Log in

Read the latest career development news from the Asia Pacific region. Join our group
Asia Pacific Career Dev Assoc - November 2015
Natalie Kauffman, Editor; Esther Tan, Assistant Editor
Greetings from Your President!
by Cheri Butler

The wonderful conference we had in Tokyo made a lasting impression. The presentations from the Tokyo conference have just been posted on our website, so click here to find the details you may have missed. Our Executive Director reports that our Tokyo event was not only a huge success from a developmental perspective, rich with many learning opportunities, but we also turned a modest profit which will allow our fledgling association to grow and thrive and offer more educational programming in the future.

Because of the resounding success of our Silent Auction in Tokyo (thanks again to all who donated beautiful gifts from their countries and then purchased items to take home), we will be able to fund 3 scholarships to attend next year's conference. Click here for an application. We encourage you to apply if you would find the conference fee difficult to afford.

We have several future Webinars planned for professional development for our members. Watch for these announcements soon!

We look forward to visiting Taiwan in May of 2016 and to hearing from 3 icons in the field of career development: Dr. Barry Chung, Dr. Shuh-Ren Jin, and Dr. Spencer Niles. Taipei is a city rich in history with beautiful beaches and interesting museums (see the article on visiting Taiwan). Attendees to the conference will have opportunities to learn about our field and to enjoy the culture and traditions of Taiwan.

I personally want to say that I am honored to lead this incredible organization of dedicated career professionals. I am humbled to know and interact with all of you and look forward to reconnecting in Taiwan.

Back to Top

Why Visit Taiwan?

by Yu-Chen Wang

When the Portuguese "discovered" Taiwan, they called it "Ilha Formosa" – beautiful island. With its spine of tall mountains ending in beautiful beaches, the scenery could not be more spectacular. Hot springs abound due to the volcanic activity, and Taiwan's 9 national parks claim 8.6% of the land. But Taiwan is bypassed by most tourists, so it remains largely undiscovered.

Ancient temples, arts, and other aspects of traditional Chinese culture have been preserved in Taiwan, both in museums and in everyday life. Over centuries, the Han Chinese gradually displaced and assimilated the aboriginal peoples. In 1895, Japan won Taiwan and ruled it for 50 years. After World War II, the Republic of China (ROC) took over Taiwan. Following the defeat of the ROC by the communist party in 1949, ROC moved its headquarters to Taiwan along with many of the ancient Chinese treasures. The mingling of aboriginal, Japanese, and Chinese traditions is especially noticeable in the food.

Welcoming features include an excellent subway system, WiFi in public places, English on many signs, and friendly, helpful people. Bikes are easy to rent and a great way to explore. Night markets are a great source of inexpensive local food. Longbao (steamed dumplings) are a favorite food, among other 'xiao chi' (small eats). Bubble Tea ('boba' actually contains milk, tea, and tapioca) was invented in Taiwan and not to be missed. Tea is grown in Taiwan and a multitude of tea houses offer tea tasting with atmosphere. Other Taiwan specialties include baseball, Kavalan (an award-winning single malt whiskey), local beers, and tropical fruits (some unique to Taiwan).

Tourist sites include:

  • National Palace Museum which owns over 600,000 items, some dating back 8,000 years. Only a portion of the items can be displayed at any one time.
  • Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian Temples can be found throughout Taipei. Longhsan and Guandu temples have their own subway stations.
  • Taipei 101, the 4th tallest building in the world with an observation deck that gives a bird's-eye view of Taipei and its surroundings. It was built to look like bamboo and fitted with mass dampers to keep it steady in earthquakes and typhoons up to 134 miles per hour.
  • Beitou, a town within the Taipei subway system, is famous for hot springs.
  • Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village, a cable-car ride from Taipei, provides information and performances related to the many aboriginal tribes.
  • Maokong, a village of tea houses, can be reached by cable car.
  • Jiaoshi draws hot-spring lovers from around the island and has Taiwan's only hot-spring waterslide.
  • Jiufen, a restored village on mountain cliffs overlooking the ocean, is an hour north of Taipei with beautiful tea houses and pedestrian-only paths. It served as the inspiration for the animated movie Spirited Away.
  • Sun Moon Lake, 2,500ft above sea level, is famous for its mountain scenery, and tranquility.
  • Yehliou, north of Taipei, is famous for bizarre rock formations and nearby Green Bay Beach is a white-sand beach and resort area.
  • Yushan (Jade Mountain), the tallest mountain on Taiwan, can be reached by hiking.
  • Taroko Gorge is a national park where rivers have cut incredibly narrow gorges through walls of green marble from the mountain spine to the beach.
  • Kenting National Park in Taiwan's extreme south is known for diving/snorkeling and has more than 350 types of coral, one-third of the world's total species.
  • Sizih Bay in Kaohsiung City is famous for fabulous sunsets.
  • Penghu Island, between Taiwan and mainland China, has ancient temples, magnificent beaches, and crumbling fishing villages.

Back to Top

Career Planning in Secondary Schools in Vietnam
by Chau Nguyen

In this update we would like to share a few key highlights in Vietnam in secondary education. They have created significant impact on Career Guidance Activities in Vietnam and required a shift in focus for practitioners and organizations when engaging with students from the high school sector.

Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) focuses to foster sciences and technology education through student activities and contests

MOET plans to achieve its goal of fostering and improving research and learning activities in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at HS through the following:

  • Encourage HS students to get involved in STEM research activities and apply relevant knowledge to resolve practical issues.
  • Encourage STEM teachers to research and apply new teaching and assessment methods to support student development in this area.
  • Encourage other educational institutions such as universities, research and development institutions, industries and individuals to support STEM activities at HS.
  • Provide opportunities for students and teachers to showcase and exchange their research through contests and exhibitions.

The National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020) and new regulations around compulsory and elective subjects for the Grade 12 graduation exam

The Vietnamese education system, from primary through high school, is strongly influenced and driven by the new direction of the National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020). The project's aim is to improve the English ability of Vietnamese students at all levels from primary to tertiary.

To facilitate the implementation of the regulations, MOET issued an English qualification framework. It consists of six levels and requires students to be at level 3 (B1) when they graduate from high school. It also focuses on teaching mathematics and some science subjects in English.

High School teachers are required to submit an IELTS certificate of 6.5 or alternatively to attend an intensive six-month English course created by MOET.

New Grade 12 graduation exam and new university entry requirements (2014-2015)

In the academic year 2014-2015, Vietnamese high school students could enroll in up to four universities using their high school graduation results for four continuous intakes (August, September, October and November).

As a result, most students gained a place in a university or college but not necessarily in their preferred program. A second result was that most local universities were able to fill seats but did not get the top quality students that they were expecting.

Back to Top

Singapore Update
by Sing Chee Wong

Singapore has designed and constructed its own "Advanced Certificate in Career Development Facilitation" for the training and development of career professionals in Singapore!

The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), a training division of Singapore Workforce Development Agency, worked collaboratively with the Center for Credentialing and Education (USA) to develop this career development programme. The aim is to train career professionals so that upon successful completion of the programme, these career development facilitators will be able to:

  • Assist individuals in career management and planning, and obtaining meaningful work
  • Analyse and apply career development theories, models, assessment tools and techniques relating to career development at all life stages
  • Interpret labour market and occupational information and trends in facilitating career guidance
  • Apply job search strategies and placement techniques in employment facilitation

The programme curriculum has incorporated Asian values, culture, and practices, so that it will be more suitable for use in Singapore. It also serves as the basis for the development of a framework for career services in Singapore.

At the 2015 Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA) Annual Conference in Japan, Singapore was proud that her efforts were recognized by APCDA with a commemorative plaque "For developing a framework for career services for an entire country".

Back to Top

China's 3rd Career Conference

New Elite Development Plan (NEDP) hosted the 3rd China Career Conference in Beijing on June 12th, 2015. Sponsors included the China Career Development Association (CCDA) and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People's Republic of China (MOHRSS). The annual China Career Development Conference became a great event in the career development field of China.

The theme for this year's conference was "The Transformation of Career: Challenges and Opportunities." Thirty four guest speakers were invited to share their ideas on the theme, including the current president of CCDA, Mr. Gu Dian. Professor Ryan Duffy from the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida also presented a speech titled "Help Others, Help Yourself: How to achieve happiness in the evolving world," which was a big success. In the afternoon, the conference program involved discussion forums across the 3 themes of: (i) the University, (ii) the High School, (iii) the Industry/Enterprise. There were more than 4 speakers leading a forum for each of the themes. Later in the afternoon, there was an "Open House" which facilitated an exciting exchange of ideas between 15 advisers and attendees through open discussions. In total, over 500 people attended the conference.

Here are some links to the media report about the 2015 conference:

Open House

Conference Hall

Back to Top

Career Services for Chinese Students at Home and in USA
by Ellen Weaver Pacquette

China is currently experiencing the results of the "one child" policy (1979) at the same time that economic growth has created many wealthy parents who can provide for their young adult with ease. The future of these young adults (over 325 million ages 15-29, according to the 11/2010 census) is crucial for China's future, as their career success will provide the leadership for the next generations. Firms such as PAC, New Elite Development Plan, Suzhou Success Partners Consulting and Beisen which are based in China have recognized the need for strong career services and products. For international Chinese students attending universities in the United States, the transition can be daunting. Many international students wish to find a job after graduation, but find considerable obstacles that reduce their viability.

In an effort to assist Chinese international students secure employment after graduation, many US universities offer extensive career services to their international students and international alumni, even extending partnerships with international student offices and organizations. However, resources are always a concern and it may not always be possible to provide the depth of services required by many Chinese international students who are increasing in number every year. As of right now, one in three international students in US colleges and universities are from China. Moreover, Chinese students are attending high school in the US, hoping to increase their chances of entering a US university.

Orion Career Consulting, based in Beijing and in Boston, offers full services to high school students in China through graduate students in the US. As a division of the high tech firm Creative Star Solution, Orion offers both high tech and face-to-face services designed to minimize the impact of the cultural divide for new college graduates. From visa conversions to "Boot Camp" skill immersion to parental pressure on new graduates, Orion's team of high powered and credentialed employer recruiters and career consultants strive to make the hopes of working in the US become a reality.

Back to Top

APCDA Conference Leads to Reflection
By Hsiao-Feng Cheng

I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in the 2015 Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA) international conference. This excellent platform for academic exchange enabled me to meet scholars from various countries with similar research interests.

In Taiwan, drug-related crimes account for 30% of all crimes. Though the Taiwanese government invests enormous resources in psychological treatment and drug rehabilitation programs each year, the outcomes are limited. Given these high crime rates, we must improve the efficacy of psychological treatment in order to help drug abusers integrate back to society. A recent research report on prisoners with substance abuse disorders found that inmates who went through the process of reflection on their success experiences during adolescence were able to identify their strengths, become hopeful about the future and had a higher probability to overcome their addiction. The drug addicts' negative experiences of social ostracization often lead them to believe that they cannot live a different kind of life. Hence, the process focused the participants on school- and family-related accomplishments which helped them to combat a 'defeatist' attitude. Their accomplishments varied across athletic achievements, having a strong sense of justice, awards for artistic creativity, etc. The research reported that: confidence + hope + strengths = overcoming drug addiction.

During group discussions at the APCDA conference, Korean and Japanese scholars also raised the issue of psychological treatment for drug abusers in their countries. They shared concerns about the dearth of research on this topic and the lack of successful systems and mechanisms for rehabilitation. In Taiwan, currently, there are lots of practice-oriented psychological treatments but a lack of research focus on drug rehabilitation. There is a gap between theory and practice. As a result, the existing practical applications are limited in their efficacy.

A major challenge that Taiwan and other countries face at present is how to increase dialogue between researchers and clinicians on the topic of drug rehabilitation. I appreciate academic research as it enables us to use the thinking of others to reflect on its application to our own context, and also to consider other viewpoints. By broadening our thinking horizons , we expand our knowledge base. I am grateful to the 2015 APCDA conference for offering a feast of fresh ideas and perspectives.

Dr. Hsiao-Feng Cheng is an assistant professor in the Department of Life Education at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts

Back to Top

National Competency Standards (NCS) & Career Education Act in Korea
by Dr. Chonghyun Pyun and Sungsik Ahn

Problems such as the higher unemployment rate of youth, gaps between education and the labor market, graduates who are unprepared for their careers or jobs, etc. seem to be common issues in developing countries in our times. Those problems are obviously closely related to our profession as career development professionals but we as individual practitioners have limited capability to help our clients in such social constraints without reforming the social support system or career related infrastructures. In Korea, such issues have also been problems and recently a new movement was initiated by the Korean government to solve such social problems. To be specific, the education system has not successfully prepared students for their career and for the labor market, so graduates from high schools and universities seem to have made poorly informed career decisions (e.g. high turnover within one year from employment) and to be lacking in competencies which society requires after graduation (e.g. high investment to get higher English scores for employment). There are many movements or efforts to solve such problems in Korea. However, two major recent initiatives will be introduced briefly in this article.

  1. National Competency Standards (NCS)
    NCS refers to the competencies such as knowledge, skills and attitudes, which are required to perform a particular job in industry. These competencies are standardized by government and industry. NCS includes not only job specifications but also career development guidelines for each job area. The development of NCS is still in progress and currently NCS of 887 jobs and relevant learning modules have been developed and can be found in the NCS Portal ( Furthermore, this portal includes a job application package based on NCS which offers NCS-based lifelong development career paths, hiring checklists, training criteria, etc. Using the NCS Portal, one can design a career path in each job area and can get necessary information at each stage of the career path. The Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Ministry of Education have started to develop learning modules from NCS for use in the curriculums of high schools and universities so that NCS can inspire a culture of competency-based employee selection.
  2. Career Education Act
    Legislation for the Career Education Act has been passed this year, 2015. The Ministry of Education is making follow-up plans so the Career Education Act can be manifested in practice. The Career Education Law mainly deals with (1) systematizing career education in schools to meet goals and achievement standards for career education, (2) hiring and staffing career counseling teachers in schools, (3) fostering career experiences in class, (4) providing a "Free Semester" (a semester or a year program for focusing on career education without evaluation), (5) establishing national and local career education centers, (6) imposing guidelines for suppling career education programs at all public institutes and (7) introducing an accreditation system for career experience institutes.

These movements by the Korean government to improve career development will be continued and will cause changes in the Korean school system and universities. There will be chaos in practices due to the changes, however, after the new system stabilizes, it will help our students and youth make informed career decisions so they can be more prepared for future society.

For more detail information related to those government's initiatives, contact Dr. Pyun at Korea Employment Information Service (

Back to Top

The Festival of Holi in India
by Vandana Gambir

In North India, after the cold winter, the return of warmth in March is welcomed by the festival of Holi, which signifies the victory of good over evil. Gardens are blooming, birds are singing, and the spring season or "Ritu Vasant" has arrived. According to the Hindu calendar, Holi falls on a full moon day in the month of Phagun. Holi celebrates friendship, brotherhood, repairing broken relationships, and color. It is the day to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi is also a harvest festival, marking the harvesting of the winter crop (Rabi) when wheat grains have ripened and turn golden brown. Farmers celebrate Holi by offering their first crop to the Fire God Agni.

Women start preparing early for Holi as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri, and papri for family and relatives. One must try these famous sweets.

Holi celebrations start the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colors, where children and young people form groups armed with dry colors, colored solution in waterguns (pichkaris), water balloons filled with colored water, and other creative means to color their targets. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw colors on each other, laugh and chit-chat, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. In the evening, people dress up and visit friends and family and celebrate 'Holi Milan'.

Although many people now celebrate Holi, it was originally a Hindu festival. This festival is associated with the story of Prahlad and Holika. The word Holi is derived from the name Holika, the evil sister of Hirankashyap, the demon king of the Asuras. He fancied himself to be the Supreme Being. Naturally, he ordered his people to worship him. However, the demon king's son, Prahlada, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right.

Hirankashyap asked sister Holika to sit on a burning pyre with Prahlad in her lap. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. Holika burned, Prahlada survived. Vishnu appeared and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika. The next day when the fire cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads, a practice still observed by some people. Eventually, colored powder came to be used to celebrate Holi.

Another myth associated with the Holi festival in North India is about Lord Krishna. When Krishna was a baby, the cruel king Kansa had sent demoness Putana to kill Krishna in Nandgaon. Krishna developed his characteristic dark blue skin color because the Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna despaired of winning the heart of the fair-skinned Radha because of his skin color. His mother, tired of the desperation, asked him to approach Radha and color her face in any color he wanted. This he did, and Radha and Krishna became inseparable. Ever since, the playful coloring of Radha's face has been commemorated as Holi. Therefore, Holi signifies the victory of Lord Krishna over the evil forces. In Mathura and Vrindawan (Uttar Pradesh), places famous for Krishna's raslila (love-play), on the eve of Holi, people light a bonfire celebrating the victory of Lord Krishna and Holi with songs, music and dances.

Back to Top

Book Review: Million Dollar Mission: Exploring Career Success with Youth
by Ellen Weaver Pacquette

Han has created a great "how-to" for parents of Singaporean youth to create a success path, a much-needed resource. Step 1 discusses: "Who are you?" This section addresses workforce skills needed in the future, and adds helpful websites such as This website has helpful videos which resonate with youth. For high school students, Han includes to assist in developing "career conversation starters".

Step 2 continues with short chapters which address "Where do you want to go?" Han offers information related to salary projections for major occupations in Singapore, including how to make your "first million dollars."

Step 3 concludes with "How to get there," referencing Han's earlier publications with helpful information including what employers really want in employees. The ASPIRE report (January, 2014) points out the critical need for skills in applied technology and informed decision making. One of the important aspects of informed decision making is that it provides motivation for engagement at work.

In Million Dollar Mission: Exploring Career Success with Youth, Han has produced a real contribution to Singapore and the youth-to-career pipeline, with implications worldwide.

Million Dollar Mission: Exploring Career Success with Youth
by Han Kok Kwang, Singapore
Candid Creation Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 978-981-09-4019-5

Back to Top

Copyright © 2015 Asia Pacific Career Development Association. All rights reserved.
Contact email:

You are receiving this message because you opted in at {}


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software