02 SES 11 A, Transitions and Guidance
Policies implemented at European level addressing career guidance in the context of Vocational Education and Training (VET) have led to numerous proposals that emphasise the need to develop services and actions designed to provide lifelong guidance for all. This paper conducts an analysis of the current state of guidance in VET in Andalusia and formulates a series of action proposals based on the concept of comprehensive career guidance set out in the European Commission’s recommendations. The European Commission defines it as a continuous process that enables citizens at 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 those capacities and competences are learned and/or used” (EU 2008, C 319/4). Specifically, the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELPGN) considers career guidance in VET as “a range of activities and products that assist young people to know and understand vocational learning pathways and choices prior to and at entry to VET to link these to further vocational learning and work opportunities, and to make successful transitions to those opportunities. (ELPGN, 2015, p. 33)
Recent recommendations and declarations developed within the EU (European Council Recommendation 24/11/2020 on VET for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience; Osnabrück Declaration 11/2020; European Skills Agenda 2020) underline the importance of career guidance provision in VET. CEDEFOP (2020) also refers to the role of career guidance as an essential element in future scenarios.
Based on European studies and recommendations, some of the essential elements that should characterise the provision of career guidance in VET are as follows:
a) Development of an integrated guidance system in which all of the stakeholders involved work collaboratively under a common plan that makes lifelong guidance available for all.
b) A guidance process focused on developing the competences needed to manage both careers and the transitions that occur during a lifetime.
c) Personnel appropriately qualified for the functions they need to perform and the post they hold.
d) Use of experiential methodologies that put into practice acquired knowledge, self-knowledge skills and attitudes, social skills, planning, commitment to learning, search for and selection of information about training and career opportunities, exploration of the world of work, decision-making and construction of transitional pathways.
e) Generation of teaching resources based on information and communication technologies, ensuring accessibility to high-quality career guidance and information for all.
f) Development of systems to assure the quality of the guidance provided, involving all stakeholders and including rigorous systematic gathering of evidence with which to draw up improvement plans and perform appropriate follow-up.
g) Adoption of a perspective of fairness and social justice from which to address factors that may obstruct the development of meaningful, free and motivated careers. In this regard, situations involving particular social vulnerability should be considered.
h) Adoption of a crosscutting gender perspective applicable to all actions with the objective of narrowing the gender gap in access to certain vocational profiles.
The purpose of the project was: 1) to perform a diagnosis of the current situation as regards career guidance in the context of VET; 2) to develop a collaborative process via which to draw up proposals for action and improvement in career guidance in Andalusia; and 3) to implement a participatory process to test and review those proposals with various stakeholder.
The project was jointly sponsored by Andalusia’s regional Department of Education and Fundación Bankia por la Formación Dual.
A collaborative and participative approach was adopted that enabled the authors to gain a holistic view of the issue, achieved not only by listening to different voices, but also by doing so interactively. The initial approach derived from the consideration that in order to generate transformation and change the main stakeholders and protagonists must be involved in the process from the start. As regards the qualitative information, this essentially derived from creative idea generating sessions inspired by Design Thinking (Brown, 2008) and conducted in two groups. The first comprising technical staff from Andalusia’s regional Departments of Education, and of Employment and Training (lead group). The second comprised a panel of experts drawn from a variety of fields (educational and career counsellors, VET instructors, and business representatives). Finally, a session was held to review the proposals on career guidance in VET in Andalusia. Over 100 representatives of various stakeholder groups, among them students, families, instructors, educational and career counsellors, companies, and guidance counsellor trainers, attended it. The process was as follows: a) Lead group session 1: identification of areas of interest. b) Lead group session 2: production of a SWOT analysis of the current situation regarding career guidance in VET in Andalusia. c) Expert panel session: Design Thinking process, completion of the SWOT analysis and drafting of action proposals. d) Sessions reviewing the proposals with stakeholder groups. e) Joint session between the lead group and the expert panel to review the action proposals. In addition to the debates, ideas and questions raised by the people participating in this research process, documentary sources available in the European, national and regional contexts were used. In this regard, we took into account that the analysis of the current situation regarding career guidance in Andalusia had to be approached from a systemic perspective contextualised by the policies adopted at national, European and international level. The initial diagnosis of the situation analysed the following: a) the socioeconomic context; b) the situation regarding VET in Andalusia; and c) the characteristics of career guidance provided in the context of VET in Andalusia. Based on the information generated and gathered, needs and opportunities for action were detected and the essential elements that should characterise the provision of comprehensive lifelong career guidance in the context of VET were identified.
- Planning of career guidance integrated into the curriculum throughout schooling: a) The lack of a planned and integrated curriculum to develop career management skills as part of the lifelong learning process; b) Weak regulatory implementation at regional and national level. - Support of successful completion and return by VET students: a) The high percentage of early leaving; b) Gender gaps; c) A high degree of mobility between VET programmes. - Improving knowledge and awareness of VET: a) Although VET is viewed increasingly positively, families still do not consider it a primary option; b) The lack of lifelong career guidance plans. - Appropriate academic organisation and planning of VET: The ratio of guidance counsellors to students is too high. - Appropriate training and selection of career guidance counsellors: a) Initial and continuing training of teaching staff includes little or no content on career guidance; b) The functions performed by counsellors ant schools focus more on educational than on career guidance. - Innovative career guidance and training methodologies and resources: a) In provision of guidance, priority is given to one-off and eminently informative actions; b) There are good VET practices that use innovative methodologies based on the development of personal and social competences, although there is little information about their impact. - Development of specific systems to assure the quality of Career guidance: a) The sector’s evaluation culture is still nascent; b) The professional information necessary to provide high-quality career guidance is fragmented and is not always up-to-date or easily attainable. - Company involvement: a) Despite the necessity of their contribution to on-the-job training and the dual VET model, it is very low. Taking into account these needs we propose 28 objectives and 57 actions related to 8 challenges.
CEDEFOP (2020). Vocational education and training in Europe, 1995-2035. Cedefop reference series 114. Publications Office of the European Union-CEDEFOP series. COMISIÓN EUROPEA (2008). Incluir mejor la orientación permanente en las estrategias de educación y formación permanente. Resolución del Consejo y de los representantes de los Estados. Recuperado de http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LesUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2008:319:0004:0007:ES:PDF. COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 24 November 2020 on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience (2020/C 417/01) ELPGN (2015). Guidelines for Policies and Systems Development for Lifelong Guidance: A Reference Framework for the EU and for the Commission. The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network. European Commission (2020a). European Skills agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience. EU. European Commision (2020b). Osnabrück Declaration on vocational education and training as an enabler of recovery and just transitions to digital and green economies. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/osnabrueck_declaration_eu2020.pdf
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