Key findings

Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks

Developing partnerships and networks: programme aims

The aim of strengthening local partnerships in Flanders was to more firmly embed the GOAL-service within the existing services and to show the usefulness of GOAL to these other services, by further developing GOAL’s complementarity with these existing services. Furthermore, the project aimed to create stronger recognition of the GOAL-service as added value to the other services at all levels of the local partner organisations in order to increase referrals and to build a basis for further structural development of the collaboration.

Different types of activities have been carried out to reach these aims such as meetings with and presentations to staff members of the partner organisations at different level to raise awareness about the GOAL-service and to create more structural collaboration. Also an online appointment system has been implemented and the use of it promoted to the partners organisations for making appointments with a GOAL-counsellor.

Existence and scope of partnerships and networks

Partnerships and networks of De Stap and De Leerwinkel are situated in five domains:

  1. Education

  2. Local Policy

  3. Welfare

  4. Employment

  5. Migration and Civic Integration

Partnerships are essential to the Flemish GOAL services. These partnerships are necessary for financial support, the referral of clients, and the exchange of knowledge and knowhow. Stakeholders all agree that GOAL should be structurally embedded in the policy domain of Education, on a supra-local level, if the GOAL service wants to be acknowledged as a relevant partner. However it’s noted that there should be collaborations with other policy domains such as Employment, Welfare and Migration.

Challenges and barriers

There’s no overall consensus between potential organisations about the relevance, quality and added value of the GOAL service: some organisations seem to doubt whether guidance to training and education is necessary, while others believe that they can provide GOAL-type services as well.

Up till now, there is no collaboration between GOAL services and trade unions or employer organisations. It would be an interesting opportunity to explore collaboration in this area. The scope of the GOAL project however did not have the capacity to start-up these kind of collaboration structures from scratch.

Reciprocal partnerships are essential for ‘warm transfers’. Such partnerships reduce the likelihood that clients have to explain their situation completely again, by facilitating the  sharing of crucial information such as the client’s employment or social support status. Intensive collaborations should make this happen, while embedding different services at one location could also potentially promote warm transfer.

When referring clients to one another, exchange of client information would be useful. However, this requires:

  • A shared client registration system that could be accessed by different counsellors from different organisations

  • Approval by clients to share this kind of personal information.

The biggest challenge and threat for the GOAL project is the lack of structural embedment. This absence hinders a long term perspective and makes it difficult for organisations to establish themselves as sustainable partners. Moreover, lack of structural embedment hampers GOAL services in gaining funding, in providing sustainable guidance, and in maintaining and developing partnerships.

Although one department (Education) will have to carry final responsibility, other departments (Welfare, Migration, Work) do have to share the mission and vision of a GOAL service and are jointly responsible for the promotion and effectiveness of the service.

GOAL is a shared supra-local and local responsibility. Only in this way can GOAL services be available to all adult learners (and not only to those who live in the city of Ghent or the province of West Flanders). However, this requires a political commitment at the level of the Flemish government. Up to now, this commitment appears to be lacking.

Strengths and achievements

Partnerships and an elaborated professional network are elementary to GOAL service providers, for:

  • financial support

  • interaction with organisations in the field of welfare, education, employment and migration for referring clients, and for exchanging knowhow and knowledge.

  • growing awareness within the partner organisations of the importance of GOAL at local and at Flemish level and increase of referrals (especially PES).

During the GOAL project term, both de Stap and de Leerwinkel succeeded in strengthening their partnerships further. This resulted in increased referrals.

More and more partner organisations seem to be convinced of the complementarity and uniqueness of the service provided by GOAL.

Although during the term of the GOAL project, there has been no evolution in the political commitment towards GOAL-services, the project gave an impulse to develop a policy paper that lays down a blueprint for the implementation of GOAL services in Flanders. This policy paper is being discussed with all members of the GOAL advisory committee (with the involvement of representatives of different policy domains at Flemish level) and an endorsement of these members will be sought in order to stimulate political support.



"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."

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“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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