Guidance activities and processes: quantitative findings
Duration and amount of sessions
Under the adult education guidance model established in Slovenia as part of the GOAL project, a precondition for a client’s participation in guidance evaluation was that they must have had at least two sessions; it was also ideal for them to have had at least one one-to-one session with a counsellor.
On average, clients had 2.29 sessions. In 96% of cases, these were one-to-one sessions with a counsellor. Half of all first sessions lasted between 31 and 60 minutes. Subsequent sessions were generally shorter, with 44% (the highest single figure) lasting 20 minutes or less. The first sessions of clients taking part in the GOAL programme lasted an average of 28 minutes. When we look at the first and second sessions only (every client attended at least two sessions), we see that the duration of all subsequent sessions fell for most clients. We can also observe a difference in the length of guidance sessions according to the client’s gender, with sessions with women lasting longer. According to the data, the counsellor themselves can also influence the length of a session, most frequently as a result of their approach to the session but also, at times, because of the target group being addressed. The length of sessions differed between the providers in Ljubljana and Velenje. On average, the latter held slightly shorter sessions, with unemployed and low-educated adults making up the bulk of their clients. The Ljubljana providers held more sessions with the over-50s and migrants than the Velenje providers, with slightly longer sessions recorded. Due regard should also be paid to the fact that the duration of the first session was probably determined by the length of the monitoring questionnaire.
Reasons for seeking guidance
Clients most often selected three reasons for seeking guidance: to explore educational opportunities (42%), have prior learning recognised (14.4%) and explore personal interests and find links between personal interests and professional/educational opportunities (13% of all responses). The main reason for seeking guidance was to explore educational opportunities. There was no great change in the percentage share for this response between Waves 1 and 2. There was a bigger difference between the two Waves for “recognition of prior learning and skills”: an increase of 14 percentage points in Wave 2. Recognition of prior learning was the main reason for seeking guidance for two target groups: the unemployed and the over-50s. Exploring educational opportunities was a reason for all target groups, with the highest percentage recorded for those in employment.
There were no major differences between the three most prominent groups in the sample (comprising the 26–55 age group) in terms of the main reasons given for seeking guidance. With all three, the largest share was taken by those whose main reason was “exploring educational opportunities”, followed by those who wished to have their prior learning recognised and those who wished to explore their personal interests.
A similar picture is given by the data on the main topic of individual sessions: in 79% of cases, the main topic was education, in 21% of cases the main topic was recognition of prior education and in 4% of cases the main topic was employment.
In Wave 1, the majority of clients sought guidance at their own initiative (45% of all clients involved in Wave 1). This group fell to 36% in Wave 2, with the share of those who had been referred to guidance by employers increasing by 100%. We can attribute the greater contribution made by enterprises to client referral to the increased activity of one guidance provider that had not been active in Wave 1 (this was a secondary education centre that primarily offers formal education programmes). The data on the clients who took part shows that most of them had been referred to an education programme by their employers. The higher share of clients that sought guidance at their own initiative can be explained by the method by which target groups were informed of the services provided by counsellors as part of the GOAL project, with counsellors engaging in promotional activities in the field, in enterprises and at trade fairs. The Employment Service held special workshops for the long-term unemployed that set out to motivate individuals to take part in guidance processes. Those who decided to take part had done so at their own initiative and not because they had been referred by employment advisers;
Guidance activities and processes: qualitative findings
Types of organisation
Two types of organisation providing adult education information and guidance are involved in the GOAL project.
Educational centres provide training for enterprises, the unemployed and other interested persons, along with vocational and professional education programmes for those who have abandoned regular full-time study and for adults participating in secondary vocational or professional education programmes. Both secondary education centres perform these activities via special adult education units that provide information and guidance for their users.
The second type of provider is the ISIO centre. The two centres of this type involved in the GOAL project operate as units at an Adult Education Centre and are oriented primarily towards providing adult education information and guidance.
Differences in target group and approach
The largest difference between the two types of provider lies in the target groups that use their services. For the secondary education centres we can say that they have developed a guidance method from this that they then offer their users. In the majority of cases, these users are persons who, to a certain extent, already have a path they wish to pursue and who know that they would like to enrol in education or obtain a National Vocational Qualification offered by the centre; they are also persons who have been referred for training by the Employment Service or an employer. We can conclude that these centres conduct fewer initial exploratory sessions, focusing more on adults who are in the process of acquiring a qualification.
ISIO centres operate in a more open environment, as their services are aimed at anyone who wishes or needs to use them. Therefore, the first session is more thorough and involves an exploration of the client’s objectives, wishes and values. They may also provide guidance to adults whose education is already under way, not necessarily at the same organisation.
With both types of provider, counsellors familiarise themselves with the individual’s knowledge, skills and competences in the document phase. This phase might involve an electronic portfolio, an NVQ portfolio, a procedure to recognise prior learning in order to shorten a formal education programme, or a personal education plan.
The basic differences between the two types of organisation lie in the first guidance session (at an ISIO centre, this can have more of an exploratory nature, if the client does not yet have clear objectives) and the fact that clients at secondary education centres are usually being trained or educated at those centres, while clients at ISIO centres might also be individuals who are only using the guidance services offered.