Why did your organization want to participate in the IMPROVE project?
Assessment, validation/recognition, certification of competence is a hot topic, nowadays, in Italy and in many other European countries. We (ASEV
) decided to submit the project to study this issue in depth and to get an overview of the main approaches and existing frameworks for accrediting career guidance practitioners. This is the reason why we chose to develop, within the project, a Study on existing frameworks http://www.improveguidance.eu/sites/default/files/Evangelista_2.pdf
, a set of Guidelines on validating competence of people at work http://www.improveguidance.eu/sites/default/files/Guidelines.pdf
and a (still being produced) Guide to Validation of Not Formal Learning in Career Guidance Practitioners. An additional interest was to work at European (and Italian) level toward a system for really validating the competence of career guidance practitioners. At the moment the only international system of this kind is the framework developed by IAEVG
. This system, in my view, has many pitfalls, described in the Study already quoted. The main pitfall of the IAEVG system, in my view, is that the procedure of accreditation is managed not by national career guidance practitioners’ Associations, but by an American organization.
In your opinion, what is the benefit for your context?
Thanks to the IMPROVE Project Italian career guidance practitioners and sector stakeholders (trainers of career guidance practitioners, decision makers, users of the career guidance services, organizations employing career guidance practitioners) have available a grid for classifying and judging the existing frameworks for accrediting career guidance practitioners and a set of Guidelines to improve these frameworks or developing new ones. Furthermore, the Project has refined and piloted in partner countries a procedure coherent with the Guidelines (the Professional Checkup) useful for assessing the competence of career guidance practitioners when delivering career guidance interviews and improving it. Over 80 career guidance practitioners have carried out their own Professional Checkup, and 14 of these have been trained and practiced as evaluators of competence using the Professional Checkup methodology. The Study, the Guidelines and the Checkup have been promoted in Italy in several conferences and websites, so many practitioners and other stakeholders are informed about it. Thanks to the Project, three Italian career guidance practitioners Associations have decided to develop a national Register of career guidance practitioners.
How would you briefly describe the IMPROVE pilot experience?
An answer at different levels can be given. From an intellectual point of view, to study the existing frameworks and developing a grid for classifying them has been for me (I wrote the Study) very challenging, but I am very happy with the result. Another point worth stressing is that as a Partnership, we arrived to a common synthesis with the Guidelines. This, also, was not given at the beginning. When a theme is rather new or is dealt with differently in different countries, as in the case of validation of competence, it can be very difficult to arrive to a common glossary and result. I have participated and know other European projects where this has not been possible. In the project IMPROVE instead the Partnership has brought real added value, because thanks to the different national approaches and knowledge the Guidelines can be applied in the different European countries. The same applies to the Professional Checkup, even if in the pilot we focused only on delivering career guidance interviews with adults. Facilitating groups with adults and delivering career guidance in schools are still could also be agreed upon, as part of the exploitation Work package. A final hint is the strong interest attracted by the project in Italy.
What types of resources, tools, and activities do practitioners in your context use to improve their competence, abilities and skills?
In Italy the traditional means are attending courses and workshops in career guidance, reading books and websites and participating to conferences. This is the reason why the Professional Checkup, that helps to think about and frame the practitioner’s own performance, to discuss it with another expert practitioner (the evaluator) and to compare it with an optimum standard is very innovative and attracted so much interest.
In the guidance context, do you consider that knowledge of or day to day conscious use of theoretical frameworks to be missing?
Yes, it is missing and should be improved. But what we need is not that practitioners only know names or theories of important authors, but rather that practioners are able to reflect on their practice, extract from it the principles they follow and improve them if needed. Professional practice is not like an exam at the university, and just to know the names and theories of some authors, in and of itself, doesn’t improve professional practice. I also have to say that too often academia, at least in Italy, produces studies and theories that are far from the needs of practitioners.
More broadly, how would you describe the guidance (professional and academic) context in your country? Could you highlight examples of good practice?
The professional and academic practice related to career guidance in Italy is lively and widespread. There are about 20.000 people delivering career guidance and a number of conferences, workshops, training courses, journals and websites, professional associations. To list good practices would take too much, but I can say that when I participate to international conferences (the next one will be in Mannheim, next October) I see that the professional practice I know in Italy is at same level of the other countries.