Implications for future programme development
The quality of adult education guidance must be built on the quality of counsellors’ work. The tasks and competences required by counsellors for this work must be defined, particularly in relation to the guidance provided to low-skilled adults. Counsellors must be provided with initial and continuous additional professional training. 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).
Counsellors should be provided with expert support by specialist national public institutions such as the SIAE and IRSVET for all these activities.
Furthermore 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 2017/2018 academic year and subsequently further upgraded).
Implications of policy
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 assessment and development of quality in adult education. 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 the self-evaluation in adult education.
The Slovenian Institute for Adult Education has developed the OQEA (Offering Quality Education to Adults) model for assessing and developing quality in adult education; this is also supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. 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 the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport also supported a model for the assessment and development of quality in the activities of ISIO centres (SIAE, 2009); this might also provide an appropriate basis for defining general quality standards, indicators and criteria for adult education guidance.
At the national level, common Interdepartmental Quality Guidelines for Lifelong Career Guidance were adopted in 2015, the main purpose of which was to (ESS, 2015, p. 7):
- “enable a common quality assurance framework to be introduced in all areas and at all levels of career guidance in Slovenia that would be harmonised with the European framework for quality assurance and data-collection;
- help partner organisations develop or supplement their quality assurance systems for lifelong career guidance in a way that contributes to improving their quality and effectiveness;
- ensure that users of lifelong career guidance develop planning and career guidance skills at different stages of life.” (ELGPN, 2012a)
Slovenia has sufficient bases in these strategic and professional guidelines for assuring and developing quality in adult education guidance.
Implications for policy
If adult education guidance is properly placed within a systemic framework and adult education guidance activities, in their various forms and at various organisations, are given adequate and stable funding, this will also help to increase the quality of adult education guidance. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport should remain the entity responsible for the systemic dimension of adult education guidance at the national level. It should also come together with other line ministries, and coordinate common interests and measures in this area also in one of the existing national coordinating bodies.
Efforts to improve quality in adult education guidance are also chiefly 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).