Background and aims
Counsellors in the Czech Republic are skilled professionals and steps have been taken to provide further training to staff so that they are up to date on current trends and methods in career guidance and how these can be applied with the GOAL target group. Clients were on the whole very satisfied with the competences their counsellors display.
None of the counsellors is able to spend a 100% of their time working with clients because there is no external support in client acquisition, PR activities, marketing etc. Counsellors are responsible for these activities and they have to travel to clients, negotiate with suitable stakeholders and partners and inform them about project activities at the regional level. This may present a challenge to ensuring that counsellors are trained and developed in the full range of competences required. In particular, counsellors would likely benefit from more administrative support in the future.
On the other hand, it is quite obvious that counsellors are perceived as competent and they received very good rating from their clients. The majority of the clients in both Olomouc and Most reported positively about the professional competency of their counsellors. Clients were mostly satisfied with the clear explanations regarding the content and focus of the sessions. They declared that they got answers to their questions during the sessions and they got useful and helpful information throughout the guiding session.
Working as a career advisor should always involve a set of skills, knowledges and personal attributes that counsellors constantly improve. An essential part of the work of the counsellor is to keep learning, which goes hand in hand with training and improving theoretical and practical knowledges (technique, practical training, and supervision).
While working with at-risk groups, there is an important role of long-term experience in field and skills related to managing crisis situations in the counselling process.
Achieving high standards of counselling competence
Programme staff were asked about the GOAL-specific training they received prior to the start of the pilot. According to counsellors, they appreciate this training and receiving information about current trends and methods in career guidance with respect to target group. The general framework of these procedures has been respected during each session (personal values, communication values, approaches, use of certain tools etc.). According to findings from interviews, these competences can be improved by training, literature research, practice and experience. There is also a possibility of obtaining professional qualifications within the NSK system. Partners and policymakers stated there is a need of formalization of competences career advisor should have: they have discussed possibilities within the existing scope and models – such as using the existing programmes aimed at career guidance within the NSK system, then cooperation with faculties and other relevant stakeholders has been mentioned as well.
Challenges and barriers
Regional counsellors were not 100% focused on career guidance, they had to deal with administration, establishing the partnership networks in the regions, promotion, client acquisition, reporting. In order to improve their competences in career guidance they should be given more administrative support.