Implications for future programme development
When developing a high-quality service for a target group with highly complex needs, every aspect of the service/programme must take those needs into account. The program has to be flexible and responsive to client needs. The approach needs to be holistic, which focuses on the individual rather than a specific topic. Counsellors may also need to develop competences that enable them to meet the target groups’ needs effectively. Strong interpersonal skills are required, as are flexibility and responsiveness to client’s needs. The sharing of knowledge and resources between programme partners is important, as is establishing cooperation with other professionals that service the target group. A system of referrals needs to be in place. Extensive knowledge of recourses among other service providers is likely to enhance service quality and program effectiveness. Ethical issues need to be addressed; in particular, it is not appropriate to build hopes and expectations among service users that are impossible to fulfil due to lack of structural and financial support for these clients.
Implications of policy
The lack of a financial resources (e.g. scholarships, subsidy of learning expenses, payment distribution for the cost of education) creates system barriers at the policy level when the clients have reached the appropriate readiness to take the next steps in educational-/career development. There is a lack of transparency on links between the adult educational system and the formal educational system in Iceland. Lack of financial means and transparency affects the quality of the service.
The quality of the career guidance delivered is high, although not many services were being provided to this target group at the LLL centres. A lot of services are in place, however, through the PES, social services and other actors focusing on personal issues. The focus there is not always directly on educational/competence development. More cooperation is needed between relevant stakeholders and different ministries representatives if the aim is to deliver a holistic high-quality service to the target group.
Implications for policy
The sharing of knowledge, experience and effective methods/tools between different professionals that service the target group and its positive overall effect on competence development, service quality and outcomes, has implications on the policy level.
Closer cooperation is needed at policy level, with a focus of meeting the needs and facilitating the development of the individual. Roles of and borders between actors need to be discussed in this context, and it is important to overcome the influence of policy silos, in which the focus is not the whole individual but different policy areas. An efficient referral system between professionals, so that the target group is referred to educational- and vocational guidance when they have reach the necessary ‘readiness’. The aim should be high quality holistic services for the service users through common efforts. Service user feedback obtained on regular bases can shed light on what works and what is needed to both maintain or enhance quality services.
Counsellor’s, program partner’s and stakeholder’s worries regarding raising expectations in the face of resource scarcity highlights an important policy issue. One role of policy is to increase individual agency and raise human capital; however, a complementary policy responsibility is to support the development of systems that enable individuals to act on their agency and take advantage of (and further develop) their human capital. The target group needs deeper guidance including a focus on their readiness, this requires that funding is available for longer and more interviews. Financial resources and appropriate learning-/career pathways need to be in place and attainable. These system barriers need to be resolved if the aim is to offer an effective and high quality service to the target group.