Implications for future programme development
Clients liked the fact that learning services were in the same location as guidance services. Therefore, if clients in the future were to be advised in one location and attend learning in another, the guidance service should ensure a smooth exchange of information with education providers (i.e. information that client was referred and a guarantee that the learning programme is available to client). Low-educated persons may in many cases be highly sensitive to any barriers, and are at increased risk of dropping out when barriers are encountered. There is thus a need for seamlessness between services.
Clients benefit from a service model based on providing more than one session per client (on average), as additional sessions may help in the provision of information about next steps, and may help clients to reflect on and negotiate barriers, structural and otherwise.
The results of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Survey of Adult Skills revealed poor Lithuanian results on the problem-solving in technology rich environment (i.e. poor usage of ICT and its practical application). These poor results, along with evidence gathered from clients during interviews and the follow-up survey, suggest that low-educated adults may struggle to use online guidance resources, unless these resources are specifically designed for this target group. This potential challenge highlights the need for face-to-face counselling for this target group.
Implications of policy
Policy actors, programme staff and partners acknowledged current adult guidance system is rather fragmented, with underdeveloped mutual links and exchange of information. This puts a risk on service quality. Because of competition for learners amongst education institutions and no targeted funding for counselling services, counselling appears to have a strong focus on attracting potential learners to particular education institutions. Counselling thus runs the risk of being institution-centered rather than client-centered. The neutral and independent character of the service should be regarded as one of the important quality criteria.
Implications for policy
The GOAL experience showed that GOAL sites without additional funding and clear mandate would not be capable of providing high-quality guidance services targeted exclusively to low-educated/ low-skilled adults. The relatively high cost of counselling services per client may have implications for policymakers’ ability and willingness to support GOAL or similar programmes in the future, after EU funding has ceased. The decisions regarding expanding services should be based on the needs analysis including analysis of overall current institutional framework and actual costs-benefit analysis. In estimating costs of the system ESF spending on counselling services within PES and actual gains should be taken into account.
Counselling for adult learners can only be effective if combined with other incentives like active employment policy with measures for integrating vulnerable groups back to the labour market. If there is no offer of further training, courses and programmes, or financial incentives, the counselling itself is unlikely to have sustainable effects.