The service users that participated in GOAL were in most cases pleased with the guidance, judging by the satisfaction survey and the follow-up survey. They thought the guidance was motivating, helpful and supplied them with useful information. They also felt the counsellors were dedicated to helping them, competent and professional. The clients within the GOAL target group experienced difficult circumstances and in most cases lacked the initiative and confidence that was needed to improve their situation and thus achieve measurable outcomes such as enrolment in adult education courses. Even so, there were positive (often smaller) outcomes. Most of the clients had been informed about pathways regarding educational- and career development, learning- and employment opportunities. They experienced increased confidence and had a better idea about their future aims. Immigrants within the project were very grateful for the help and the information they got. For most clients the self-efficacy remained the same or improved. Their attitudes to learning improved and they were more aware of their learning/career goals. Most of the clients achieved their aims during the counselling, fully or partially. In the follow-up survey most of the participants felt the guidance had increased their confidence in achieving their goals.
But there were also many hindrances, e.g. lack of time, various health problems and a lack of readiness needed to take the next steps. The immigrants were proportionally more likely to have completed all guidance sessions, which might imply higher level of readiness within that group and different needs or hindrances.
The counsellors felt the guidance had been successful in many ways. They clients seemed to be pleased, they were better aware of their options and new what services were available to them. Even if they didn’t have the necessary readiness to take advantage of opportunities for educational- or career development, the counsellor felt that they had planted seeds that the clients would be able to grow in the future should they reach the appropriate level of readiness. Pushing people that aren’t ready can bring out undesired outcomes. Finding out where the service users are in terms of readiness and taking the guidance from there, being patient and considerate is the most important lesson counsellors learned in connection to service user’s outcomes.
Stakeholders felt the project brought about positive outcomes. Service users seemed to benefit from the guidance. The increased cooperation brought about by the GOAL project, has had positive effects on service users. Interest and willingness for continued cooperation has been generated. However, stakeholders expressed concerns about lack of financial resources and appropriate pathways for the target group, raising hopes that could not be met due to structural barriers.
Important outcomes in the GOAL project were often at the systemic level, particularly in terms of counsellors’ increased competence and the development of collaborative partnership and networks. The enhanced collaboration between different organisations increased the possibility of providing a holistic and well-integrated set of services that address the complex, inter-linked needs of vulnerable adults.
Strengths and achievements
The main strengths in terms of service user’s outcomes was increased motivation and confidence within the group. The clients were more aware of the services available to them and pathways for educational- and career development. Many have begun working towards their competence development – be it personal or professional. Counsellors competence, the effective collaboration with stakeholders, knowledge and information sharing about the target group, available recourses and appropriate methods/tools, have all contributed to positive service user’s outcomes.
Challenges and barriers
The main challenges in connection to service user’s outcomes were inner hindrances and structural barriers. Lack of commitment and readiness resulted in fewer clients being able to take advantage of the opportunities available in education/career development. Resolving complex personal issues, that go beyond the scope of educational- and vocational guidance, are in most cases a necessary prerequisite for further educational/career development. Despite increased access to quality guidance services and counsellor’s competence, lack of available financial resources (e.g. scholarships, subsidy of learning expenses) create a structural barrier when the clients reach the appropriate level of readiness to take the next steps.