Background and aims
Slovenia does not yet have a counsellor training system, either for career guidance or for adult education guidance. Training has been developed in some guidance networks that must be brought together and upgraded as it develops further (e.g. “Modular training for career guidance” at the Employment Service of Slovenia and “Basic training of counsellors at ISIO centres” at the SIAE). The entities involved in the GOAL programme, along with counsellors, directors of the four service providers, and stakeholders/policy actors, believed that this had to be arranged at the national level.
The starting points could be the competences defined for counsellors at ISIO centres and for adult education organisers at adult education organisations, the researched and identified tasks and competences for guidance work with low-educated adults/ low-skilled adults within the GOAL project, and the skills profile that will be compiled at the GOAL project level in collaboration with all six countries (in preparation).
We analysed counsellors’ tasks in both organisations: the secondary education centre and the ISIO centre. We tied these tasks together within the following wider areas referred to by all counsellors:
- identification of the needs of individuals, target groups and the local environment;
- work with partners and ties with the local environment;
- promotion of adult education;
- planning of guidance;
- motivation of potential participants – provision of information and guidance to potential candidates for enrolment in education or training;
- adult education guidance at the stage of exploring options and objectives and making decisions;
- guidance support to participants in education;
- learning assistance to participants during the education process;
- independent study support to participants;
- ongoing and final evaluation of quality of education and guidance activities;
- work with staff, staff development and concern for personal development;
- developmental work: participation in developmental projects in adult education at the national and international levels.
We will connect the tasks by defining the knowledge, skills and competences of adult education counsellors, and propose possible methods for connecting a counsellor’s tasks with the other tasks that a professional may have within their organisation.
GOAL counsellors highlighted the following knowledge, skills and competences for guidance work with low-skilled adults:
- communication and social skills;
- non-verbal and verbal communication;
- empathy, warmth and optimism;
- knowledge and skills to motivate adults to learn;
- knowledge and skills to use different guidance approaches (flexibility);
- the ability to adapt to different target groups of adults (flexibility);
- knowing the tools and how to use them with adults with low levels of education;
- knowing the system of formal and non-formal adult education and training in Slovenia and abroad;
- knowing how to search for information;
- organisational skills;
- skills to promote and market guidance;
- outreach skills;
- knowledge and skills of partnership cooperation/networking.
In the programme of the GOAL project, we organised six targeted training programmes for GOAL counsellors to strengthen and upgrade some of the above skills. The four counsellors interviewed in Wave 2 mentioned, as the knowledge, skills and competences they would require: psychological knowledge (adult psychology), knowledge and skills in relation to effective approaches to motivating adults to enter the education process, additional knowledge and practical experience in guidance work with newly emerging groups of adults (familiarity with their characteristics and needs and practical approaches for the effective management of guidance processes with them), knowledge of specific learning difficulties and obstacles to education faced by adults and how to overcome them, and knowledge and skills for effective partner cooperation with different organisations in their local environments.
Further proposals from national team regarding additional training:
- the use of new tools and their introduction into the guidance process;
- adult career management and development;
- planning and implementation of outreach/new approaches to reach vulnerable groups of adults;
- identifying and evaluating adults’ non-formally and informally acquired knowledge and skills.
Achieving high standards of counselling competence
We can gather, from clients’ opinions regarding the guidance process and counsellors’ work as expressed in the client satisfaction survey and the follow-up survey, that they were very satisfied with the counsellors’ work and the guidance process, which featured a series of sessions, and the results at the end of the first session. We can conclude from all the opinions expressed by the clients that the GOAL counsellors conducted a discreet, comprehensive and thorough guidance process, and that they were professional, friendly and encouraging. This indicates that they already had/have the proper skills for conducting a high-quality guidance process for low-skilled adults as well.
Proceeding from the opinions of all GOAL clients, it is important for them that a counsellor:
- has the ability to make good personal contact;
- is a good listener and is focused on their needs and interests;
- has/takes enough time for them (in a single session or across multiple sessions);
- knows how to motivate them to enter the education and learning process based on their personal and other circumstances;
- has a lot of/all information that they need.
Challenges and barriers
At this juncture we once again list the key challenges and obstacles. The key challenges are:
- how to connect effectively the guidance activities of ISIO centres and adult guidance activities at secondary education centres;
- whether and how counsellors are trained to reach the selected GOAL target groups and motivate them to become involved in lifelong learning;
- how counsellors are trained to establish and coordinate partner cooperation.
The key outstanding obstacles were:
- insufficient time for GOAL activities alongside other tasks, as some counsellors were engaged in a variety of tasks, with guidance being only one of them;
- insufficient exchange of knowledge and experiences in partner cooperation,
- and insufficient time for partner cooperation;
- no tradition of links between secondary schools and adult education centres.