E-Guide: The kick-off meeting took place on November 14th and 15th in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The project is expected to result in immediate and long-term change towards improving the quality of skills of practitioners and the career guidance services provided to all individuals, thus leading to better matched career paths, vocational training and work placement. It is expected that the tools developed in this project will be integrated in everyday operations of private or public career advisors, in schools, universities and other resources used for assessing and advising on work issues. Ultimately, it aims at incorporating these resources in the VET systems of the project countries, eventually leading to official policy initiatives, among project partner and other EU member states.
The project should be transnational since quality career guidance, targeted education and effective work placement still remain key challenges for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020). The objective of this eGuide Practitioner platform is to ensure that skills and qualifications can be more easily recognized and better understood, within and across national borders, in all sub-systems of education and training as well as in the labour market of all member states. The tools developed as part of the platform will cater to internationalization of education, growing use of digital learning, and support the creation of flexible learning pathways for all career guidance professionals across Europe.
The project asserts that raising quality of career guidance directly contributes to reducing unemployment and placing those with work difficulties, predominantly young and disadvantaged people – on a long-term path of growth and development. In today’s economic climate, unemployment has risen dramatically (Eurostat, Dec. 2015). Some countries, notably Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ireland and Croatia, have record levels of unemployment.
Accordingly, the “Europe 2020” growth strategy targets unemployment via a range of policies, including action aimed at strengthening the interrelation between career guidance, vocational training and employability. Quality career guidance leads students onto well-targeted career paths and other workers into appropriate vocational education. They otherwise risk attending training courses for which they are unsuited or setting themselves on inappropriate career paths. Career counseling therefore must be sensitive to the needs of each demographic group it applies its principles on. Those who provide the service, such as advisors, counselors, teachers, etc, need to be equally and adequately trained to handle all types of job seekers. Yet, training methods and tools employed by career guidance professionals vary significantly across Europe, (CEDEFOP “Professionalizing Career Guidance” report).
For example, the countries involved in this proposal: practitioners in Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are required before practicing to obtain an academic diploma and a degree. While in Ireland a certification is obligatory and courses are offered through several institutions, in Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia there is only one university offering such a degree and a certification is available but not obligatory. Greece, on the other hand, has no related university degree and no certification and few advisors (7%) have any related training. Another differentiation is in service points and tools used to assess youth skills. Ireland and Greece have several service points nationwide and tools available, while Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia have few access points and limited evaluation tools.
This proposal builds on the achievements of previous eGuide projects (see also: Innovation & Complementarity section), which introduced the first-of-its-kind quality assurance framework for the guidance process as well as a validated set of assessment tools supporting this process. Using the existing eGuide framework, we meet our objectives by developing and introducing a new eGuide Practitioners platform with innovative online courses, and web-based assessment and certification tools.
Outputs of the projects will
be placed at the disposal of counselors Europe-wide and will be promoted among practitioners.