Continuous Participation Model

Danielle Rivern-Simard & Yanik Simard 2005

It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.


Continuous Participation Model as a theory is based in a constructivist view of the world. The world of work is increasingly characterised by continuous change to which workers, whether self-employed or employed, must constantly adapt and change plans. Riverin-Simard & Simard recognise this is happening in 3 different areas (Riverin-Simard, D., & Y. Simard, 2005, p1)

  • Intrapersonal change along the lines of a developmental model
  • Intra-organisational transitions or changes within organisations such as vertical mobility and changes of duty
  • Inter-organisational transitions, in this case, changes between different organisations and also including voluntary job changes and unexpected re-entry into the job market following closures or mergers

There are also other developments at play such as the knowledge economy and the increasing role of technology and ICT, globalisation with its many implications and consequences, the (what seems) ongoing fragmentation of the job market from fixed-term/short-term contracts to many other different permutations that often give workers the feeling they only benefit the employer, though that is not always the case.

All this means that there is an increasing necessity for continuous and life-long career planning and adaptation or career flexibility as well as life-long learning. All this also has consequences for life outside of work and on family life. Riverin-Simard & Simard also recognise that participation in the labour market is a goal of education and career guidance systems (Riverin-Simard, D., & Y. Simard, 2005, p1) and so the word continuous extends beyond the part of life we’re involved in employment.


If we want to summarise this in a visual representation, the Continuous Participation Model would look as follows:

Rivern-Simard Continuous Participation of career guidance theories.

To stay engaged in a continuously changing socio-economic and socio-cultural environment, the individual has to:

  • Constantly engage, re-evaluate and adapt in relation to their self & environment
  • Continuously re-identify what the environment requires and demands and re-assess their own strengths in view of this
  • Constantly re-evaluate and change their plans in a mutual interaction between the self and the environment.
  • Build strategies, resilience and skills to cope with the unknown and constant potential for change and happenstance


Continuous Participation Model’s links to other theories:

This is a theory rooted in constructivism as stated before and we can also see strong links with other theories built on the premise of unplanned change, especially Happenstance theory. It differs from this and Chaos theory for instance, in that it attempts to make the unplanned and unexpected ‘planned for’ through continuous assessment and adaptation. Planned Happenstance theory argues in favour of building up the skills to deal with the unexpected and explore (John D. Krumboltz, 2008) but doesn’t seem to have the time paradigm as strongly as the Continuous Participation Model. This is in my view reflected in the fact that this is a model (for action) whereas Planned Happenstance (John D. Krumboltz, 2008) and Chaos theory are proposed as a theory (Pryor G.L and Bright J., 2007). Although ‘Planned Happenstance’ and ‘The Chaos Theory of Careers: Theory, Practice and Process‘ strongly suggests the difference isn’t as great is I seem to suggest in the previous sentence. Theory translates into practice.

Also, the graphic above suggests linearity which isn’t really there in the sense that continuous change implies difference and non-linearity and not travel from point A to B. The only linear aspect could be time constantly moving forward and the only constant is the aspect of continuous participation.


Continuous Participation in practice:

Although their publication is aimed at applying the model to adult career guidance, considerations can be made on the basis of this for other groups as well.

Riverin-Simard & Simard propose 4 strategies, with the central tenet that “Career counselling is generally defined as a constant process of reactivating the sociovocational
 participation of adults” (Riverin-Simard & Simard, 2005, p3):

  1. The harmonizing strategy of career counselling: knowing elements intrinsic to self – knowing elements intrinsic to the environment – finding ways to harmonise these
    • this could be related to matching strategies for instance.
  1. The interactive strategy
 of career counselling: perception of the mutual/interactive strategies of the self and the environment and their reciprocal strength
    • exploring how the client impact on their professional/educational environment and how does the professional/educational environment impact on the client.
  1. The
 developmental strategy of career counselling: focuses on continuously renewing plans, keeping up to date and develop an awareness of the impact of those changing plans for the future
    • explore and help the client develop skills in recognising how to realise their ideas, goals and aims, for instance through action planning but also by helping them realise how organisational/labour market development works.
  1. The
 contextualizing strategy of career counselling: recognising the continuously changing context of self and environment and developing skills of managing that unpredictability and taking responsibility for own functioning within this uncertainty
    • supporting clients in building the skills to deal with uncertainty and help them develop confidence, resilience and seeing opportunity in uncertainty and change.

The first may help individuals make immediate decisions with the other three are 
key to support clients develop career management skills. You can see these four reflected in the graphic representation of the Continuous Participation Model above, which I hope makes more sense now, if it didn’t before. These four strategies can’t be seen to be applied on their own but they form part of an integral model.

What is on this page can only be a brief summary or representation of the Model of Continuous Participation and I would strongly suggest reading Rivern-Simard & Simard publication below.



As per usual, it would be important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of this model by thinking of answers to the questions below and other questions you can come up with after looking into the model in more detail. Also always look at a couple of other theories, ideally from other categories, to see where the gaps are in either.

Questions linked to this theory could be:

  • Would this work with other groups, such as young people and children, as well? How would you need to adapt your approach if so?
  • Is there constant change for everyone, all the time? Or is there a chance that if you apply at least 3 of the strategies above, you could ‘over egg’ the pudding for some clients who ‘just want a job’? What are your thoughts on how much change differs between clients?
  • Linked to the previous question: applying the four strategies continuously may look like a lot of work for the client. Is it? And if so, how would you motivate a client that ‘it makes sense’ to do so? What techniques could you use?
  • This model seems to be aimed at policy, if you look at Rivern-Simard & Simard publication. Would it be easy to integrate all four aspects into practice?
  • How would this impact on resources? Especially time?
  • Please, have a look at and compare the Continuous Participation Model with Career Self-determination Theory especially. What are the differences? Can you recognise any strengths and weaknesses in either if you do this? Feel free to do the same activity with the two other theories mentioned above, of course.


Useful link & references:

  • Towards a Model of Continuous Participation:
 The Central Role of Career Counselling; Rivern-Simard D. & Simard Y., 2005, Ministère de l’Éducation, Québec
  • The Happenstance Learning Theory, Krumboltz, J. D., Journal of Career Assessment, Vol 17, Issue 2, 2009, Sage Publications
  • Pryor, Robert & Bright, Jim. (2007). The Chaos Theory of Careers: Theory, Practice and Process. Career Planning and Adult Development. 23. 46-56.