Education, training and employment policy-makers as well as individuals have various expectations for career guidance. Career guidance, vocational guidance and guidance counselling are expected to help the individual make meaningful and successful choices, decisions and solutions regarding their career, education and training
Finns have usually received career guidance and counselling alongside guidance counselling when, for example, transferring from comprehensive school to upper secondary school and from upper secondary school onwards. The Employment and Economic Development Offices, in turn, have offered career guidance and counselling for people experiencing changes in their working life. However, this is about to change as the aforementioned counselling services are planned to be reorganised. In the future, the career guidance services may be produced by private, public and third-sector operators with diverse educational backgrounds. In this new situation, the key question is the quality of the guidance and counselling services provided by such operators; the service providers must be professionals who have been trained to provide career guidance and counselling and possess solid working life skills.
The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) has highlighted evidence-based decision-making and professional practice regarding career guidance. It also emphasises the study of the impacts of operational policy concerning career guidance at the levels of the individual, the career guidance community, region and nation; the guidance system should be developed and reviewed as a whole. From the perspective of lifelong guidance, the objective is to ensure continued career guidance and counselling for anyone who needs it, regardless of whether they are participating in education or training and whether they are employed. One way to meet these needs is to find new types of solutions for developing the career guidance skills of different professional groups.
Two specialist training options for career guidance and counselling in Finland
So far, university-level career guidance studies have not been available in Finland. For a long time, guidance counsellor studies have offered a way to study both guidance and career guidance, but this has required previous studies in teacher education. Now, a new career path – specialist training for career guidance and counselling – has been established as a result of a project initiated in 2016 for professionals from backgrounds other than teaching.
Specialist training for career guidance and counselling promotes the professional development and specialisation of people who have completed an academic degree and are already employed or otherwise participating in working life. The training was planned and executed in cooperation with commercial and economic life.
At the moment, there are two specialist training options for career guidance and counselling in Finland, providing training for more than 100 career guidance and counselling professionals. These training options are implemented as a networked cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences. The options are based on the same competence but there are differences in the emphases of their implementation. This article explores the training option provided by the schools of vocational teacher education in five universities of applied sciences (Haaga-Helia, HAMK, JAMK, OAMK and TAMK) and the University of Jyväskylä.
Training for career guidance and counselling professionals
Whose needs does the specialist training meet? In practice, we can identify at least five types of career guidance and counselling providers: education providers, in other words educational institutions, offer career guidance and counselling services for their pupils and students both in the application stage preceding the studies and in the career planning stage after the studies. Employment and Economic Development Offices serve unemployed job seekers and employees considering a change of career. Employers offer services to their employees. In the last few years, there has been an increasing number of businesses producing career guidance and counselling services directly to clients or as outsourcing services. The fifth group is the third sector, in other words organisations offering their members career guidance and counselling and more specialised services, such as rehabilitation guidance.
The current specialist training for career guidance and counselling has participants from all of the aforementioned career guidance provider groups. The goal in the application stage was to form the most multidisciplinary student group possible to enable them to enrich our concept of the diversity of career guidance in Finland through networking and peer collaboration. This diversity relates to both the operating environments and the processes and working methods of the guidance.
Lifelong need for career guidance and counselling
Specialist training for career guidance offers professionals of various fields the opportunity to develop and deepen their career guidance and counselling skills and expertise. People need lifelong career guidance. The objective should be continued career guidance for anyone who needs it, regardless of whether they are participating in education or training and whether they are employed. The field of career guidance is facing continuous change.
The objective of specialist training for career guidance and counselling is to develop and deepen the skills and expertise of professionals from various fields engaged in career guidance and counselling tasks. After completing the training, the participants are able to analyse career guidance and counselling as part of the more extensive shift in working life and society as a whole. They are familiar with the theoretical background of career guidance and counselling and know how to apply information provided by various branches of science as part of their own professional guidance policies.
Another objective is to know how to plan and execute individual and customer-oriented career guidance processes. The participants are able to recognise the ethical requirements of guidance work and build a confidential, interactive customer relationship in individual and group guidance, both face-to-face and in digital guidance sessions.
Some of the key contents of the training include assessment and development competence; the participants assess their own professional career guidance and counselling policies and the implementation, quality and impact of guidance services offered by various parties from the perspective of lifelong guidance. The objective is that the participants know how to form and maintain multidisciplinary cooperation networks that are meaningful for their work. Another objective is that, after completing the training, the participants are able to plan, market and organise functional career guidance and counselling services for the changing operating environments.
A cooperation group was established in the specialist training for career guidance to monitor changes in the field and ensure that the training corresponds with working life. The key stakeholders representing working life and the guidance training units of universities and universities of applied sciences are represented in the cooperation group.
In the future, the new concept of specialist training for career guidance and counselling is planned to be combined with follow-up research to monitor the development of skills and the participants’ career paths.
The author is a Principal Lecturer of guidance and career guidance at HAMK University of Applied Sciences and an Adjunct Professor of Education at the Professional Teacher Education Units of the Universities of Jyväskylä and Tampere.
This article is a part of a series of articles about guidance in Finland. The series of articles is published by Euroguidance and EPALE teams at the Finnish National Agency for Education. The articles are published throughout Finland’s EU Presidency, approximately one article per month.