Implications for future programme development
Future programs need to be aware of the importance of service user’s readiness. The target group needs both longer and deeper guidance sessions; this has implications for project’s needs in terms of time, personnel and funding. Various complicated issues demand collaboration between different specialists. A coalition agreement regarding referrals is needed in the beginning, since referrals from relevant organisations seems to be the most effective way to reach the target group. A network that allows for the sharing of knowledge and experience is highly valuable. Attention has to be given to counsellor’s competences in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups. Expectations in terms of client’s outcomes need to considered. Just coming to an interview can be a huge step for an individual from the target group. Building confidence, registering into a hobby course, having someone listening and reacting on individual's issues can be highly valuable and lead people forward. It takes time and patience.
Implications of policy
The regulations concerning the job title ‘Career-counsellor’ help to ensure competences and facilitate effective service. Quality standards are in place. This suggest that guidance counsellors in Iceland are capable in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups. Training and lifelong learning among counsellors is important and should enjoy continued support.
The lack of financial resources (such as scholarships, subsidy of learning expenses, a system of payment distribution for courses at the LLL-centres and other educational institutions) creates a systematic barrier for those service users who are ready and willing to take the next step and engage in further education. Lack of funding limits available options for these services users who want to enrol in education. Lack of formal cooperation between stakeholders and LLL-centres before GOAL leads to less knowledge about available resources/services.
Implications for policy
The difficult and complex circumstances that the target group faces demand cooperation between different stakeholders that service the target group. More cooperation on policy level/ministry level could aid the building of a formalised network and the crossing of institutional borders. Policy making needs to be focused on working towards holistic services for the target group.
The sharing of knowledge and expertise between professionals is highly beneficial to everyone involved, and indirectly to service user’s outcomes. This highlights the need for creating a mutual forum, based around regular meetings where dialogs can take place between specialists. An efficient referral system between professionals is needed, so that the target group is referred to educational- and vocational guidance when they have reach the necessary “readiness”.
The target group needs deeper guidance including a focus on their readiness; this requires that funding is available for longer and more interviews. Appropriate educational/career pathways and suitable funding needs to be available. Lack of readiness also implies that patience is needed on the part of policy makers in regards to service users’ outcomes. Improving outcomes for vulnerable adults will require a long-term vision that involves development of counsellor competences and organisational partnerships. Systemic developments could increase the likelihood of clients taking the initial ‘small’ steps required to develop greater confidence, agency and control, which are necessary prerequisites for taking subsequent, larger steps such as enrolling in adult education courses.