Ethical Behaviour -CDP Levels

Understanding ethical issues related to different Career Development Practitioner levels.

CPD Assessments
Ethical Behaviour - CDP Levels

Ethical Behaviour - CDP Levels

Case Study

Steve is a career development officer at a local NGO. He is passionate about giving information to learners as they embark on lifelong learning paths. Steve admits that he lacks the necessary training required to perform such a task and was appointed because of his passion and extensive knowledge about careers and courses. He is super friendly and has casual relationships with learners. Learners think of him as the big brother they can go to when in need of information. He not only provides career information but guidance on personal relationships and issues. He recently accepted a fancy pair of headphones as a token of appreciation for the service he offered. The NGO did not commonly charge people, neither in cash nor kind. One will often see Steve hanging around with learners on the premises, sometimes he plays soccer with them, sometimes a game of cards. He even has braais on weekends and invites learners over. Steve believes that he is providing a genuine service in extending himself to youngsters and this keeps them out of trouble.

Career development is an emerging function in South Africa. The recent establishment of the South African Career Development Association (SACDA) aids in developing both the practitioners and the profession. Practitioners work in different, diverse environments and they might need specialised skills and knowledge to assist learners of all ages. SACDA has created various levels at which people may operate whilst rendering the service of career development.

This has resulted in a differentiation between core competencies that all career development practitioners need to possess and specialised competencies that only certain levels of career development practitioners need to possess. We look at all three levels and the scope of each function:

1. Entry Level Career Development Practitioner (ELCDP)

An ELCDP is qualified to provide information on the following aspects:
  • Career-related enquiries, educational institution information and financial aid, trending careers, learning programmes, entry requirements for tertiary educational institutes, labour market, job availability. 
  • An ELCDP is able to search, collect, evaluate and assimilate career-related information and is able to refer clients to several different sources for information. The ELCDP is able to facilitate information-sharing sessions with individuals and groups.
2. Advanced Level Career Development Practitioner (ALCDP)

An ALCDP is similar to the ELCDP and meets the requirements of the ELCDP, but has additional knowledge, values, attitudes and skills which allow them to provide more advanced or specialised services. These include but are not limited to:
  • Provide career advice and guidance, apply career development theories and decision-making models.
  • Administer non-standardised assessments and assist clients in understanding the results of these assessments in relation to their personal circumstances.
  • By working with the client, the ALCDP is able to develop career and study options and co-design a plan of action with the client, based on the options.
  • Help clients become employable by assisting clients in developing their Curriculum Vitaes, auditing the quality of applications, preparing for interviews, job searching skills, networking and self-branding. The ALCDP works with individuals and groups.
3. Specialist Career Development Practitioner (SCDP)

A SCDP meets all the criteria of an ELCDP and ALCDP, but he/she is a (registered) specialist in multiple areas of career development.

Very often SCDPs may be registered with one or more related professional bodies such as the Institute for People Management (IPM), Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations. At this level, practitioners usually possess advanced Masters or Doctoral degrees.

Areas of specialisation can include but are not limited to:
  • Career guidance and counselling, career development research or executive coaching and course content development.
  • Training for career development practitioners.
  • Conduct, score and interpret psychometric tests.
  • Outreach centre developers as determined by the relevant professional body from time to time.
You may note the different levels of career development practitioners' work. This could be seen as the scope of function, which refers to the various activities which occur in the performance of a job.

In order for one to understand ethical practice, one needs to thoroughly understand the scope within which they are permitted to practice. Failure to practice ethically has severe consequences for the career development practitioner.

Consequences of Unethical Behaviour
  • Unethical behaviour has the potential to harm both the client and the practitioner. It can negatively affect the reputation, credibility and registration of the career development practitioner. Unethical conduct or behaviour can also result in legal action against the practitioner. 
Ways of expanding one’s knowledge 
  • Teaching others about the key tenets of the Code as understanding the concepts offers greater insight into the Ethical Code.
  • Creating or thinking of an ethical dilemma a practitioner could face, then applying the Ethical Code and standards to that dilemma to try to resolve the issue.
  • Ethical behaviour is an everyday practice. Career development practitioners need to become proficient with the Ethical Code and Standards. Doing so will help practitioners expand their knowledge and understanding of this field. 
  • Take additional refresher courses. 
Ethical Responsibilities of Career Development Practitioners to Clients
  • Career development practitioners are under obligation to respect the human worth and dignity of every person to whom services are rendered. This means that career practitioners accept that individuals have a right to make their own choices, to take responsibility for those choices, to engage in self-development and to maintain confidentiality. 
  • Career practitioners are obligated to provide equal opportunities without prejudice to persons of different educational backgrounds, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, or religion, and to avoid all forms of discrimination. Career practitioners are not to harass or judge a client in any way.
  • Confidentiality is of paramount importance in the field of career development, however in certain situations it is considered acceptable to release confidential information. These include situations where:
    • A practitioner has been subpoenaed or ordered by a court of law to disclose information.
    • The individual or client involved is at risk of harming themselves or others.
    • A practitioner intends to explore a case with a fellow professional for supervision purposes.
  • Career practitioners must accept that clients are the experts or authority in their own lives. For this reason, a practitioner should not dictate or impose what is the best or most appropriate choice for a client, they should not offer advice and should not portray themselves as an expert with all the answers.
  • Practitioners are advised against giving career support to friends and co-workers as this could influence the objectivity of the practitioner.
In career development and advancement, a career practitioner should seek to be involved in ongoing supervision to increase their skills and knowledge. Practitioners should also obtain training periodically to be able to provide competent services to diverse clients and to ensure that they are able to use new techniques and theories effectively. Career practitioners should strive to be current and innovative in the content and contexts of career development services.

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

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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