The development of career guidance and counselling has been looked upon favourably in Europe throughout the 2000s. The role that lifelong guidance plays in promoting the education of citizens and their employment is widely acknowledged in the EU and its Member States. In recent years, multidisciplinary and multiprofessional dialogue and co-operation have become more common in the context of guidance both in Finland and the other EU member countries. A networked and interadministrative approach to developing and providing services is now customary. In the 2010s, guidance services have typically been offered to customers through various channels.
Career guidance neglected?
The European Commission’s recent policies and initiatives regarding employment and lifelong learning have been somewhat alarming in terms of guidance. While communication, counselling and guidance are mentioned in the Commission’s initiatives (such as the new Skills Agenda for 2016–2020 and the Europass draft resolution), their status and goals are not that clear. There is an obvious need for Europe-wide coordination of guidance and counselling, but we are still waiting for it to emerge.
These issues are brought up in the brief on the state of lifelong learning, released by the European Parliament in March 2017. Targeting EU Members of Parliament and other policymakers, the brief aims to clarify the goals and importance of guidance to individual citizens and society at large. It discusses key EU policy documents regarding guidance and counselling (e.g. the 2004 and 2008 resolutions on guidance) and the comprehensive development of guidance carried out by the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN), led by Member States, in 2007–2015. Furthermore, the brief identifies current and future challenges that can be answered with guidance.
The Member States are now waiting for the European Commission to make a proposal on how to promote European guidance co-operation in the future. It is needed to provide continuity—and greater impact—to the successful work carried out at the EU level and in Member States. Guidance professionals around Europe have suggested that a new EU resolution on guidance could give guidance a new boost and help link it more closely to the implementation of European education and employment policies.
Guidance as part of the Europass resolution
The European Commission and EU Member States discussed a Europass draft resolution during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union (in early 2017). The draft mentions guidance, but leaves the role of guidance unclear in the document. From the perspective of guidance, a resolution on Europass cannot serve as the defining document for EU-level guidance policies. What is worth discussing, however, is how communication, counselling and guidance can help support the achievement of the goals in the Europass document.
Currently, the only Europe-wide guidance network is Euroguidance, which promotes international mobility and European information exchange concerning guidance. The Commission aims to link the Euroguidance network more closely to the implementation of Europass, but it is not yet clear what this means in practice.
There is continued demand for national and European co-operation in the field of guidance. This makes it essential for EU-level operating conditions to be in order so that the guidance needs of citizens can be answered also in the future.
Text: Mika Launikari Photo: Shutterstock