In 2015 two leaflets were prepared, for each region separately, in support of promotion for GOAL guidance and the outreach strategy. The leaflets included a description of the purpose and content of the guidance, as well as counsellors’ contact details.
The secondary education centres were more oriented towards providing information on and promoting guidance options within their own organisations, while ISIO centres cast their net more widely, outside their own organisations. For all four providers, partners from the two regional networks were an important resource for reaching the four selected GOAL target groups, to varying degrees of effectiveness. The most responsive partners were those that placed unemployed persons and persons in employment into the guidance process, and the least responsive were those working with the over-50s and immigrants.
In the Savinjska-Šaleška region, the local media, local radio and local television were also involved in promotion. All four providers published information on GOAL guidance on their websites and on Facebook. Counsellors are of the opinion that personal information on guidance options, whether provided to potential clients by counsellors or partner organisations at information and promotion events or as a result of learning of the positive experiences of clients from their own environment who have been involved in the guidance process, is the most effective way of encouraging people to join that process themselves. Counsellors in the Savinjska-Šaleška region encouraged one of the clients to outline her positive experiences by writing a short personal testimony; this was published, together with her photograph, in a bulletin for adults. The bulletin presented information on formal and informal adult education opportunities for 2016/2017, financial incentives, guidance support, etc. (Info-ISIO 2016/2017, SIAE documentation and on the website http://arhiv.acs.si/glasila/Info-ISIO_2016-2017.pdf). They also recorded a short video with one of the clients at the end of the GOAL guidance programme in which the client described how her education path had been supported by the guidance process and invited other adults to seek guidance (in SIAE documentation).
So many different activities were not carried out in the Osrednjeslovenska region, as they achieved the planned number of clients through promotional activities.
Strengths and achievements
Partner cooperation within the two regional networks (each network contained ten organisations) emerged as an important outreach resource. However, it was not equally effective for all selected GOAL target groups, as referrals were greater in number from partners whose activities covered unemployed persons and persons in employment than from partners whose clients were older adults and immigrants. In addition to the referral of clients to GOAL guidance by partners, guidance was also provided by GOAL counsellors at partners in two enterprises. Counsellors and partners were of the opinion that closer ties needed to be established with enterprises (management and HR department) in order to more easily reach those of their employees with lower levels of education. Small and medium-sized enterprises require more guidance support from educational organisations.
GOAL counsellors also tested some other promotional outreach activities, such as a leaflet, an information booth at the Festival of the Third Age and at a shopping centre, publications in the local print media, and local radio and television. It is the counsellors’ experience that printed promotional material is a less effective method for reaching low-skilled adults, and that a more effective method is the personal provision of information in the environments in which these adults live or work or at the events they attend.
Challenges and barriers
After the experiences of GOAL guidance in Slovenia in Wave 1, the major challenge in Wave 2 was how to reach the over-50s, immigrants and those in employment and involve them in guidance. Wave 1 data shows that the unemployed accounted for almost half of the four planned target groups (47% of 49 clients participating). The national team therefore encouraged counsellors to step up their activities to involve the other three groups (those in employment, the over-50s and immigrants). Wave 2 data shows that they were more successful in reaching the over-50s, with participation increasing by five percentage points (16% in Wave 1, 21% in Wave 2), and those in employment (increase by four percentage points, from 27% in Wave 1 to 31% in Wave 2) than in reaching immigrants, whose level of participation rose by just one percentage point (10% in Wave 1, 11% in Wave 2).
Counsellors are of the opinion that partners can be an even bigger and better factor in reaching vulnerable groups of adults, but that more time and more planned activities are required for this. Counsellors often lack the time for this because their work, whether in a secondary education centre or an ISIO centre, is multi-layered, with guidance being only one of their tasks. Moreover, counsellors and the directors of the four GOAL providers believe that they require more staff if they are to take a more proactive approach to outreach.
Counsellors must be adequately trained to develop and implement outreach activities in secondary education centres and ISIO centres alike. If a variety of flexible approaches is to be implemented, it is important for a counsellor to be familiar with the characteristics and needs of the target groups within their local environment that they wish to reach, and with those approaches that might be most effective.
In addition to this, certain conditions must be secured in relation to staffing (number of staff involved in guidance), funding, premises for information-provision and guidance organised in a different way, promotional material, adequate equipment (e.g. for ICT support to information-provisions and guidance), etc.
One important factor in improving the outreach process is effective promotional activities that can be directed towards raising awareness of the importance of lifelong learning, and promoting guidance options and the information resources available on educational opportunities for adults. One further challenge for counsellors is how to engage/use modern media, social networks, local media (radio and television) and the new mobile formats to increase the profile of guidance in the local environment, which might also come in the form of occasional information booths at employment services, social work centres, in the local community and in libraries.
GOAL counsellors tested various promotion methods and, as mentioned earlier, assessed that the most effective were those where the client personally learned about or received information on guidance or educational options, either from a counsellor, a professional from a partner organisation or another adult who had been involved in a guidance process.