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Title: Review of career guidance policies in 11 acceding and candidate countries
Authors: Sultana, Ronald G.
Keywords: Vocational guidance -- European Union countries
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities
Citation: Sultana, R.G. (2003). Review of career guidance policies in 11 acceding and candidate countries. European Training Foundation. Luxembourg.
Abstract: The provision of career information and guidance throughout a citizen’s life has become an issue of great importance worldwide, as societies prepare themselves to meet the challenges that the transition to knowledge-based economies represents. An unprecedented research effort has in fact been initiated by the OECD, which has distributed a dedicated questionnaire to 14 countries internationally in order to create a baseline of information on the current state of policy development in career guidance. That same survey instrument has been used by CEDEFOP to gather data on the remaining EU countries, and by the ETF in relation to 11 ACCs . The World Bank has initiated a parallel review in a number of middle-income countries, again using the OECD questionnaire. The thematic review by these key partners will lead to the development of the most extensive harmonised international database ever on guidance policy and practice. This synthesis report summarises the state of play in the development of career information and guidance in both the education and labour market sectors in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Experts from each of these countries have written a report, structured around the OECD survey and on the basis of their own knowledge of the field, often following extensive consultation with key partners. The broad purpose of this exercise is, first of all, to provide an account of the most recent and most significant developments, trends, challenges and major issues, as well as the strengths and weaknesses, of national career information and guidance systems and policies, in such a way as to render the data susceptible to comparative analysis. Secondly, the synthesis report aims to facilitate the generation of benchmarks, enabling the countries that participated in the review to gauge how well they are doing in career information and guidance provision in relation to other comparable countries, and to facilitate the sharing of good practice. Thirdly, the report should prove to be a useful tool for the development of policy, particularly as ACCs have acknowledged the centrality of lifelong learning in their strategic response to the challenges of integration in the global economy generally, and in the EU more specifically, and the value of career information and guidance throughout life for citizens within that context. The synthesis report consists of six sections, which closely follow the OECD outline in order to facilitate comparison between the different reports once these become available. In the Annex, experts responsible for writing up the detailed country reports have contributed a summary providing an overview of the key elements of the national arrangements for careers information and guidance, outlining the strengths, weaknesses, issues and challenges for their systems. The first section provides a background to the Commission’s involvement in the career information and guidance review. It also outlines briefly the geopolitical, economic and cultural contexts of the 11 countries surveyed, particularly in so far as these impact on career guidance provision. The second section focuses on the policy challenges for career information and guidance in terms of national objectives. The latter include the upgrading of the knowledge and skills base of the population, with a view to addressing unemployment, to meeting the demands of knowledge-based economies, and to ensuring that the labour supply and demand are in harmony. Another set of challenges arises from a social policy context that seeks to ensure equitable distribution of education and employment opportunities, with guidance services having a key role to play as active measures in combating early school leaving, facilitating the integration of at-risk groups in both education and the labour market, and reducing poverty. Governments in ACCs – and to a lesser extent, the private sector – have acknowledged the important contribution that career guidance can make in reaching these educational, employment and social objectives, and indeed have launched several initiatives to underscore their commitment to the cause. Nevertheless, while the discourse around career guidance has intensified, it appears that in some cases that discourse has outstripped practice, and plans tend to suffer from a lack of implementation. The third section constitutes the heart of the report, as it considers several aspects that contribute to the more effective delivery of career guidance. An initial focus is the services provided in the education sector. Here attention is given to the extent to which guidance is a stand-alone activity offered infrequently and at key transition and decision-making points, which seems to be the key modality of provision when compared to other models where guidance issues permeate the curriculum. Attention is also given to the initiatives that help to connect the school with the world of work; to the instruments used in delivering guidance; to the groups that are targeted; and to the education sectors where services are non-existent (namely primary schooling), or where they are most present (secondary level), or where they are on the increase (tertiary level, including universities). A second focus is on the employment sector, and the extent to which adults receive guidance as they negotiate occupational and further education and training trajectories in a lifelong learning society. The synthesis report highlights the fact that most adult guidance is offered in the context of public employment services, and that it tends to be remedial in nature, narrowly targeted at unemployed people, with the immediate goal of finding them employment. Other key trends noted are the lack of cross-sectorial collaboration, and the minor involvement of the private sector in the provision of adult guidance, where at best they function as job-brokerage services. One aspect of guidance that has witnessed a great deal of development in most ACCs is the use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to ensure more effective and widespread provision of education- and career-related information to the community. There is also a gradual trend to increased input and involvement by stakeholders, and to a shift in the modality of service whereby clients are provided with the resources to assess their needs and aspirations, and to match these with employment opportunities. A key issue cutting across the whole of this section is the lack of a sound evidence base that would permit the evaluation of the effectiveness of the guidance service in reaching its objectives. Section four considers the human and financial resources dedicated to career guidance. In most ACCs, staff involved in offering guidance services have a higher level of education – often in psychology or the humanities – though not all have had specialised pre-service training in the field. Trends include increased opportunities for in-service training, and the gradual professionalisation of career guidance through the specification of entry and qualification routes, the articulation of clearly defined occupational roles, the drawing up of a formal code of ethics, and the formation of associations and networks that may have a research and training function. Most ACCs report that the profession tends to attract women in the main, and that the qualifications and training routes for staff employed in the education sector tend to be different from those for staff engaged in the employment sector. The information about the financial resources allocated to career guidance is extremely sketchy and inconclusive. Most of the budget for careers information and guidance services comes from the state, with few ACCs reporting any substantial investment in the activity by the private sector. Section five synthesises the observations made by experts from the ACCs in terms of the strategic leadership that is exercised in the field of career guidance, and of how this could be strengthened. Despite the fact that there have been several noteworthy developments, a general conclusion that can be drawn is that there is a need for stronger mechanisms to provide coordination and leadership in articulating strategies for lifelong access to guidance within a national policy framework that is both dynamic and adequately resourced. As things stand at the moment, career guidance still tends to be seen by governments as a marginal activity. There is also much scope for a more vigorous role for the private sector and stakeholders, in a field where, curiously, trade union input seems to be particularly weak. Little evaluation is carried out to monitor quality in service provision, or to measure effectiveness, particularly in relation to specific performance targets and outputs. While examples of good practice exist in a number of the countries surveyed, a more robust evidence base is required if guidance is to be provided in a way that responds to the distinct needs of a differentiated clientele. Section six provides a concluding note identifying the main challenges as well as the way forward for career guidance in the countries surveyed. While none of the ACCs on its own holds the key for addressing the most pressing issues that are identified, collectively they certainly provide a rich thesaurus of good practice from which policy-makers and practitioners can draw inspiration.
ISBN: 9291573493
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Scholarly Works - FacEduES

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