Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks
Developing partnerships and networks: programme aims
From the beginning of GOAL, adults guidance system in Lithuania was evaluated as fragmented with several networks of guidance providers that interact with each other and with poor coordination at national level and among networks. With GOAL it was aimed to explore what were the existing partnerships of the sites and what partnerships proved to be successful or needed strengthening. It was also expected that broader networks of organisations would be developed.
Existence and scope of partnerships and networks
The intervention sites had partnerships with various organisations and bodies before the GOAL programme that have existed for some time. Some cooperation (e.g. with employers and the Lithuanian Labour Exchange/ Public Employment Service) was quite intensive and regular; other partnerships (e.g. NGOs) could be characterised as fragmented and dependent on project-based funding. The partnerships came from diverse fields (education, employment, NGOs) with local level organisations least represented. The strongest partnerships seem to be those with employment area organisations (Public employment services, Vilnius youth labour centre, employers).
Challenges and barriers
The GOAL programme was mainly built on existing partnerships of the sites. The main challenge of the programme was establishing new sustainable partnerships. In general, new partners (e.g. NGOs, employers, municipal branch) were quite open for suggestions to cooperate, however, practically they were not so active in practical work and cooperation. The least successful were the trials to establish partnership with municipal welfare services. Local policy actors did not see the actual benefit of referring their clients to GOAL services since they were already in close contacts with guidance services of PES.
The main reason for this is that the sites and GOAL programme in general could offer counselling sessions to limited number of clients and no other real and tangible motivation for partners to be active in the project could be offered.
Strengths and achievements
In the run of GOAL existing partnerships have strengthened and new partnerships were established. For example, a partner institution that joined GOAL in Wave 2 confirmed to be ‘fully satisfied with cooperation‘. Participation in GOAL did prove to the sites the importance of having good and settled contacts with referring institutions if they want to keep new clients coming. Programme sites and partners were willing to keep the existing partnership because of the direct benefits they received from it: counselling and training of unemployed people, future staff, second-chance education opportunities for early school leavers, etc. One of the gains of GOAL is that the partnership between the VET institution and adult education centre developed and, importantly, both see the way for more intense cooperation in the future.