Due to European Union policy, career guidance has become a key element of learning and employment policies.

Leonardo Evangelista, Project coordinator for ASEV, career guidance trainer and facilitator 

 

Could you explain to us, as coordinator of the project IMPROVE, what it entails? 

IMPROVE: Improving Validation of Not-Formal Learning in European Career Guidance Practitioners is an international project co-financed by the European Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme, Grundtvig measure. The IMPROVE project aims to develop and test guidelines for competence recognition of career guidance practitioners. The project website is available at http://www.improveguidance.eu/. So far we have produced the Study on Existing Frameworks to Validate Competence of Career Guidance Practitioners and the IMPROVE Guidelines for the validation of competent workers. The Guidelines describe, in detail, a set of principles about theoretical approach, assessment process structure, measurement tools and the features of evaluators needed to develop and manage effective and sustainable validation frameworks.

In a few weeks we will begin a pilot in the six partner countries where we will test a tool (the professional check up) to recognize competent career guidance practitioners. The tool is based on the PFI Performance Focused Interview, whose blueprint has been developed by project partners.

Do you consider that the career guidance practitioner is a great unknown?

The situation is differentiated amongst different countries. Due to European Union policy in the last 10 years, career guidance has become a central ingredient of lifelong learning and employment policies. For this reason, in most European countries career guidance activities and practitioners have been the subject of many studies and the sector is quite well known. For example in Italy ISFOL, a public research body, has just published the second edition of the Rapporto Nazionale sull’Orientamento (National Report on Career Guidance) that has conducted a census of 20.000 organizations delivering career guidance in Italy.

In what situation does this professional find him/herself today related to the validation of his/her competence and validation of not-formal learning? 

Again, the situation is differentiated amongst EU countries. In some of them, for example in the UK, The Netherlands or France, validation of competence (notwithstanding how it has been developed) is possible. In many other is planned but not yet operational.

What are the most relevant issues related to recognizing competent Career Guidance practitioners? How does the IMPROVE project and related activities support an innovation within guidance processes, services or guidance systems?

One of the issues is who is doing that recognition of competenceand managing the process. In many countries career guidance is regulated by many different stakeholders (for example the labour and education central ministries, regional authorities, universities) and correctly practitioners themselves want a say on the process. So far in EU countries bringing all the stakeholders to agree on a single framework has proved very challenging. Some IMPROVE partners are connected with national career guidance practitioners associations, and some countries (IT, EL, DE) have involved them in the pilot. In Italy the pilot will be used to create a Register of career guidance practitioners. The general idea is to start a process for the recognition of career guidance practitioners form the bottom up, and to create a European network of awarding bodies.

Another way of innovation is to develop a framework for accreditation that is more effective and easier to operate than the existing ones.

What is to you “career guidance” and what competencies must a practitioner possess?

I agree with the definition given by the European Council: Career guidance can be defined as a range of activities that enables citizens of any age and at any point in their lives to identify their capacities, competences and interests, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to manage their individual life paths in learning, work and other settings in which these capacities and competences are learned and/or used. Examples of such activities include information and advice giving, counselling, competence assessment, mentoring, advocacy, teaching decision-making and career management skills.

Resolution of the Council and of the representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on Strengthening Policies, Systems and Practices in the field of Guidance throughout life in Europe, Brussels, 18 May 2004.