Career-first: an approach to sustainable labour market integration

Vanesa Fuertes, Ronald W. McQuaid, Peter J. Robertson

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Active labour market policies aim at supporting people entering and, importantly, remaining in the labour market. Initiatives to this end have often been characterised by a mixture of ‘human capital’ and ‘work-first’ approaches, although both have had a relatively limited effect on achieving job sustainability for those most distant from the labour market. This paper explores a distinctive approach to supporting job entry and sustainable employment that we have called ‘career-first’. The career-first approach to labour activation draws on three separate traditions of thinking: labour market, career development, and the capability literatures. Common ground is found in these three perspectives so each complements the weaknesses of the others. A career-first approach may be able to help deliver benefits to the individual, their family, and the wider society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance
Early online date22 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2021


  • employability
  • career-first
  • career development
  • labour market policy
  • capability

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