Many and demanding are the challenges that career counseling and vocational guidance professionals must face at a time of marked uncertainty and deep social and economic crisis. Dealing with choice and professional planning with sufficient scientific and methodological rigour is becoming more and more difficult. Very few predictions can be made with high levels of certainty and it is increasingly risky to take on the responsibility of suggesting scenarios, perspectives and opportunities.

The new demanding challenges include unemployment and underemployment risks, job insecurity and mobility, increasingly high rates of flexibility and adaptability needed in today's world of work, and widespread experience of poverty. Thus, it becomes a challenge simply to have to suggest how to handle risks, how to cope with uncertainty, how to accept delayed reinforcements and gratifications, how to transform indecision and uncertainty into opportunities and how to access and utilize new up-to-date cultural instruments.
In order to build a professional future that can positively impact people's quality of life, we must continue to hypothesize how, in spite of everything, people can be helped to persist, to be guided by their own values, interests and aspirations, to persist in pursuit of their own self-determination and personal realization.
The same career adaptability demanded of those we wish to serve is also required of today's career professionals. We must be willing to change and able to adapt to different and increasingly multicultural situations.
All that is and will be expected of everyone, regardless of their training or line of work carried out.

Will Vocational designing or career counseling professionals be ready to provide supports in light of these new challenges?
How are they getting ready to do so?
Which models and practices are most promising today?
Which procedures and instruments ought to be prioritized?
Which involvements and participations should be encouraged and realized?

The organizers and the supporters of this Conference are confident that scholars, researchers, and the vocational design counselors that will come to Padua will be able to formulate new research hypotheses, new ambits and strategies of intervention, thanks to the fruitful international dialogue, debate, and reflection to which they themselves will contribute.

Salvatore Soresi