The main reason for the end of guidance sessions was that in the Lithuanian programme model clients have finished planned number of sessions (either one in Wave 1 or more than two in Wave 2) this shows that the sites managed to avoid dropping out of the sessions.
According to clients the result of the session was that information was provided about what to study and where; development of a personal action plan; interest inventory; assessment of key competences and consulting about financial assistance for learning.
In general service users assessed the outcomes of the guidance sessions positively. They felt that after the counselling session(s) a larger share of clients felt that the next steps were clearer (53%) and the counselling helped them to plan what to do next (54%), they felt more motivated (74%) and more aware of education and training options (64%) and were determined to follow up on the advice given by the counsellor (59%). The least positive assessment was given to the awareness on job options (43%). Only two of 31 clients reached in follow-up survey did not agree that counselling helped them to be more confident about achieving goals.
Quantitative data indicated a high level of achievement of clients’ guidance objectives where out of fifty Wave 2 clients only two (4%) did not take the steps they hoped for when they came for guidance. A larger progress in achieving goals was observed for education related goals.
The positive assessments from clients of the service outcomes suggest that the GOAL service is of good quality and that the professionalism of staff is high. In addition to the obvious ‘hard’ outcomes of sessions (getting necessary information and referring to training) service users reported additional unexpected (‘soft’) benefits: e.g. after the sessions their self-esteem had increased and they became more motivated for positive changes in their life. This is also confirmed by staff, who indicated that the sessions, particularly for younger people, helped clients to regain self-confidence and form a positive attitude about themselves and society.
Strengths and achievements
The main achievement of the programme is definitely positive outcomes of clients: ‘soft’ outcomes related to empowerment of clients, change in self-esteem and self-confidence and ‘harder’ outcomes related to enrolment to training courses, finding a job, change of employment status. Even though the data from clients does not allow to conclude that majority of clients reached ‘hard’ and measurable outcomes, still soft outcomes are just as important. For example, the monitoring data showed that majority of clients were very certain about the increased motivation after counselling compared to statements about other outcomes. From the client perspective we can evaluate that positive outcomes especially when they are clearly manifested in softer outcomes are influenced by a high level of staff dedication and commitment - 98% of the clients were satisfied with their contact with counsellor. We should remember that absolute majority of GOAL clients were in counselling for the first time and their positive experiences just proves that there is a high demand of services.
Challenges and barriers
Still rather a substantial part of clients have assessed that they were not fully confident if the next steps were clearer after the counselling session, that the counselling helped to plan next steps, that job options were clearer and that they would follow up on the advice given by the counsellor. One-fifth of clients claimed that they just partially took steps they hoped to. Similar assessments about partial achievement of goals were given during follow-up survey. This situation proves that clients’ positive experiences of GOAL do not necessarily mean they will achieve their desired outcomes; for many clients, there are significant barriers – attitudinal, situational, and more – to overcome.