Guiding Cities - Integrated Career Guidance Services to Address Early School Leaving

Petre Botnariuc,
researcher at Institute of Education Sciences of Bucharest (Romania)

What is a "guiding city"? What players and institutions should be involved in its design and implementation?
Public policies in the last years have promoted extensive and more personalised educational, career and social support in an attempt to increase access and assure equal chances for everybody. Yet, all these support services are not easily reachable for each individual and on the other hand, have induced the so called state of „learned helplessness" for the individuals – as a passive attitude waiting for the public services to solve all their problems. In this context, it becomes important to make visible the bigger picture of all these services and to promote a critical use of them by the beneficiaries, harnessing them towards autonomy of individuals, rather than on dependency on the system. A guiding city is therefore, a city in which public policies for social, career and educational support are designed in coherent manner following an city overarching strategy, where practitioners from different services/fields know clearly their roles and strengths as well as that of the other services making proper use of referral according to the individual cases. It is also a city in which there is an effective coordination of services from different areas by a joint leadership. It also provides continuous professional development and proper means of communication among practitioners from different areas. Therefore, in the design and implementation of a "guiding city" should be involved different actors from local authorities, academia, service providers and NGO-s.
Why is it important to create a "guiding city"?
A „guiding city" is a citizen friendly city with support services focused on the needs of clients, where children in risk are identified and included in special prevention programmes, where pupils in difficulties are addressed in real time by professionals according to the specific needs and where adults lacking basic skills are supported through second chances programmes. A „guiding city" has efficient, effective and relevant support services – where resources are optimally used, objectives are thoroughly met and decision making is evidence based. By assuring effective communication and coordination between the different services the actual resources are known and exploited by all practitioners, the results of service evaluation, the real needs for change are properly integrated in the design and adjusting of the ongoing activity and competencies of staff are adequately used.
Why is the "Guiding Cities" project important for your organisation?
The Institute of Education Sciences is the national institute for research and development in education. it develops projects and partnerships in co-operation with national and international institutions. One of the five departments is School Counselling and Management which organizes research and development projects in the field of guidance and counselling and cooperates with the national network of psycho-pedagogical assistance centres. An important research topic is the professionalization of the career guidance and counselling occupation. To this end, the above mentioned department has organised debates with counsellors from different fields (employment, education, youth, health, legal officers, NGO-s) in order to explore commonalities and differences and possible standards for the profession of guidance counsellor. The „guiding city" project is an opportunity, on one hand to explore these issues with partners from other countries (Spain, Italy, Greece), and on the other hand to organise specific activities with decision makers and stakeholders in guidance and counselling in order to have an input for research and policy and to find means for better coordination of the guidance services provided by different fields.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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