Implications of policy
Policymaking linked to joint cooperation on educational guidance for vulnerable groups is lacking. The link between service providers and educational opportunities is fragmented. LLL guidance policies – policies on adult education and validation of prior learning – need to better intertwined and accessible (advertised/promoted). This was addressed by the GOAL project through the formation of the Advisory group. Discussions in the Advisory group shed light on the services provided in different areas by various partners (i.e. social services, PES, Red cross, Prison services, adult education). Institutional borders can create a barrier. There is a need for more collaboration between ministries. The absence of a connection with the healthcare system is possibly reducing the potential success of the service for the target group and creating barriers.
Implications and recommendations for policy
The target group needs deeper guidance including a focus on their readiness; this requires that funding is available for longer and more interviews for the group. Appropriate educational/career pathways and suitable financial resources need to be available to the service user. The issue of funding and subsistence among adult learners needs to be addressed within governmental policymaking. Most adults have financial commitments and can’t afford loss of income while studying. This creates a serious system barrier that needs urgent attention at the highest policy levels.
Training and lifelong learning among counsellors is important and should enjoy continued support. As the findings suggest, the sharing of knowledge and expertise between professionals is highly beneficial to everyone involved, and indirectly to service users. This suggests that the creation and formalisation of a mutual forum with regular meetings where dialogs can take place between specialists would be highly beneficial. The opportunity for peer-learning, the sharing of experience and concerns, creates support and contributes to ongoing competence development in the field.
In light of the increasing number of immigrants using the service of the LLL-centres and other guidance services, the need for interpretation services has increased and is likely to increase even more in the future. It is important to analyse and set competence criteria and ethical standards for interpretation services, translation and adjustment of various tools.
Many of the GOAL clients were not able to take the next step because they lacked the appropriate readiness that was needed for them to move forward. This implies that the creation of an efficient and formal referral system between professionals is needed. The system could ensure that clients within the target group would be referred to Educational- and Vocational Guidance when they have reached the necessary ‘readiness’. Lack of readiness also implies that patience is needed on the part of policy makers with regard to service user outcomes; this requires an understanding of the complex circumstances that the individuals face, and the large amount of time it is likely to achieve outcomes such as completing an education course. Improving outcomes for vulnerable adults will require a long-term vision that involves development of counsellor competences and organisational partnerships.
Through meetings with the advisory group it became evident that a lot of services are being offered to the more vulnerable groups through PES, social services, rehabilitation centres, the Red Cross, prison services and adult learning. There is an existing network around the cooperative partnership of PES and Social Services – cooperation between actors, however, needs to be strengthened and formalised in order to avoid fragmentation and ‘dead-ends’ for the service users (e.g. because of lack of funding and appropriate educational opportunities). Combined efforts could lead to higher quality in the overall aim towards active citizenship and competence development. There is a need for policy to support the expansion of existing networks to include more actors and cooperation aiming at the needs of the target group, i.e. a more holistic career guidance service. Joint policymaking on behalf of the Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and Ministry of Industries and Innovation can initiate and steer the process of connecting systems (e.g. healthcare system, welfare system, educational system, industry-and employment system) that will facilitate and enhance the quality and effectiveness of services offered to more vulnerable groups in the future.
Outreach services could possibly be stronger where there is top-down assistance and cooperation at the policy level regarding identification of efficient services and partnerships for the target group. Policy may be able to provide incentives for employers to invest in their staff by working with projects such as GOAL. The development of a job role for someone in the counselling service to work specifically at company recruitment could be one way of addressing this.
A policy-level network involving a range of ministries (Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Industries and Innovation) needs to be further developed to take the policy lessons learned in the GOAL project further. Most of the GOAL clients (i.e. vulnerable low qualified adults) face complex circumstances that need the attention of different professionals. The results need to be formulated in an action plan to be implemented in close cooperation with various organisation and specialists. The readiness concept needs attention on all levels.