Guidance activities and processes
Guidance activities and processes: quantitative findings
GOAL is only available to adults living in the province of West Flanders (de Leerwinkel) or the city of Ghent (de Stap). In other parts of Flanders, very few similar services exist, and only on a small scale.
Based on our analysis of data from the client monitoring system, it is clear that GOAL is more than informing clients about different possibilities and different educational institutes. GOAL encompasses all different aspects of identifying a suitable course or training programme and enrolling in this programme. Yet, the main reason for seeking guidance is to explore educational opportunities. Socio-demographic characteristics of the clients, like gender, residence status or target group, do not have any impact on the main reason to seek guidance. Age however, does: the youngest age group (18-22 years) are looking more for links between personal interests and occupational opportunities, probably linked to their recent experience of demotivation and failure in education, often due to lack of interest or wrong study choice.
An average guidance session takes about an hour, although guidance sessions at de Stap are almost a half-hour longer (26 minutes). The difference in the average length of the session can be linked to both organisation’s vision on the guidance approach: de Stap addresses personal issues and/or barriers related to guidance in a more active way, while de Leerwinkel only focuses on personal context factors if they are directly linked to participating in education and if the client takes the initiative to bring an issue up.
A substantial part (44% of clients) participated in one session only. Another large part of the clients ends up coming back for a second or third session (39%), while a smaller portion needs four or more sessions. The first session is considerably longer (especially at de Leerwinkel) than the other sessions as this session includes an intake interview and description of the educational landscape or educational opportunities.
The majority of the sessions result in being informed about formal qualifications or formal education courses.
Results of the sessions reflect the different approaches and emphases of both organisations. It can be stated that the vision of both the organisations have a strong influence on what happens in the sessions and on the length of the session. There is however no quantitative evidence that one approach is more effective in terms of client outcomes than the other.
The most important contact type in the guidance is face-to-face but to support the guidance process, the counsellor uses different kind of communication means such as e-mail, phone, What’s App, Facebook/Messenger, in particular at de Stap. These contacts are used to follow-up on the client’s progress or barriers. The use of social media has been assessed by the counsellors of de Stap as extremely useful to stay in touch with the client and it fits in with their approach of close following-up of clients to keep them motivated.
Most of the clients find their way to the service by referral. The referral stems primarily from the (un)employment services, social (welfare) services, educational support services and integration services. Not all partners are however as important to de Stap as they are to de Leerwinkel, and vice versa. This is mainly linked to the historical evolution of both organisation’s and the network that they have built before the project.
Guidance activities and processes: qualitative findings
Both de Stap and de Leerwinkel base their approach on the premise that clients should take the lead in decision making, in every case and every session. Both organisations deliver a custom-fit service. One cannot conclude that a standard approach for educational guidance surfaces from the GOAL project. Yet, the guidance process is roughly divided into three phases: intake & information mediation, guidance, choice and follow-up These phases have been identified throughout the GOAL-project and have been described in a flow chart to provide extra support to counsellors in the process.
A major difference in approach between the two services is that de Stap follows up on its clients after they enrol in education. De Leerwinkel chooses to transfer this responsibility to the educational organisation where the client enrolled. Staff members of de Leerwinkel say that limited resources do not allow for an extensive follow-up. However, they are convinced that a follow-up approach is beneficial in preventing a total drop-out in case the student has made a wrong choice or experiences (new) learning barriers. Ideally, the counselling of GOAL clients is taken over by student mentors within educational institutes from the moment the GOAL client has enrolled in a course. However, staff members of de Stap stress that those student mentors have to follow-up on too many students to be able to provide the intensive guidance more vulnerable learners need.
Although GOAL seeks to help low educated adults to enter into appropriate educational programmes, the guidance is also directed towards self-reliance.