National Employment Counseling Association (NECA) History and Professional Development Direction
In his 1963 Manpower Report to Congress, John F. Kennedy reaffirmed the importance of employment and career counseling and manpower utilization, saying:
"Manpower is the basic resource. It is the indispensable means of converting other resources to mankind’s use and benefit. How well we develop and employ human skills is fundamental in deciding how much we will accomplish as a nation."
The National Employment Counseling Association (“NECA”) finds its historical parents in the professional vocational and career guidance movement and the U.S. Department of Labor. NECA’s roots include the 1898 beginning of education and career counseling assistance for high school students and the founding of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA) in 1913, which through merger, evolved into today’s American Counseling Association (ACA). The federal role was defined by the 1913 creation of the Department of Labor and five years later the Public Employment Service, beginning a series of legislative mandates for employment counseling and creation of a national system of public employment offices offering these services.
The thrust for a separate association for employment and workforce counselors was given major impetus in the Kennedy era with the 1962 Manpower Development and Training Act and the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act addressing problems experienced by adults excluded from the labor market, expanding employment counseling services, and the need for professional counselors to provide them.
Employment services counselors, counselor educators and direct service professionals working in a variety of settings, helping people with the career development process all the way through to job placement, had long been active participants in NVGA and its successors. However, as their educational and professional competencies developed, and their objectives became more clearly defined, the need became apparent for a separate organization to address the educational, ethical, legislative and professional leadership concerns for Employment Service Counselors working in either governmental or private settings. A petition that the National Employment Counseling Association become a separate Division of APGA was accepted in 1966.
The first President of the newly formed Division was Norman McGough in July, 1966, and NECA has operated continuously ever since. NECA Presidents since are:
Sally L. Miller
Mary Ann Radebach
NECA provides leadership that fills gaps left by the bureaucracy, such as sponsoring annual workshops of employment counseling supervisors/practitioners to share practices at ACA conventions. These workshops have been award-winning, including the city of Indianapolis giving NECA the Keys to the City and opening the Workshop with a city council official proclamation that it was National Employment Counseling Day, or the TV and radio media coverage in Charlotte on NECA’s timely addressing employment issues, and entrepreneurship and social justice as models to restart the economy.
NECA also helps to build the capacity of work force professionals by sponsoring a curriculum for certification as a Global Career Development Facilitator and/or Instructor, helping to ensure a minimum level of work force professional practitioner competency. Instructors in counseling and career development are also provided opportunities to upgrade their skills to provide the highest level of education to human resource and work force professionals.
To address unemployment and transition issues, NECA’s agenda focuses on restructuring local, state, regional and federal work force alliances to create more viable job opportunities. Critical to success with this agenda are initiatives in education and job training programs to help work force professionals move workers to higher-wage, permanent jobs—not from one low-income job to another, or in some cases, to welfare. In all its activities, including journals, annual report and electronic newsletters, a resource-rich website and annual conferences, institutes, symposiums and workshops, NECA seeks first and foremost to represent the interests of Career and Employment Counseling practitioners.
This history of NECA was prepared by Dr. Kay T. Brawley, while President of NECA, at the request of the Amercian Counseling Association (ACA) for a comprehensive 2002 publication on ACA’s purpose, benefits to membership and organizational structure including the divisions and regions. Currently, Dr. Brawley is the Professional Development Director of NECA; for more information about NECA-sponsored trainings and professional development opportunities, please see the NECA website: www.employmentcounseling.org, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.