Implications for future programme development
If GOAL services will be offered or further developed/extended in the future, following key elements should be taken into account:
For counselling, a broad range of competences is needed. Currently the career guidance sector, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has developed a formal competence profile for career counsellors. Many of the competences in this profile are applicable to the GOAL counsellors. This profile could be the basis for a formal competence profile for educational counsellors in the future, in case the service will be structurally established, taking into account the formal processes of competence profile development in Flanders.
As counsellors have a different educational background (no specific educational programs for career or educational counsellors are in place in Flanders) and as clients all have different backgrounds and personal problems (more or less related to educational issues), the role of informal learning and peer learning has proved to be very important to the counsellors. There are no training institutions that provide adapted training based on the specific training needs of the counsellors.
In case of the structural development of the GOAL service, a back office should take up the task of facilitating exchange between counsellors in a more structural way but also to encourage informal learning and exchange on daily basis as was done during the GOAL experimentation. Furthermore, a structural service with a back office could support more structural staff development plans and organize tailor-made training (by own experts or external trainer trainers).
GOAL-counselling implies a lot more than individual contact sessions with clients. In case of the structural development of the GOAL service, those back office tasks (client registration, networking, interaction with colleagues and professionals of partner organisations, …) must be taken into account.
Implications of policy
Concerning counsellors’ competences, the biggest implications of policy are:
The non-existence of a detailed competence profile as an orientation point for job descriptions, staff evaluations etc. However, following the development of a competence profile for career counsellors, there is an opportunity to start working on this basis in order present a competence profile for educational counsellors.
The lack of educational programs for further training and development of skills focused on providing educational guidance to adults.
Implications for policy
In case of the structural development of the GOAL service, policy makers should have in mind that the caseload of counsellors cannot be reduced to face-to face contacts. Client related administration, follow-up contacts (micro-contacts), but also general administration, human recourses related tasks, networking and communicating with other services and in service training are part of the workload of the counsellors. Policy must pay attention to the broad spectrum of educational guidance related tasks and provide sufficient resources to complete these tasks.
If a GOAL service is structurally developed in the future, an adaptation of the competence profile for career guidance counsellors can be a supportive instrument for HR-management (basis for job profiles, staff evaluations, …).