As Europe grows closer together, the field of educational guidance is also extending its reach beyond borders. The tenth Euroguidance Cross Border Seminar was held from June 9-10 in Retz/Lower Austria in keeping with the motto "Guidance Crossing Borders" and dedicated itself to the manifold ways in which educational and vocational guidance counselling in Europe is crossing various traditional boundaries.
Presentations by two keynote speakers from Sweden and Hungary started off the seminar on June 9 in Retz, providing insights into the opportunities and challenges for educational guidance counselling as a consequence of crossing borders.
Employers usually only perceive a small fraction of competences that people acquire while working and studying abroad. The presentation by Nina Ahlroos (Euroguidance Sweden) directed the audience's attention to further, so-called "hidden competences".
According to a study of the Finnish Centre for International Mobility, CIMO, employers usually only perceive improved language skills, increased intercultural experiences and an enhanced ability to work with different people and in different settings among applicants with international experience.
It is often overlooked that applicants, during their stays abroad, also strengthen other competences that are especially important for the future professional environment. The most prominent of these is curiosity: In times of rapid economic change, curiosity is proving to be an essential characteristic for searching out prospective developments and potentially achieving significant competitive advantages for companies. Productivity, in terms of significantly increased problem-solving abilities, is another skill that applicants with international experience bring to the table. People returning from stays abroad have shown to be very resilient in professional situations since they are able to better evaluate their own abilities and limitations and pursue their goals with perseverance.
Nina Ahlroos pointed out that educational guidance counsellors with an expanded understanding of the benefits of stays abroad can support their clients even better in presenting their abilities within the application process.
The second keynote speech at the seminar established a historic correlation between mobility activities and career paths. The Hungarian guidance expert Tibor Bors Borbely-Pecze, senior consultant at ELGPN (European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network), illuminated the various contexts in which professional careers progressed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Socialist systems predominantly assigned career paths and professional activities to individuals. Occupational choices were limited in the extreme; the space for making independent career decisions was very narrow.
Eastern European states, just as the entire Central European region, underwent a developmental change within the Post-Fordism of recent decades: Employers increasingly developed into entrepreneurs with strongly individualised qualification profiles and internalised control mechanisms, reaching a state of self-exploitation while concurrently being confronted with unreliable social security systems.
Tibor Bors Borbely-Pecze introduced further career concepts: such as the protean career model (according to Douglas Hall), which describes a career as a process that is managed by the person, not by the company. The search for self-fulfilment is the driving force for the individual; criteria for success are rooted within the individual, not in external circumstances.
The career adaptability model (according to Mark Savickas), on the other hand, focusses on the resources of individuals in coping with current and expected professional changes, transitions and challenges. The ability to proactively advance one's own development and make suitable life choices has proven essential. High professional adaptability also necessitates continuous engagement with one's own future and the ability to perceive opportunities that present themselves.
In light of increasing challenges for the individual within the work process and concurrently growing flexibility, challenges are also increasing for educational and occupational guidance counsellors who prepare their clients and help them make suitable careers choices.
Following these two keynote speeches, participants at the Euroguidance Cross Border Seminar attended workshops held by 10 European countries. Two workshops from Austria emphasised the cooperation among educational guidance centres. "Do it like the spider: How network building can improve the access to Lifelong Guidance" (Kathrin Weinelt and Ingeborg Wilfinger from Bildungsinformation Burgenland [Educational Information Burgenland] and Katrin Reiter from Netzwerk Bildungsberatung Salzburg [Network Education Guidance Salzburg]) initiated a discourse on the practice of networking at four interactive work stations. The workshop "Online Guidance – Chances and Limits of a Nationwide Collaboration and the Method Itself", led by Barbara Oberwasserlechner and Barbara Glattauer (both from Bildungsberatung in Wien [Educational Guidance in Vienna]) introduced specific methods for this form of counselling and explained the advantages of cross-institutional cooperation. The workshop "Image in career coaching and vocational guidance" guided the participants through the counselling process toward self-reflection and the identification of objectives with visually oriented coaching methods (led by: Dorota Raniszewska, business trainer and coach, Poland).
Further workshop topics: "Guidance for a Happy Life“ (Ionana Panc, Titu Maiorescu University, Romania), "Applying psychological counselling in student career guidance" (Ivana Mrgan, guidance counsellor, Croatia), "Guide my W@y!" (Florian Kreutzer, University of Applied Labour Studies of the Federal Employment Agency, Germany), "Braveness vs performance? Overcoming the learned helplessness“ (Krisztina Molnar, TANDEM, Slovakia).
The tenth European seminar was held in Retz/AT this year. As this year's event marked an anniversary, it was held under the auspices of the Austrian Euroguidance Centre and in close cooperation with the other two founding countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Keynotes and workshops from 11 countries (AT, CZ, DE, HR, HU, PL, RO, SE, SL, SK) provided insights into current approaches and methods of participating countries. 81 counsellors from 14 European countries took part. The participants learned about Czech cooperation between companies and university career centres within the context of a field trip to Brno on June 8.
The detailed programme is available here:
Extensive seminar documentation will be published in autumn and is available at www.euroguidance.at.
Study "Hidden competences"
Documentation for seminars from previous years:
2014, Zagreb, HR: Counselling methods for fighting youth unemployment
2013, Warsaw, PL: Methods, Techniques and Tools to Diagnose Competences
Author: Karin Hirschmüller, Euroguidance Austria
Photo Credit: APA, Ludwig Schedl.