The Euroguidance Network

October 2009

In this edition:

Update on ELGPN

National solutions to national challenges in lifelong guidance practice and policy development

Hilary Lynch from Euroguidance Ireland interviewed Dr. Raimo Vuorinen, who is currently working as Coordinator of the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research in the University of Jyväskylä.

Dr. Vuorinen 
Raimo Vuorinentalks about ELGPN, why it
has been established and what are the key activities of the network.

What led to the network being set up?

During the Irish 2004 EU Presidency The Resolution of the Council and of the representatives of the European Union Member States meeting within the Council on Strengthening Policies, Systems and Practices in the field of Guidance throughout life in Europe (May 2004) invited Member States to ‘seek to ensure effective co-operation and co-ordination between providers of guidance at national, regional and local levels in the provision of guidance services’. The resolution invited ‘to build on and adapt existing structures and activities (networks, work groups, programmes) related to the implementation of the resolution priorities’.

At the end of 2005, the Commission initiated a discussion with its Expert Group for Lifelong Guidance on what would constitute a suitable mechanism to support the European Union lifelong guidance policy implementation at national level involving relevant ministries and other bodies responsible for education and labour-force issues. The Expert Group noted that many of the desirable developments flagged by the Council Resolution could only be achieved if the structures supporting policy and systems development are strengthened.

A first exchange of views on the future mandate and activities of a possible European Guidance policy network took place among Member States' representatives at the Finnish EU Presidency Conference on “‘Lifelong Guidance Policies and Systems: Building the stepping stones’ (November 2006). The Conference workshop conclusions stressed that the fragility of lifelong guidance policies at national level called for a strong and stable mechanism at European level to encourage more sustainable development at national level and support both policy development and implementation. This mechanism should build upon, and in due course replace, the work of the Expert Group for Lifelong Guidance.

In March 2007 a the Commission invited representatives of the countries eligible for assistance under the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 for a preparatory meeting to explore the potentials for the network. The Commission was willing to continue to assist the process, in particular with the help of Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training), and could also offer financial support. In the inaugural meeting the participating countries gave Finland a mandate to co-ordinate the ELGPN during the implementation phase of it.

When was the ELGPN established?

An inaugural meeting in establishing the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network, ELGPN took place May 7-8, 2007 in Helsinki, Finland. Delegations from the Member States were invited to clarify their expectations and intentions on the potential network.

Altogether 23 countries attended the meeting with representatives from the Commission, FEDORA, the IAEVG, the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policies (ICCDPP) and the European Social Partners. The ELGPN was established by a contract between the network coordinator and the Commission DG EAC in December 2007.

What is the role of the ELGPN?

The role of the ELGPN was described in more detail during the French 2008 EU Presidency within the EU Council Resolution on better integrating lifelong guidance into lifelong learning strategies.

The Council invited the Member States and the Commission with their respective competences, to strengthen European cooperation on lifelong guidance provision, in particular through the ELGPN, with the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme, and in liaison with Cedefop.

The ultimate aim of the ELGPN is to provide added value to the participating countries for the development and implementation of their lifelong guidance policies, systems and services and act as a tool for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to work together and share examples of good practice.

From wider policy perspective the ELGPN was created to meet the challenges in implementing the Lisbon strategy. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)  and ECVET  are tools to enhance national reforms. A third added value of ELGPN is to support policy makers who are looking for tools to support these national reforms.

The working methods provide a context for jointly agreed functions of the ELGPN, which can be launched gradually, and expanded over the next few years. These include
  • Support for policy development
  • Policy sharing
  • Information gathering
  • Policy analysis and research
  • Use of reference tools
  • Exploiting project outcomes
  • Strengthening representative structures
Who are the member countries?

Membership of the ELGPN is open to each of the countries eligible for assistance under the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013. The participating countries have designated their representatives in the network as delegations. At present the ELGPN has 26 countries as full members and 3 countries as observers. The network ensures also regular contact with other relevant bodies or networks at national, European or international level, such as IAEVG, FEDORA and Euroguidance.

What are the future plans of the ELGPN?

In order to meet previously mentioned long term goals the ELGPN will be developed through a step-by-step approach. The peer learning events in 2008 have turned out to be very useful in setting the following four priorities for the Thematic Actions during the second phase of the ELGPN work programme 2009-2010.

The aim of the first Thematic Action is to define career management skills within a broader framework, by drawing, for instance, on the EU Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, and on OECD and UNESCO reports on key competences. It aims to identify existing competence frameworks at national level which are already available, and which reflect the key competences needed in life.

Secondly, the activity will identify ways in which guidance provision can support career management skills development, for both young people and adults, and from a lifelong perspective. The long-term objective is to examine the interface between career management skills and key lifelong learning competencies

With the thematic Activity on Access the aim is to explore ways in which to improve equality of access to career guidance for all sections of the population, including the scope for clarifying citizens’ rights to career guidance, linked to the social contract between the state and the citizen, and the interface between lifelong guidance and the flexicurity models in ELGPN member countries. 

Thirdly the ELGPN will continue co-operation with Cedefop in supporting ELGPN member countries in implementing the recommendation of the Council Resolution 2004 on the establishment of national coordination mechanisms for lifelong guidance policy and systems development.

A fourth Thematic Action addresses the recommendations of the Council 2004 Resolution on the development of quality-assurance systems for guidance services and products from a user perspective and on the need for an evidence base for developing policies for guidance provision and resources. It builds on the

  • previous Cedefop studies of indicators and benchmarks in career guidance at European level and of quality-assurance systems for guidance,
  • on the Cedefop peer learning activity in the fields of Quality Assurance systems and indicators held in 2004/05,
  • on the EU common reference points for such systems,
  • on the recommendations based on these studies produced by the European Commission’s Lifelong Guidance Expert Group,
  • on the existing national initiatives on quality-assurance systems and
  • on evidence-based practice and policy development in ELGPN member countries.
A long-term objective for this Thematic Action is to further elaborate the meta-criteria for quality assurance included in the EU common reference tools on lifelong guidance. The activity aims to identify the existing evidence of guidance outcomes as a part of the quality-assurance discussion. A long-term goal is to establish a link between indicators for lifelong guidance provision and the EU indicators on education and training systems.

In addition to the Thematic Actions the 2009-2010 work programme includes two task groups with the focus on the synergy between EU funded guidance projects and on EU policy documents related to lifelong guidance. 

During this second phase the ELGPN has cooperation with the Spanish 2010 EU Presidency which hosts a third EU lifelong guidance policy conference in May 2010. The deliverables of the thematic actions will contribute the discussions during the conference and provide a basis for the priorities of the forthcoming ELGPN work programmes. 

ELGPN website

Hilary Lynch, Euroguidance Ireland

Raimo Vuorinen short cv

Dr. Raimo Vuorinen is currently working as a Project manager and Coordinator of the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research in the University of Jyväskylä.

Part of his work is allocated to a development project funded by the Finnish ministry of education 2007-2009. The project enhances more solid evidence base for lifelong guidance policy development as well as developing the National centre for lifelong guidance expertise, established in the university in January 2006.

In his work as a trainer and researcher Raimo Vuorinen has been focusing on the strategic design, implementation and evaluation of lifelong guidance services.

Another key interest is lifelong guidance policy development. He has been engaged in various national evaluations, development projects and in-service programmes in the area of vocational and educational guidance from comprehensive education to higher education in Finland. He has also contributed the OECD and European Union evaluations on guidance policies in 2000-2004. He was a member of the Commission Lifelong Guidance Expert Group 2002-2007. He is a Board member of the International Association for Vocational and Educational Guidance, IAEVG and the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policies, ICCDPP.

Raimo Vuorinen is also known of his interest of Information and Communication technology in guidance and especially in managing the guidance provision. His PhD thesis (2006) focused on the perceptions of the practitioners on use of ICT in guidance.