Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks
Developing partnerships and networks: programme aims
In regards to partnership and networks, the aim was to establish or improve networks and partnerships with relevant organisations. The building of sustainable partnerships that were optimally equipped to identify and reach target groups. The aim was also to raise awareness and inform network partners on the educational guidance services they offer. Unfortunately plans to establish partnerships with companies in the private sector were not realised.
Existence and scope of partnerships and networks
The formation of partnerships took time, but went well and all parties were pleased with the increased collaboration. The slight overlaps between services did not appear to cause problems across services, thanks to good communication between GOAL and partner organisations, and the good will of all parties. The sharing of knowledge and experience benefitted everyone. The programme partners, policymakers and programme staff think that further implementation of a formalised collaborative network is desirable and could benefit everyone involved in the future. The program partners also felt that the healthcare system should have a presence when finding ways to reach and service the more vulnerable groups in society.
Challenges and barriers
It took time to find common understanding about how the program could benefit all parties involved. Cooperation was very beneficial once established. The GOAL project has highlighted both the need and willingness to formalise cross-organisational collaboration. The main challenge has to do with the next steps of formalising a cross-organisational network between different institutions and systems, that are involved with the target group. This requires comprehensive policy-making within and between the relevant sectors (e.g. welfare- healthcare- and educational sector). The absence of the healthcare system within these collaborations is possibly reducing the potential success of the service and creating barriers.
Attempts were made to form a collaboration with large manufacturing companies during the GOAL project. The aim was to offer low-qualified employees, with little formal education, participation in the project. Nothing came of these attempts, as support from upper management levels was lacking. One of the future challenges will be to form an effective connection between the adult learning system and the company sector in Iceland.
The proximity of the service providers to potential service users, enhances the effectiveness of the service. In light of that the location of Mimir can be a challenge. The implementation of a collaborative network with frequent consultation meetings to strengthen the connection between relevant institutions in the area could be beneficial. The formation of new collaborative liaisons can be time-consuming. It seems to depend on organisational roles and the structure of the institutions involved (e.g. communication channelling).
Strengths and achievements
The development of existing and new partnerships was based on the fact that the service users were to a large extent drawn from vulnerable groups who face many challenges. The programme partners feel that the meetings that were held in connection to the project, about tools, methods and strategy, were very valuable and benefited everyone involved, including, indirectly, the clients. Mutual learning took place between the partner organisations and valuable information sharing for the competence development of the counsellors in the project.
The majority of the service users have not sought educational- and vocational guidance within the adult educational system on their own initiative. A vast majority of the clients in the GOAL project were referred to the counselling by cooperative organisations and institutions that were already servicing the target group. The adult educational system didn’t seem to have the most effective way of reaching out to the group. Thus, through effective collaboration the GOAL project has highlighted the need for a cross-organisational referral system.
Networks are more readily formed now due to the building of bridges during the GOAL project. Relevant organisations are more aware of each other’s roles and the services offered by the LLL-centres. Organisational borders are not as prominent and mutual interest has developed for extensive interdisciplinary cooperation, that aims to strengthen the service to the target group.