- Aspects of guidance: before, during or after education of training
- GOAL in Slovenia
- Partnerships & Networks
- Features, impact and quality of the guidance process
- Improving the outreach process
Guidance for adults in education is an important part of the concept and practice of lifelong learning. With the fundamental role of supporting adults in all aspects of their education and learning, it makes an important contribution to raising awareness about the importance of lifelong learning and the greater inclusion of adults in further education and training. Guidance for adults in education is a complex activity that includes several aspects of guidance: guidance before inclusion in education or training, guidance during education and learning, and guidance on completion of education or training. If guidance before inclusion largely consists of help in choosing and enrolling in education or training that is appropriate for the adult in question, guidance during education places a greater emphasis on the organisation of learning and improving the individual's learning, or eliminating obstacles to successful and effective learning, while guidance on completion focuses on helping with decisions and taking further steps that may be connected with a continuation of education or training, a change of employment, career development, personal goals, etc. (see also Jelenc Krašovec, 2011).
All three aspects interweave and interconnect, as was also demonstrated in the GOAL programme. For example, in the fact that counsellors felt that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether a client is only seeking guidance regarding education or is seeking guidance for employment or career development, since these aspects frequently overlap. Sometimes the emphasis is on the first category and sometimes it is on the second or third category, depending on the needs and goals of the client (which are not always clear at the start of guidance and in some cases only crystallise during the course of guidance itself, or may change from what they were at the beginning, etc.).
Within the GOAL project, greater emphasis was placed on guidance before inclusion in education and/or training, since one of the key objectives of GOAL is to find ways to contribute to the greater inclusion of low-skilled adults in lifelong learning by improving approaches to guidance for adults in education. In the previous sections we have repeatedly demonstrated that figures for Slovenia show on the one hand that the inclusion of adults in LLL is falling, and on the other that adults who have completed less than four years of secondary education and older adults are the groups with the lowest participation in LLL. They also show that in Slovenia we have 400,000 low-skilled adults.
GOAL in Slovenia: two types of organisations
The GOAL guidance programme in Slovenia included two types of adult education organisation, in line with the five defined intervention strategies. The aim, within the GOAL project, was to build up guidance activities for adults within these organisations, and also to enhance their cooperation with each other, since these are two key types of educational organisations in the local environment that play an important role in the development and provision of education in that environment: an adult education centre incorporating an adult education guidance centre (ISIO centre) and a secondary education centre with an adult education unit.
• At the regional ISIO centre, greater emphasis was placed, even before the GOAL project, on providing guidance to all adults in the region (not only those enrolled at the adult education centre), for the entire range of adult education opportunities in the region (and sometimes more widely, in the national context), on providing information and guidance before inclusion in education, during education and on completion of education, and on establishing a partnership with all key organisations operating in the fields of human resource development and adult education.
• Within the adult education unit of the secondary education centre, the emphasis before the GOAL project was on providing guidance to adults enrolled in the centre's programmes for adults, where guidance was one of the tasks of the education organiser. Greater emphasis was placed on guidance support during education, and the guidance process did not involve a cooperative partnership on a significant scale or in an organised form.
The result of the joint activities and cooperation of the two types of organisation in the GOAL project takes the form of two proposals:
- the ISIO centre should remain a centre for guidance support for all adults in the region and maintain, alongside its own activities, a network of partner organisations, each covering different target groups of adults in the region, particularly vulnerable groups; cooperation with the secondary education centre and other partners in the ISIO partner network should be further strengthened; guidance should be provided at the ISIO centre before, during and on completion of education, where greater emphasis is expected to be placed on guidance before inclusion in education;
- the adult education unit at the secondary education centre should reinforce guidance support for its participants, both before inclusion in education (above all through more promotion and different types of promotion – i.e. outreach approaches) and during education; it should also reinforce the planning and provision of guidance in a structured manner, so that guidance is holistic and of adequate scope; it should also establish cooperative partnerships (either with the ISIO centre and other partners in the ISIO network or through its own partnerships focused on participants' guidance objectives).
In order to reach individual target groups more effectively, a partnership may also be formed for a single target group, while at the same time ensuring that a smaller number of partners include the selected target group in their activities, in this way increasing their interest and their motivation to participate (not all organisations in the GOAL local partnership were equally active, and we may conclude from the responses of some of them that the main reasons for this were a lack of time and the opinion, expressed by them, that they are interested above all in activities designed for the target group(s) which they themselves cover).
The programme partners talked about the problems of social exclusion of their clients, lack of motivation and the need for more deep counselling, for which partners sometimes do not have enough time and staff, and more sessions for the guidance of an individual client. Counsellors feel that partners could support them in many ways, for example by sharing information about the characteristics and needs of clients; sharing tools, information and databases; and perhaps even providing training workshops to upgrade the competences needed for guidance work with vulnerable target groups. Counsellors were aware of this need and stressed that low-skilled adults (unemployed, employed, migrants and over-50s), tended to need deeper counselling, more personal contacts, a lot of additional motivation, and support for further education and training.
From the point of view of strengthening guidance support for adults at the secondary education centre, counsellors and directors alike proposed closer integration, within the secondary education centre, of the guidance service for young people and adult education organisers. Both categories of professional staff encounter similar guidance problems when dealing with their clients, and sharing experiences and a common professional approach could contribute significantly to the effectiveness and quality of the counselling work of all involved within the secondary education centre.
The GOAL project confirmed that the guidance process must be structured, holistic and client-oriented, that the client should be guided step by step to results and effects (for example through multiple encounters, except in the case of brief informative sessions), and that counsellors should use appropriate tools in the guidance process. GOAL guidance also provided confirmation that, for the client, it is not only the result that is important, i.e. inclusion in education or training, but also the fact that through the guidance process they have been encouraged and motivated to change their personal and work situation with the help of education. This was emphasised by many clients in interviews after the project was completed (follow-up survey), while some also mentioned it in the survey they completed following the first encounter (client satisfaction survey). This factor is furthermore confirmed by data on the greater self-efficacy and self-confidence of clients. Some mentioned that there had also been positive changes in their personal life as a result of guidance with GOAL counsellors.
A further proposal is to standardise adult education guidance and identify differences and the preconditions that must be met for adult education guidance to be regarded as being of sufficient quality; to strengthen the professionalisation of the counsellor's role in adult education; to comprehensively define the tasks and competences of adult education counsellors. The specifics of the different educational organisations (differences between secondary schools, adult education centres and ISIO centres) must also be taken into account.
The quality of adult education guidance must be built on the quality of counsellors' work. A sufficient number of counsellors must be secured; this will allow them to devote enough time to clients, monitor their progress, and develop themselves and their skills to an adequate degree.
The quality of the guidance process should be supported by high-quality tools, the established partner networks and the various approaches developed to make it easier to reach vulnerable groups of adults (outreach).
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.
Modern media, social networks and local media such as radio and television should be included and used in these activities, along with 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 offices of the employment service, social services centres, in the local community, in libraries and at local events.
To make it easier to introduce new outreach activities, we recommend:
- the preparation of short professional guidelines on how to plan and carry out outreach activities for vulnerable target groups more effectively;
- the inclusion in additional training programmes for counsellors of content on the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences for the planning and implementation of more effective outreach activities for vulnerable target groups.
The assessment and development of quality in adult education guidance should be established as a comprehensive system integrated into the system of quality assessment and development in the education system (the system is being developed in 2016 and 2017 and will be pilot tested in the 2017/18 academic year and subsequently further upgraded).
Among the factors that contributed to the results achieved in GOAL in Slovenia was the fact that counsellors enjoyed the constant professional support of both national public institutions. During the GOAL programme counsellors were given additional training by staff from the two public institutions and additional expert material and guidelines for the implementation of the planned activities in the five intervention strategies.
Counsellors should be provided with expert support by specialist national public institutions such as the SIAE and IRSVET.
At the level of the GOAL project, the national team considers that the general application of the methodological framework and the further structure of activities and work methods were not sufficiently defined at the beginning of the process.
Because of the variety of target groups and the different numbers of adults included in the trial in individual countries, the results of the trial across all the participating countries are fragmented, meaning that some generalisations are not possible.
For the purposes of further similar projects and for the sustainability of GOAL results, it would be advisable to design a tool, a programme or even an online portal that uses the final evaluation methodology from the trial for further analyses of guidance processes in different countries.