Guidance activities and processes
Guidance activities and processes: quantitative findings
The most common reason for seeking guidance among the GOAL service users during both waves of the project, was to explore educational opportunities. Many clients were interested in finding links between personal interest and occupational/educational opportunities. The exploration of educational opportunities was the most common reason for seeking guidance among service users that were employed (full-time/part-time), while the most common reason among unemployed clients was assistance with job-seeking. The service users that had not finished primary school wanted mostly to explore educational opportunities, while the service users with post-secondary education or higher, wanted to get assistance with job-seeking. Most of the service users wanted to explore educational opportunities regardless of target group, the exception was migrants/refugee/asylum-seeker and the detainee. Most of the clients within these target groups wanted mainly to get assistance with job-seeking. The five clients that were over 50 years old, all sought guidance for different reasons.
Collaboration with partner organisations has led to referrals of clients and sharing of knowledge. Referrals have proven to be the most successful way to get participants in the project.
Most younger clients wanted to explore educational opportunities while most of the clients within the oldest age group wanted to get assistance with job-seeking.
The most common type of contact during both waves was face-to-face individual interview, whether it as the first, subsequent or final interview. The sessions ranged from 10 minutes to 180 minutes during the project. The longest initial interview was 150 minutes, while the longest subsequent interview was 180 minutes. The longest final interview was 90 minutes.
The most common type of referral organisation during wave 1, was social services. During wave 2, the most common type of referral organisation was employment services. Most women were referred by employment services, while most men were referred by rehabilitation institutions or social services.
Guidance activities and processes: qualitative findings
The counsellors experienced support from their managers at the programme sites of the GOAL project. The project fitted well with other organisational remits even though the guidance was in some ways different from traditional educational and vocational guidance sessions (i.e. the research element of the project, longer and more thorough sessions, different target group and outreach measures).
As discussed in the section on service user characteristics, the aim in the GOAL project in Iceland was to reach out to a vulnerable group of people. Therefore, the target group in the GOAL project in Iceland was very challenging and many of the service users had limited work history. Most of them had a psychological diagnosis or learning difficulties and disabilities (e.g. ADHD, dyslexia), some of them had a long history of drug abuse, and many had severe health issues, whether mental, physical or social, or some combination thereof. The GOAL programme staff in Iceland felt that due to these complex issues many of the service users were not ready to take courses at this stage, and these issues needed to be dealt with first or at least simultaneously if they were to be able to participate in adult learning. These results were supported by the fact that about half of the clients sought guidance to get help with personal issues and the focus of the session was, over half the time, personal issues and barriers.
According to the counsellors a large part of their guidance involved self-esteem and confidence building. This included assisting the clients with finding out what were their strengths and what they would like to do in the future and motivating them to follow through.
Due to the vulnerability of the GOAL target group in Iceland confidentiality, trust, sincerity and understanding was of utmost importance. Thoughtfulness and tactfulness were highly important. It was also necessary to adjust the conversations and the tasks that were undertaken during the sessions. According to the counsellors it was important to speak in short and simple sentences or you risked losing the client’s attention. Many of the service users had limited self-initiative and therefore it was not enough to make suggestion about what could take place in subsequent sessions. In order to get results there had to be a defined and formed action-plan in place. Even though most of the clients were not yet ready to take the next steps towards further education the counsellors felt that the guidance was successful because they were planting seeds that the clients would hopefully be able to grow in the future.
The sessions in the GOAL project were different from traditional guidance sessions at the programme sites. The main reason for this was that the sessions with GOAL service users were longer and more thorough than traditional sessions, the service users were more vulnerable and had a different level of readiness, means of reaching them were also different. During traditional educational and vocational guidance, the clients seek the service at the programme sites on their own accord but in the GOAL project the counsellors were reaching out to potential clients, which also made GOAL activities different.
According to the counsellors, the Monitoring Data Template was a good tool to open the discussion and gather important and detailed information. It also often gave the client food for thought for the next interview.