Project GOAL

This website presents the project GOAL evaluation results. GOAL stands for Guidance and Orientation for Adult Learners. It is an Erasmus+ funded project that sought to develop new models or expand existing models of guidance and orientation for low-educated adults in six countries: Belgium (Flanders), Czech Republic, Iceland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Slovenia. Project GOAL ran from February 2015 to January 2018, and was coordinated by the Flemish Government’s Department of Education and Training. The evaluation was carried out by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in partnership with local evaluation teams in each country. 

Key Findings

guidance activities

The aim of Project GOAL was to develop or expand guidance and orientation interventions for low-educated adults. Within this shared aim, the six participating countries were able to develop the guidance service model(s) best suited to the starting points of their potential clients, the context and needs of these clients, and the wider institutional and policy landscape in which the programme would operate. Although the GOAL programmes were therefore all different to each other, the descriptions of guidance activities and processes presented in this chapter highlight a number of principles and practices shared by most:

  1. The service would be client-centred.
  2. Following from this, the service on offer would not be generic, but rather would be custom-fit to the clients’ needs and his or her personal circumstances. In other words, although guidance sessions might follow a rough general structure, individual pathways would show great variety.
  3. The client would be encouraged to be an active participant, and supported to take a lead in the guidance process.
  4. Given the complexity of the education and training information landscape, information sharing would be a key feature of each programme. However, the services would do more than provide information; the client would be supported by counsellors to use this information and motivated by the counsellor to achieve the outcome that best suited his or her situation.
  5. Most guidance sessions would be face-to-face meetings between an individual counsellor and an individual client.

All the above features would require counsellors to be flexible and adaptable.

Beginning with the foundations of the guidance services being provided through GOAL, two countries (Flanders and Lithuania) were building on and seeking to further fine tune previous guidance efforts aimed at GOAL target groups. Two countries (Iceland and Slovenia) were building on previously existing guidance services, but were expanding the services from less disadvantaged groups to GOAL target groups. The Netherlands intended to roll out a previously existing service (the Literacy Screener) to new regions and partners. The Czech Republic was launching a new initiative.

In the Czech Republic, Lithuania and the Netherlands it was planned that there would be one guidance or orientation session only for each client. The programme models in Flanders, Iceland and Slovenia allowed for several guidance sessions with no set limit on number, or length, or rules on frequency. As the programmes went into the field it became clear that the single session model was more appropriate for clients who had a good level of motivation and could be specific about the “next step”. Those who were less sure about where they were heading or who struggled to make progress usually needed two or three sessions with the counsellor in order to clarify and concretise their aims. A third category of client required multiple sessions, as the range of needs and barriers that had to be addressed or overcome was complex and often personal. A consequence of this finding was that the programme model in Lithuania changed in Wave 2 so that some clients could have one or more additional sessions.

Three challenges emerged in the course of programme implementation. Firstly, in a client-centred programme the structure and content of the guidance is shaped by the level of “readiness” the individual client has to embark on counselling. Where clients lack motivation, lack direction, or have particularly vulnerable or chaotic lives, this impacts both on the level of programme resource needed and on the likelihood of a positive outcome. Second, programmes can only be as “custom fit” as programme resources allow. Not every GOAL service was able to offer clients as many sessions as were truly needed to build a relationship of trust or to make a change. Third, tensions may emerge where client-led services operate in an institution-led framework. The GOAL pilots in Iceland and in Flanders were able to offer guidance and orientation independent of any institutional affiliation: indeed, in Flanders this was a raison d’etre for the service. The pilots in Lithuania and in two of the four Slovenian intervention sites were associated with the educational providers where the services were housed, which may have limited progression pathways but also meant counsellors were extremely familiar with the available education and training options.



"GOAL interview: a client came to discuss a program for validation of employability skills, in which she is going to participate."

"In-house discussions with other counsellors and project managers on an unexpected issue with a student. We tried to solve the issue together. We had to contact another school."


“Presentation for unemployed people about possibilities to get involved into the Goal project and get free of charge orientation and guidance.”

“Orientation and guidance of adult people. 2 clients are consulted: they are unemployed and have plans for learning a new profession in order to find a job.“


“The prison population and educational needs of the detainees are far from homogeneous.”

 “Usually, there are 6 to 8 detainees at a time, each with an individual program. I guide them. The guidance can be focused on basic education, vocational education or specific courses detainees are taking at that time”


"Working with clients gives me energy and brings me joy, because between individual sessions I can see progress, changes, new beliefs, enrolment in education programmes and I can build good relationships with my clients."


"The feeling that I do a lot of good for my clients is priceless."

Czech Republic
Czech Republic

“At the start of every session, counsellors try to gather information about the client, his or her position within the family and wider friendship circles, and his or her health. They also explore the client’s feelings, ideas and motivation.”

“Based on the client’s answers, the counsellor selects ways to proceed in order to meet the client’s needs and goals.”


"All information, agreements made and steps taken during sessions are written down in the registration system"

“Even the names of persons clients have been talking about are registered in order to remember the whole communication line and, more importantly, to avoid them having to say things twice. It creates a sense of trust with our clients.”


from clients, counsellors and stakeholders


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