The Euroguidance Network

October 2009

In this edition:

Swedish guidance news

General guidelines on career education and guidance adopted in Sweden

New general guidelines on career education and guidance were issued by the Swedish National Agency for Education in March 2009. The guidelines are, in part, an answer to the shortcomings and deficiencies that were found in two assessments of Swedish school guidance, conducted in 2005 and 2007.

swedish guidelines

These assessments showed big differences in practice between different municipalities and a quite weak governance and management. All in all it seemed that career education had been given low priority. The purpose of the new guidelines is now to contribute to the improvement of career education and guidance and also to involve all school staff in the task.

The new general guidelines provide recommendations on how laws and regulations should be applied and promotes a uniform use of the legislation. The aim is also to influence development in a certain direction. The guidelines are followed by comments intended to clarify the advice given. The comments provide information on how the guidelines can be interpreted and why the legislation should be used.

There are four areas of priority in the guidelines;
  • Governance and management
  • Personnel and competences
  • Cooperation between schools and the working life
  • Information and guidance
In the first area of priority it is stated that ‘there should be a system…for planning, follow-up and evaluation of the goals of career education and guidance’ and that ‘the head of school should make it clear how…teachers, career counsellors and other personnel are to cooperate to provide career education and guidance’. In the comments it is emphasised that the overall ‘quality of career education is dependent upon how the municipality and school prioritise and organise their work’.

When it comes to personnel competences, the Swedish Education Act stipulates that only those who are qualified to work as a career counsellor can be employed as such in Swedish schools. Still, according to the previously mentioned assessments, only half of the employed guidance counsellors have this qualification.

The guidelines recommend that ‘the need for competence development…is continuously mapped and analysed’. Competences such as knowledge about working life, sector knowledge and counselling methodology are mentioned, but also digital competence and the ability to make use of available educational resources is essential, according to the guidelines.

Under the heading Cooperation between school and working life the guidelines emphasize how important it is that ‘the students have the opportunity to meet adult professionals and confront various tasks that exist in the working world and that the students’ work experience should be…related to teaching and guidance’. It is also said that the ‘contact with the working life can be particularly important for students who…do not like school’, as ‘this can give these students another opportunity to be appreciated and find other adult role models…’

Information and guidance should, according to curricula, help to counteract restrictions in the students’ educational and vocational choices based upon gender, social or cultural background. Here the guidelines stipulate that career education and guidance should ‘result in students’ ability to critically review information and an awareness of their responsibility to make their own educational and vocational choices’. The importance of being able to search and evaluate information about education and jobs and to prepare applications is also mentioned. 

The guidelines are based on laws, ordinances, rules and regulations and should therefore be followed in all municipalities and all schools, unless they can show that education is conducted in another way which fulfils demand. The hope is that the guidelines will contribute to:
  • Comprehensive and clear governance on all levels
  • Making career education and guidance a responsibility for the whole school 
  • More research in the area
Those who are interested in more details can find the whole set of guidelines on the website of Skolverket (The Swedish National Agency for Education). The document also includes excerpts from Swedish legislation in the area of guidance which have been translated into English.

General guidelines and comments on career education and guidance

Nina Ahlroos
Euroguidance Sweden