Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks
Implications for future programme development
The following factors influence the quality of collaboration/ partnerships: clear goals of partnership, clear objectives and roles of partners, shared interests of all parties, willingness to cooperate, and the availability of funding. In order to build and sustain effective partnerships, the benefits of cooperation must be clear to all partners. Failure to do so represents a serious challenge to future programme development, as guidance is only one of several competing interests that potential partners share.
The research also emphasised that the sustainability of partnerships is dependent on financial mechanisms being in place to support these partnerships. The Lithuanian GOAL project builds on existing partnerships, which should mean these partnerships are sustainable beyond the life of the programme, but there may be an impact on the quality of the partnerships. Future programme development will have to consider carefully how sustainable partnerships can be built especially with local policy level organisations and NGOs, give the importance of partnerships and networks to each stage of the guidance process.
Implications of policy
The challenge of establishing sustaining partnerships is partly due to non-existence of national / municipal financial and non-financial schemes to support guidance services. The only exception is counselling of unemployed implemented by PES. Guidance services to other groups are implemented on the basis of projects and depend on interest of organisations delivering the services. With no regular funding they are not motivated to expand services and related partnerships.
Implications for policy
Policy actors, programme staff and partners acknowledged the role partnerships play in delivering effective guidance and admitted that the current system is rather fragmented, with underdeveloped mutual links and exchange of information. This is caused (at least in part) by the competition amongst education institutions for students; because of this competition, counselling appears to have a strong focus on attracting potential learners to particular education institutions. Counselling thus runs the risk of being institution-centred rather than client-centred.
Because of their competition for learners, there is a threat that educational institutions prefer to act in isolation and do not see the potential of partnership. A possible solution would be establishment of central focal institution in adult education that would foresee national and regional challenges and would have good networks with regions.
The role of NGOs in guidance services delivery should be explored in more detail. NGOs work is based on another principles than state-owned and municipal institutions. NGOs work with population groups at social risk, they have a good reputation in local communities. It is very likely that investment into the services provided by NGOs would be more cost-efficient than funding regular VET or adult education institutions who don’t have a good access to low-skilled and low-motivated adults.