules with dates.

Busi often found that learners wanted to know about the labour market and which careers were in high demand and she found useful information on the DHET website. 

Busi refers learners who want to know what jobs pay to the Career junction website to find out what the various professions pay (estimate) so that she could give learners an idea of what  one can earn in a certain profession. Busi learnt that the Department of Employment and Labour has an electronic job-matching website, the Employment Services system of South Africa, on which job seekers can apply for work. The Department of Employment and Labour also provides career development for unemployed people, assisting them to transition from learning to work and through different periods of unemployment. 

Busi creates a document for easy reading because she felt it was important to explain to learners of all ages, the importance of the National Qualifications Framework, which is the South African framework used to arrange levels of learning achievement, where there are 10 levels of learning achievement. Every registered South African qualification needs to specify its NQF level which links to acquired skills at that level of study for example a NSC (matric) is at NQF level 4. The NQF focuses on a list of ‘applied competencies,’ so each NQF level shows a certain standard of intellectual and academic skills, including problem-solving abilities and learner autonomy, therefore the higher the NQF level of your qualification, the more intellectually skilled you are. She prints a copy of the NQF levels from SAQA and keeps it in her file.

Busi realises that she needs to be familiar with several legislative frameworks pertaining to employment, education, and training such as:

Looking at the above case study, it is easy to see that Busi is competent in the area of using career information effectively and she has developed a wide base of information that can assist her in her work. There will be some comments and questions relating to this case study so bear that in mind as you continue.

In addition to these, CDPs must be competent in other key areas as well, such as being able to refer clients to resources relating to career information. This can be in both print media (such as career information books, newspapers) and e-resources (such as websites or online articles), that are in an electronic format.

The following information, tips, guidelines and questions will assist you. 

Use career information effectively


The main reason people require the services of a CDP is to obtain career information about themselves, the world of work and making career decisions. They also require the services of CDPs when skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling themselves. It is for this reason that the effective use of career information is a key competency for CDPs.

It is evident that CDPs must focus on many stages of the learners’ career, from the early years all the way to retirement. It is therefore essential that CDPs update their databases and keep abreast of the changes in the economic arena to deliver the best service possible.   

It is necessary for the CDP to develop themselves and upgrade their own skills by:

  • Attending workshops, seminars, and training.
  • Researching and exploring the internet for information on career websites and bursary sites.
  • Joining existing social media groups or creating an online community of CDPs. 
  • Registering on relevant career sites.
  • Becoming a member of SACDA and maintaining their CPD points.

In concluding, proper delivery of content is essential, as an ineffective career service results in students having limited access to information. Ineffective delivery of content does not meet the needs of the client and can have damaging effects on a learner of any age. Research has shown that limited careers information is one of the most harmful factors for work-seekers finding jobs.

Critically assess the quality of the information that is being used 

Like everything the CDP does, quality is of utmost importance. Feedback from clients is helpful and follow-ups with clients after some time has passed will indicate if the information was helpful, current, relevant and if it was what the client needed.

Giving out incorrect information could be potentially damaging. When using information sources, consider the following:

  • who is responsible for the contents of the electronic, website or printed page(s) you reference?,
  • the date it was written, 
  • the legitimacy of the organisation, company, or individual producing the information,
  • whether the information is from reliable sources.

Sometimes one becomes complacent and can get into a pattern of doing the same thing, visiting the same sites and distributing the same information. Finding new sources of information is key, especially those that offer similar kinds of information. This can help you compare quality.

Thoroughly understand the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

What is the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)? Imagine a building plan of a 10-storey building. The NQF is like a plan of such a building with levels 1 to 10 for learning. It stipulates standards for qualifications and part-qualifications. Apart from qualifications and part-qualifications, other information is also registered and recorded on the NQF. This includes professional designations and learner achievements.

What does the NQF do? 

The NQF is like a map or guide that enables learners to chart their education and training path. For example, schooling in South Africa begins under the umbrella of General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-Framework (GFETQSF), or what is better known as Basic Education. At the end of Grade 9, a learner can either take the vocational route and go to a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College or remain within the Higher Education and Training Qualifications Sub Framework (HEQSF) and study towards a National Senior Certificate at NQF Level 4, which can prepare them for University studies should they so prefer.  

Apart from the GFETQSF and HEQSF, the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF) provides for qualifications that consist of a minimum of 25 credits associated with a trade, occupation or profession. It results from work-based learning. Examples are courses for housekeepers and machine operators, etc, but the learning ranges from fields such as sales and service, clerical support work and technicians, to professionals and managers. 

The NQF brings together the three Qualifications Sub-Frameworks, namely: 

  • General Education and Further Training Qualifications Sub-Framework (GFETQSF); 
  • Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF); and 
  • Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF). 

These three sub-frameworks are interdependent and enable learners to move from one sub-framework to the other.

A learner who takes the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework route will get a National Certificate (Vocational) also pegged at NQF Level 4. 

These learners can continue to higher education or obtain other higher occupational qualifications. They can move across the Sub-Frameworks. The NQF was created to ensure that all this is possible without learners reaching ‘dead-ends’ in their education and training.

Read this document to learn more about the Role of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD). 

Career Paths 

Choosing a career can help you select the right education and skills you need to obtain and support that career. Making careful and well-considered decisions regarding your career can increase your chances of success. Choosing the right career can take time and research. In this article, we explore what a career is, share different kinds of career paths, plus offer some tips to help you find the right career.

Career has two definitions. 

  • The word career is often used to refer to a profession, occupation, trade or vocation. A career could define what you do for a living and range from those that require extensive training and education to those you can perform with only a high school certificate and a willingness to learn. A career could mean working as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, carpenter, veterinary assistant, electrician, cashier, teacher or hairstylist. 
  • Career also refers to the career related progress and actions you have taken throughout your life. It is comprised of the different studies you have completed, skills you have developed and jobs you have held. When viewed in this context, a career includes everything related to your career development, including your choices of profession and advancement whether informal or formal. Your single career could include a variety of different paths. 

Types of career paths 

  • Multiple unrelated jobs: Your career could be made up of multiple jobs that are unrelated to one another. For example, you could work as a sales associate in a retail environment, then as a server in a restaurant and then as a receptionist in a veterinary clinic. Because each job is vastly different than the next, there is no way to predict what your next position will be. Because they have very little in common, you may not see significant pay increases from one to the next or significant increases in responsibility. However, you might have gained multiple skills of which some might be transferable to another job.
  • Advancing within one occupation: This path involves advancing in the same occupation, whether you work for the same organisation or at different establishments. For example, if you are working as a cashier, you could eventually be moved to a customer service position where you operate a cash register but also handle customer service issues. Eventually you could be moved to a head cashier position, supervising the other cashiers. 
  • Advancing in the same industry but not occupation: This path involves staying in the same industry, but not necessarily the same occupation. For example, if your goal is to be a manager at a restaurant, you could start out as a dish washer, then move to a server position, then head server or assistant manager and eventually manager.

Examples of career paths

To understand how career paths can progress, it can be helpful to review career paths for a variety of different careers. Be aware that some career paths, like those that advance within one occupation, are direct and others are indirect and can involve working in different industries or different types of jobs.

Path example 1: Customer service and sales: 

Customer service representative call centre sales representative salesperson account executive  sales manager

Path example 2: Editorial: 
Editorial assistant assistant editor editor senior editor editorial director

Path example 3:  Education: 
Teacher curriculum coordinator assistant principal principal

Path example 4: Retail: 
Sales administrator assistant management store manager regional manager

Path example 5: Human resources: 
HR administrator HR specialist deputy director of HR director of HR

    Tips for finding the right career path

    • Network regularly
    • Be a lifelong learner
    • Pay attention to industry news
    • Make plans, but be flexible
    • Be ready for career shifts
    • Be open to lateral moves

    Read this document to learn more about the Indeed Career Guide: What Is the Difference Between a Job and a Career?

    Other possible avenues are:

    • View career sections in newspapers for advertisements of higher/other posts;
    • View websites of organisations for advertisements of higher/other posts;
    • Register on the websites of private employment agencies to obtain other options;
    • Consider finding a career mentor or coach;
    • Career advice from a trained professional can assist with career mobility;
    • Volunteer at service groups to build skills different from your own; and
    • Consider further training and education of a formal nature, for example study towards a higher qualification or do a vocational certificate.

    Monitor trends in occupational shifts

    To monitor trends, you must stay in touch with new research and watch researchers in the career space closely. Sometimes attending conferences, being part of communities of practice and  committees that reflect on research helps. 

    Research has been conducted on occupational shifts and skills challenges facing the SA economy.

    Read this document to learn more about the Occupational Shifts and Skills Challenges Facing the South African Economy.

    Reading and grappling with this kind of research makes you more informed at macro/'big picture' levels so you can understand how various aspects impact each other and realise that nothing happens in isolation or in a vacuum. 

    A number of scarce and critical skills lists are available in South Africa. These lists can be useful when guiding clients on opportunities that are in demand ( It should be noted, however, that scarce skills are often more in demand in some areas than others. A CDP should consider what is available both formally and informally in the areas where their client resides. 

    Please also find the most recent list of Occupations in High Demand below. The list will be reviewed every 2 years, unless it is deemed necessary to do so earlier. The DHET will publish its next list of occupations in high demand in 2022.

    Now that you have worked through all the information, move on to answer the questions to test your understanding.

    Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 South Africa (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ZA) 

    This means you can share and adapt this work but not for commercial purposes. You will only need to include the following reference to the original content in all shared works.

    Kindly attribute as follows:

    Beukes, C. J., Mahadave, K., & Kanhai, K. (2022). Professional Development Portfolio for Career Development Practitioners (1st ed.)CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ZA, 


    Karuna Mahadave

    Christopher John Beukes