Skills Norway have just published a new report entitled International approaches to quality in career guidance which I researched and wrote for them. It looks at how a range of countries around the world define quality in career guidance.
It argues that the term quality can be used in a variety of ways by different countries and is based on interviews with informants in Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and South Korea to construct a series of national case studies. These case studies are presented in full in the report and provide insights into how different countries assure quality in career guidance.
The research builds on previous work that I have published with Susan Rice where we defined the different ways in which quality in career guidance can be defined. We argue that there are six domains of quality which countries can focus on: (1) career guidance policies, seeking to monitor, evaluate and check their effectiveness; (2) defining what kinds of organisations should be allowed to deliver career guidance and how those organisations should function; (3) considering what processes should be followed in quality career guidance provision and ensuring that these processes take place; (4) specifying what people can practice career guidance, what qualifications and skills they should have and defining how the profession should be organised and governed; (5) clarifying what outcome or outputs should be produced through the career guidance process and setting out how this can be observed and recognised; and (6) recognising the experience of the consumers and users of career guidance and finding ways to capture their perspective.
The paper draws together a number of conclusions that can inform future developments in Norway.
- Each country has assembled a patchwork of quality assurance approaches. This can be useful for ensuring that everything is covered, but there is also a need to avoid duplicating effort.
- No country has assembled a single quality assurance approach. Rather quality is assured by a series of decentralised systems across different sectors and jurisdictions.
- Career guidance quality systems are often embedded in wider quality systems that exist in the education or employment system.
- Systems tend to evolve over time rather than being designed at the outset. Where this happens with the involvement of multiple stakeholder it can lead to richer and more sustainable quality systems.
- A quality system cannot just be a framework that is written down. If it is going to have an impact it needs to be implemented and governed carefully.
The report concludes with a number of question and reflections that may be useful in guiding the future development of the quality assurance system for career guidance in Norway.