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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Quality in career counseling – from vision to practice

by Linda Berg
Language: EN
Document available also in: SL

350 participants working with career counseling at various levels were gathered for two days at the Scandic Airport Hotel in Gardermoen for a kick-off on the quality framework. This was a national career guidance conference for everyone in the career guidance field in Norway. The theme was: Quality in Career Guidance - from Vision to Practice. The initiators of the conference were both from Skills Norway, actors for Career Guidance field and Academia.

We were seated around 40 tables, with 40 table facilitators to help conduct the conversations and summarize the conversations in a Padlet.
By the way, it was a fantastic way of working and to engage the participants and help them to reflect on presentations.

Skills Norway was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research to issue a cross-sectoral quality framework for career guidance. The goal was to deliver high-quality career counseling services in all sectors. The quality framework should be a useful tool for both career counselors and others responsible for the services.

Skills Norway worked with four groups of experts consisting of professionals from the practice field and academia. They have been on a road trip throughout Norway to get feedback on the work; so many have contributed to the result.

Now it is time for implementation, from vision to practice. Everyone who has tried to implement something, knows that this is not an easy task, and it is not done by a drop of a hat.
At the conference, participants were presented with the themes of competency standards, career competence and ethics. The themes were presented by one from academia and Skills Norway, and practitioners who demonstrated how they used the quality framework, before the groups were given their tasks. This proved to be a method that worked very well, even with 350 participants.

One of the reflections presented and discussed at the conference around the tables was: “what do quality really mean”? Can one say that this is quality versus something else? Quality is subjective, one must talk to those who have been seeing a career counselor and hear what they think and have them talk about their experience. Only then, can one get an understanding of what quality is and could be. Nevertheless, quality is something that you must work for, but has its own substance beyond us all. The participants were instructed to say something about how to work with the competency standards by taking self-evaluation of what one could do themselves, and then talk about what one lacked and how one could work with skills development in their own workplace. Summarized in short, competency standards are what a career counselor should be able to do, but divided into general and specialized competence. The discussions around the tables were about how to work with skills development in own workplaces; here are some suggestions:

  • Learning through experience
  • Work on developing common networks,
  • Participate in research and development
  • Observation

The next work session for the participants was career skills, from the stage there were discussions about how one could know what the benefits of career guidance would be. What is Career Learning? Does it happen by teaching students in educational choices; and after that have the students gained career skills? Is this about lifelong learning by making different choices and considering changes in job situation and by doing so gaining career training? Practitioners on stage talked about including this in all subjects at the school, so that one can more easily understand that learning a career is not just something a counselor or a career counselor does while counseling.
These were reflections that the participants had to discuss and look for in their own workplace.

It was concluded that the career competencies can be used structurally in reflections and in the workplace.

Day two of the conference started with a presentation on ethics. Ethics is the teachings about right and wrong, and how to talk about this in the workplace. Is it taken for granted that everyone is ethical? Do everyone the same understanding? How do you take care of this in a conversation with a path seeker?

The Quality Framework has landed on an ethical pledge which implies showing the path seeker that a career counselor takes him or her seriously, is bound by confidentiality, shows respect, and that they will work on a work on a situation together.

So what now, after a few engaging days, being filled up with the quality framework and wondering how to get this implemented in my workplace? My summons would be:

- Work systematically on quality!

- Care about the outcome of the guidance!

- Care about ethics!

- Take responsibility for the guidance competencies!

Author: Anita Lervik

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