Short Report: Supporting lifelong learning
The Peer Review was held in Riga on 24th and 25th November 2005 and hosted by the Latvian Ministry of Welfare. In addition to the host country, ten peer countries participated in the review: Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, and the United Kingdom.
The reasons for developing livelong guidance and counselling services in Latvia are based on a high overall unemployment rate (the average of 7.7% varies between 4.5 and 27.9% depending on the region) with a high share of long-term unemployment. Due to increasing emigration within the last few years and the inappropriate qualification of the remaining workforce, there is a labour shortage in Latvia. The relatively high share of the informal economy (it is estimated that the informal sector covers approximately 14 to 20% of the GDP in Latvia) has also to be taken into account.
Supporting lifelong learning through career counselling and guidance is part of the Latvian human resources development policy. The strategy involves enhancing competitiveness and the quality of the workforce as well as encouraging the inactive to integrate into the labour market. Guidance and counselling services which are free of charge and allow free access to all are seen as preventive measures to combat unemployment. They aim at discouraging young people from leaving education early, facilitating the integration of groups at risk into education and employment and at reducing poverty.
There are a number of actors involved in the delivery of career counselling and guidance in Latvia. The lead agency is the Professional Career Counselling State Agency which is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Welfare. Also under the aegis of the Ministry of Welfare and responsible for carrying out certain actions are the Public Employment Service and the Social Integration Centre. The Ministry of Education and Science (the Vocational Education Development Agency and the National Youth Initiative Centre) as well as the municipalities also play a role in the delivery of the programme. Regarding the large number of different institutions involved, most of the peer countries felt that there is a lack of harmonisation between the services. The one-stop-shop was brought into the discussion as an example of effective implementation avoiding too many actors.
The discussion focussed on the importance of evaluation, e.g. of the effectiveness of the guidance services. There was also some discussion on the possibility of generating more information on the subjects studied by graduates and on forecasting skills needs. In general the peer countries agreed on the importance of counselling during transition periods.
The activation of certain client groups was also considered important with regard to strengthening social capital.
Aspects of Transferability
There was a common understanding of the need to provide guidance services to individuals most disadvantaged on the labour market (e.g. early school leavers without qualifications, individuals from ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and people who are not registered unemployed). The participants agreed on the importance of co-operation between the different bodies at national but also at regional and local level in order to develop further the provision of guidance services to all targeted individuals.
The Latvian experience with the implementation of career counselling and guidance was of great interest for all concerned. It emerged clearly from the discussions that the peer countries all face the same challenges in the promotion of training to enterprises and in linking good quality vocational guidance to labour market demand. It was again emphasised that participating countries can learn not only from each others‚ successful but also from each others‚ less successful experiences.
Discussion Paper - Raika Karnite
Statements and Comments
Participating independent experts
Jacobs Center for Lifelong Learning
WRC - Social and Economic Consultants Ltd.
Fondazione G. Brodolini
|Institute of Labour and Social Research
|Erasmus University Rotterdam, SEOR B.V.
|National Scientific research Institute for Labour and Social Protection - INCSMPS
|Slovak University of Technology
|University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences
|University of Derby, Centre for Guidance Studies