Outreach for target groups that are rarely or less frequently involved in lifelong learning is a challenge for Slovenia from the point of view of two of the strategic objectives we set for adult education and outlined in the Resolution on the National Adult Education Programme (ReNPIO 2013–2020):
- to provide every adult in Slovenia with equal opportunities for high-quality education at all stages of life;
- to have 19% of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 involved in lifelong learning by 2020,
as involvement in lifelong learning programmes has declined in recent years (just 11.6% of adults between 25 and 64 in lifelong learning in 2016, down from 15.9% in 2011) (Eurostat 2016).
One important measure for achieving the objectives set is to provide adults with comprehensive, high-quality information on their educational options and comprehensive guidance support prior to inclusion in and during the education and learning process. High-quality guidance support includes the incorporation of new approaches to the provision of information and guidance in order to make outreach for vulnerable target groups easier and more effective, particularly low-skilled adults (less than four years of secondary education). As already mentioned, the data show that adults from this group are less frequently involved in continuing education and training (and some members of this group are never involved), that they achieve poorer results when their basic skills are measured (PIAAC results for Slovenia, OECD 2016), and are most often socially excluded and on the poverty line. Data for Slovenia shows that the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate is increasing. In 2015 the at-risk-of-poverty rate was 14.3% (287,000 people were below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold) and the social exclusion rate was 19.2% (SURS, 2016).
ReNPIO 2013–2020 gives strategic foundations for the development and establishment of all key support activities in adult education that contribute towards the realisation of the strategic adult education objectives. In addition to the importance of guidance and of identifying and recognising adults' prior learning, it also defines the development of new educational programmes for the different needs of different target groups (more "tailor-made" programmes).
Special programmes should be developed for the following groups: the disabled, the over-50s, migrants, adults with special needs, which would enable guidance to be provided in a form that corresponds to individual target groups and does not merely pursue direct objectives that lead to a change in the client's position in the labour market. The counsellors highlighted the greatest obstacle to the participation of vulnerable target groups in education as being a lack of co-financing of education and training programmes. The programmes should be designed not only to meet the national objectives but also to follow the individual objectives of the vulnerable groups and be integrated into the local community.
The Resolution on the National Adult Education Programme 2013–2020 also sets out the importance of developing adult education professionals. Among its objectives are the training of sufficient numbers of adult education professionals for different target groups and needs, the adapting of teacher and adult education training to different target groups, and the provision of advanced adult education training and the training of professional staff as a nationally important activity, programme and public service (ReNPIO 2013–2020, SIAE, 2014, p. 52).
Policy actors identified possible key obstacles to the realisation of the GOAL project objectives: a lack of financing of guidance in adult education, a lack of networking at policy level and a lack of integration of the local community as a whole for the effective development of adult education. It will be important to define suggestions and, potentially, guidelines through GOAL on how to overcome those obstacles and strengthen the role of guidance as a key component of lifelong learning for low-skilled adults.
We highlight two of the objectives referred to in this area: the drawing-up of normative bases for the systematic assessment and development of quality in all educational organisations that provide adult education, financed from public funds, and the further development and implementation of support measures for self-evaluation in adult education.
Policy actors believe that it is important that the findings and outputs of the GOAL project are implemented into policies at the national and local levels. The work of the national coordination for lifelong career orientation can be used for this purpose, since it is a good example of connecting guidance for youth and adults, for the employed and the unemployed.
In order to ensure quality in adult education guidance a comprehensive system for the assessment and development of quality should be established. The Slovenian Institute for Adult Education has developed the OQEA (Offering Quality Education to Adults) model for assessing and developing quality in adult education included in the Annual Adult Education Plan. The model is based on self-evaluation of the quality of all processes in adult education and also includes assessment of the quality of adult education guidance support (see Kazalniki kakovosti v izobraževanju odraslih/Quality indicators in adult education, SIAE, 2013).
In addition, in 2007 and 2009 a model for the assessment and development of quality in the activities of ISIO centres (SIAE, 2009) was developed. This provides a basis for defining general quality standards, indicators and criteria for adult education guidance in every adult education organisation.
The biggest obstacles to establishing continuous guidance services for low-skilled adults in Slovenia are the uncertainty and time constraints of funding and of the action plans developed as part of national strategies. For this reason it is necessary to overcome these obstacles with new measures that ensure continuous financing of guidance services for adults in education. Continuous range of education and training programmes, that are related not only to the goals and needs of the labour market but also to individuals' personal goals and their active participation in society, particularly as regards vulnerable groups, have to be financed too.
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 are aware of this need, and stressed that low-skilled adults (unemployed, employed), migrants and the over-50s, tended to need deeper counselling, more personal contacts, a lot of additional motivation, and support for further education and training. 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.
A process of exchange between counsellors from EU countries should be supported; this will enable the exchange of examples of good practice and the possibility of training in other countries.
Policy actors emphasised that in addition to national partnerships, local ones are also important. The challenge is how to connect the existing human resources at the local level, meaning human resources departments, counsellors at adult education centres and secondary schools, and employment service counsellors. Time and financial resources are needed to make and sustain these connections, in part by increasing the number of counsellors.
The partnership worked well at the local level under the existing guidance model and for the purpose of the project, which was supported by the GOAL project activities. The partners were very satisfied with the operations of both networks and all of them were of the opinion that the partnership should continue. In future the objectives will have to be specified, as will the degree of formality of operation, the number of partners, the methods of operation (number of meetings, information support) and the target groups addressed. For better inclusion of employees in the guidance process, consideration should be given to methods and content which would motivate businesses to take a more active part in the partnership, and to the monitoring of results with systemic recommendations.
The partnership at the national level depends on the cooperation of stakeholders (relevant ministries and development institutes, the Employment Service of Slovenia, the Association of Social Institution, representatives of employers, trade unions, relevant university faculties); as one of the stakeholders said, "it is absolutely essential to bring together different policies. In Slovenia we are on the path to becoming successful in this regard. The national programme or a systemically and strategically established resolution on adult education is a good basis for this."
One aspect of project sustainability is a better connection between guidance providers. Now we have adult education organised within secondary schools, which ensures guidance within the education process, and we should connect with the counsellors in the ISIO centres and other counsellors, for example at the Employment Service, so there will be better connections between different counsellors.
The results of the evaluation process emphasise the positive effects achieved by the network and the desire for further cooperation. At the same time it is essential that the network is supported by various direct measures for different vulnerable groups, e.g. the possibility of involvement in guidance activities, education and training. We should not overlook measures aimed at motivating employers to encourage their employees to join education and training programmes.
Guidance activities should be clearly defined for secondary schools and functionally adapted for adults in secondary education centres. The whole system of guidance for youngsters and adults needs to be properly regulated by relevant sectors, which includes financing. This regulation should cover monitoring at the national level by the institutes (SIAE and IRSVET) responsible for developing the guidance system for adults in education and lifelong career guidance. It should also regulate the number of counsellors and their training system.
The systemic dimension and adequate legal bases for the field must be secured (e.g. annual adult education programmes under ReNPIO 2013–2020, the new Adult Education Act, the Guidelines for Adult Education Guidance).
It is important to follow strategic documents not only at the national level but also at the European level, and in this way allow for different measures in various frameworks, such the European Social Fund, the Erasmus+ programme etc.
The GOAL national team further recommends that Slovenia pursue the objectives outlined for this area in the European document "Upskilling Pathways: New Opportunities for Adults" (European Commission, 2016) and that plans for concrete activities be drawn up for the next three years, for which funds are already earmarked in the national budget, as defined by the Annual Adult Education Plan and the European Social Fund.
It is therefore important for the future development of adult education guidance quality that the implementation of a quality assurance and development system is defined by various measures and coordinated by the relevant national bodies. The data gathered in the GOAL project and the approach to evaluating the process and results are a good starting point for the establishment of a model of monitoring and evaluation of the results and effects of guidance.
 On average, adults in Slovenia achieve lower results than the OECD average (literacy, numeracy, problem-solving in technology-rich environments), with one in four adults possessing lower-level skills (Javrh, 2016).
 One of the objectives set out in "Upskilling Pathways: New Opportunities for Adults" is the requirement to provide access to upskilling pathways for adults with low skills, knowledge and competences (e.g. those who have abandoned formal education or training without having completed secondary or equivalent education), with an important role in this being played by guaranteed guidance support. One of the recommendations is to "Implement motivation and outreach measures that include raising awareness on the benefits of upskilling, making available information on existing guidance, support measures, upskilling opportunities and responsible bodies, and providing incentives to those least motivated to take advantage of these" (European Commission, 2016).
 Efforts to improve quality in adult education guidance are mainly supported by two European documents: the Renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning (European Commission, 2011) and Upskilling Pathways: New Opportunities for Adults (European Commission, 2016).