A clear and unambiguous definition of the target group is likely to facilitate recruitment and promote efficient collaboration amongst partners. A coalition agreement regarding referrals is needed in the beginning, since referrals from relevant organisations were the most effective way to reach the target group. The lack of willingness to cooperate among companies suggests that agreements regarding collaboration, commitment and partnerships should be in place at the early stages of program development, in order to maximise the efficiency of outreach efforts. Future programs should try to get employers’ commitment earlier, for example by including employer representatives and/or trade union representatives on a steering group. In short, all future programme developments will need to make realistic estimates of the extent of resources needed to bring clients to the programme.
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 the client’s needs. The resolution of difficult personal issues is often a necessary prerequisite before the client can focus on further education. Therefore, a system of referrals between specialists (e.g. social worker, financial advisor, psychologist, physical therapist, educational- and vocational counsellors) is needed if the aim is to meet the client’s needs and provide high quality services. The approach needs to be holistic, which focuses on the individual rather than a specific topic, e.g. job vs learning.
In the GOAL project the use of interpreting services was essential. It became apparent that there was a need to consider standards in connection with competence and ethics among interpreters. This has implications for future program development.
Transparency and open discussion about competence needs and competence development for counsellors is important, especially when gathering knowledge about a new target group and learning what will work for them to meet their needs. Gaining knowledge about the target groups’ needs and the adjustments of the counselling sessions and tools accordingly was an ongoing process in GOAL. Service users’ feedback obtained on regular bases could shed light on what works and what is needed. The sharing of knowledge and resources between programme partners and other stakeholders was mutually beneficial, but time needs to be allotted for mutual understanding and planning of developments. It is crucial that the benefits of a partnership to those involved are clear.
Many clients in the target group lacked initiative and needed a detailed action plan concerning next steps. This might imply that the sessions need to be on a short interval (i.e. occur relatively frequently) to keep the clients motivated. Future programs need to be aware of the importance of service user’s readiness. The target group needed both longer and deeper guidance sessions; these factors have implications for project’s needs in terms of time, personnel and funding. Expectations in terms of clients’ outcomes need to be considered. Ethical issues need to be addressed; it is not ethical to build hopes and expectations among service users if these are impossible to fulfil due to structural issues.
Building and formalising cooperative partnerships/networks with set timelines for meetings and aims, can be very beneficial in order to develop holistic guidance services. Trust needs to be built between partners. There are policy and institutional borders that need to be discussed and addressed. It takes a lot of effort to get organisations and staff joined in creating holistic services and a lot of commitment on behalf of policy makers including all ministries working on issues related to the competence development of the target group. Otherwise the services will remain fragmented. Sustainability issues need to be addressed in the beginning and long term goals defined. From the Icelandic experience, cooperation on all levels is imperative.