Competency Category:

13.6 – Work with Clients Living in Poverty

Purpose & Context

Career Development Professionals (CDPs) reflect on their own values and beliefs and biases and seek to understand those of their clients. CDPs challenge their own assumptions and avoid stereotypes that might negatively impact the well-being of the client and the outcomes of a career development intervention They know that poverty in Canada is experienced across race, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship status in all regions of the country.In preparation to working with clients living in poverty, CDPs must be knowledgeable about the unique challenges and barriers of this client population to develop realistic and attainable career development interventions. CDPs recognize that meeting basic needs is critical to career development outcomes.

Effective Performance

Competent career development professionals must be able to:

  • P1. Identify challenges and barriers individuals experiencing poverty may be facing:
    • Homelessness or inadequate housing
    • Inability to pay for transportation
    • Inability to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education
    • Lack of access to IT
    • Health conditions, e.g. physical health, mental health, substance abuse
    • Discrimination/stereotypes
    • Social isolation
    • Difficulty accessing resources, e.g. primary health care, food bank, social system
    • Lack of official identification and information, e.g. photo ID, health care card, proof of income, proof of
    • Fear of losing benefits when accessing social assistance
    • Lack of professional attire
  • P2. Identify possible solutions to overcome potential barriers, for example:
    • Explain legal protections relevant to the client, e.g. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    • Facilitate access to resources, e.g. local community services for basic needs, emergency financial assistance,
      social assistance programs, legal advice and representation
    • Advocate to potential landlord, employer, educational institute, community service
    • Adapt delivery of career services, e.g. create informal intake, offer flexible appointment process

Knowledge & Understanding

Competent career development professionals must know and understand:

  • K1. Poverty in Canada, e.g. definition, prevalence, categories of poverty, measures of poverty, causes, factors of
    vulnerability, impact on lives
  • K2. Poverty in the CDP’s local area
  • K3. Factors contributing to poverty, such as:
    • Unequal access to employment opportunities
    • Systemic inequities in economy and society
    • Unaffordable housing
    • Decreased employment opportunities
    • Diminishing government assistance
    • Limited education levels
    • Literacy levels
    • Lack of vocational training
  • K4. Social resources, e.g. local community services, social assistance programs
  • K5. Legislation impacting people living in poverty, e.g. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • K6. National, provincial and local social justice initiatives
  • K7. Service providers that may meet client needs exceeding CDP’s competency and capacity

Contextual Variables

Competent career development professionals must be able to perform this competency in the following range of contexts:

Helping clients meet basic needs (food, housing, healthcare) may initially need to take precedence over career development support.

Glossary & Key References


Industry-specific terms contained in the standard defined here, where applicable.

Poverty: standard of living that prevents an individual from meeting current and future basic needs.

Information Sources and Resources for Consideration

Shepard, Blythe C. & Mani, Priya A. Eds. Career Development Practice in Canada. Toronto: CERIC Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-9811652-3-3.

Zunker, Vernon G. Career Counselling: A Holistic Approach 9th edition. Boston: Loose-leaf Edition, 2016. ISBN-10: 978-1-305-40106-8.

Context Rating Scales


Q: What is the consequence of a professional being unable to perform this skill according to the standard?

Moderate risk: CRITICAL


Q: How frequent and under what conditions is this skill performed?

Routinely, regular course of procedure

Level of Difficulty

Q: Under routine circumstances, how would you rate the level of difficulty in performing this skill?

Moderate difficulty or complexity

Time Required to Gain Proficiency

Q: What is the average length of time or number of repeated events that are minimally necessary for an individual to become proficient in performing the skill to the standard?

A competent career development professional requires a minimum of one year of experience with at least 40 different clients, representing a broad range of individuals, including clients experiencing poverty.


Practitioners typically perform this competency without supervision, and alone.


It is unlikely that this competency will automate.

Requisite Work Aids, Tools, Equipment or Materials


Career Development Professional Centre

Help us cultivate a community we all enjoy by reviewing and following the Code of Conduct.  

Our Purpose  

Thank you for being a part of the online CDPC social learning community. To ensure that all members have the best possible experience, we have a few ground rules that we ask everyone to adhere to. This code of conduct applies equally to every person in the community and is intended to foster an online space that is inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all. 

Community Rules 

Be welcoming 

We strive to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds and identities. We aim to create and facilitate a community that promotes excellence and innovation in career and workforce development. Please extend respect to all members; we all come from different backgrounds and levels of knowledge and there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

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We won’t all agree all the time, but when we disagree don’t let those disagreements turn into personal attacks. A community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened will not be a productive one. Instead, when having discussions in the online community, create productive conversations around the content being presented, not the person behind the content. Any post that is determined to be “hate speech” towards any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation.  

Hate Speech could include and is not limited to:  

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A good rule of thumb is to never post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the world seeing or that you wouldn’t want anyone knowing came from you. We ask that you keep in mind the focus of this community, which is building excellence and innovation in career and workforce development for all individuals.  

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This community will be focused on building excellence and discussing innovation in the career and workforce development field. The goal of this community is to communicate goals, challenges, constructive feedback, and questions in relation to career and workforce development. The community should be a place for continued learning and development as well as a place to discuss the future of our field (solicitation without written consent by the Project or Advisory team, is strictly prohibited). Any post that is determined to be soliciting any individual or group will be deleted, and the user account may be locked until an investigation regarding the post has been concluded. The user may be given a written warning or removed from the CPDC community platform depending on the findings of the investigation. 

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Group Admins 

There are four group admins who are available to you. Below are their names and their spoken language. 

Heather Powell | Anglophone 

Gabrielle St-Cyr | Francophone/Anglophone 

Florence Desrochers | Francophone/Anglophone

Muriel Andoblé-Yao | Francophone

Thank you and welcome to the CDPC Community!