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The existence of guidance and counselling services
In Denmark, a range of guidance and counselling services are provided by a number of actors within the education and employment sector. The services are primarily aimed at young people up to the age of 30 years, but also include services for adults wanting to enter a higher education programme or for unemployed adults.
The Ministry of Children and Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and the Ministry of Employment are the responsible ministries.
Due to local government in Denmark, the municipal councils are responsible for the implementation of the local guidance and counselling of youth.
Furthermore, the private unemployment insurance funds also provide guidance for their members.
Guidance and counselling services must conform to the national guidance objectives
As of August 2019, a reform of the preparatory basic education has been implemented in Denmark. Part of the reform is a new act on guidance initiatives in the municipalities for young people under 25 years. According to the Act on Municipal Youth Measures (Lov om kommunal indsats for unge under 25 år, LBK nr 825 af 16/08/2019), the guidance provided to young people under 25 years must:
- Help to ensure that the choice of education and career will be of the greatest possible benefit to the individual and to society.
- Ensure that the individual obtains a realistic understanding of qualifications and demands in the education system and on the labour market.
- Be aimed particularly at young people who, without specific guidance, will have difficulties in relation to choice and completion of an education, training, and career.
- Take into account the interests and personal qualifications and skills of the individual, including informal competencies and previous education and work experience, as well as the expected need for skilled labour and self-employed businessmen.
- Contribute to limiting the number of dropouts and students changing from one education and training programme to another and ensure that the pupil or student completes the chosen education with the greatest possible academic/vocational and personal benefits.
- Contribute to improving the individual’s ability to seek and use information, including ICT-based information and guidance about the choice of education, educational institution, and career.
- Help to ensure coherence and progression in the individual’s guidance support.
- Be independent of sectoral and institutional interests. Therefore, guidance must be provided by practitioners with an approved guidance education or recognised competencies at the same level.
Furthermore, the Consolidation act on Municipal Provision for Young People under 25 (Lov om kommunal indsats for unge under 25 år,LBK nr 1301 af 04/09/2020) covers guidance in the education system for young people under 25 years and in the employment system for young people under 30 years. According to the act, the municipal council is responsible for guidance in relation to the choice of education and occupation. The guidance covers:
- Pupils in the 7th–9th grade and pupils in the 10th grade.
- Young people under 25 years not in education or employment.
- All young people under 25 years who contact the municipal council.
- When the municipal job centre makes a request, the municipal council can provide guidance for young people under 30 years with an instruction to start an education.
- Guidance must be organised as a coherent measure that introduces the young persons to all upper secondary educations.
Young persons in the 15–17-years age group (grades 7 to 9 (10)):
- By the end of the 9th grade, pupils must have an education plan.
- 15–17-year-olds are required by law to be in some sort of educational activity or activity with an educational perspective in accordance with their individual education plan.
- In the 8th and 10th grade, pupils participate in introduction courses and bridge-building activities in order to prepare them for choosing an upper secondary education.
- In the 9th grade, pupils assessed not-ready for upper secondary education can participate in bridge-building activities lasting 2–10 days.
- In the 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, pupils are assessed with regard to their readiness for all types of upper secondary education.
- For young people who are assessed as not yet ready for upper secondary education, the municipal council and the school must provide training or whatever is needed in order to qualify for a positive assessment. This could be special courses aimed at uncovering the interests and competencies of the young person and preparing him/her for education.
- Young people outside the school system also receive guidance. Municipal councils have outreach and follow-up measures that guide young people on education and employment.
Furthermore, according to the Act on Primary and Lower Secondary Education (Folkeskoleloven, LBK nr 1396 af 28/09/2020), Education and Employment is a mandatory subject from preschool class to 9th grade. The pupils must acquire skills to make education and career choices. Education and Employment includes three competence areas: personal choices, from education to employment, and work life. The teaching in Education and Employment must be organised in cooperation with the municipal youth guidance units.
- Guidance in the general and vocational upper secondary schools: Education institutions are obliged to support students in a way that enables them to complete their education. The institutions are free to choose their methods and choose the appropriate staff to support students in completing their education. Education institutions cooperate with the municipal youth guidance units (KUI) and the regional guidance centres (Studievalg) in order to have coherence in guidance.
- Guidance in the course of academy profession programmes and professional bachelor programmes: The academies of professional higher education and university colleges are obliged to support students in a way that enables them to complete their education. Students enrolled in an academy profession programme or professional bachelor programmes will therefore need support from the school staff such as teachers, guidance counsellors, or other professional staff supporting students in various ways. The institutions are free to choose their methods and choose the appropriate staff to support students in completing their education.
- Guidance at the Danish universities – completion and career guidance: The universities offer students at bachelor and master level guidance about their current programme, about access requirements for master and PhD programmes, and about subsequent employment opportunities. Each university is free to decide how and by whom this guidance is offered. In general, completion guidance and career guidance is divided between different bodies.
Guidance outside the education system
The Municipal Youth Guidance Units (kommunal ungeindsats) must establish a coherent cross-sectoral measure for all young people under 25 years. The measure coordinates education, employment, and social initiatives. The measure includes guidance.
According to the Act on Active Labour Market (Lov om en aktiv beskæftigelsindsats, LOV nr 548 af 07/05/2019), the municipal job centres are obliged to support job seekers with finding employment. For young people under the age of 30 years without an education leading to a vocational/professional qualification, the municipal support has a focus on education (uddannelsespålæg). Guidance is a central element of this municipal obligation. The rules vary with regard to when a young person is required to participate in an active labour market measure depending on whether the young person:
- Has unemployment insurance
- Is under 30, uninsured, and with no upper secondary education
- Is under 30, uninsured, and with an upper secondary education
Generally, the municipal job centres organise and conduct a flexible contact course in the form of individual interviews.
During the interviews, an individual plan is established. The plan contains the education or career objectives of the unemployed person and a strategy with a view to achieving them.
The municipality conducts at least four individual interviews during the first six months of unemployment.
The link with the youth guarantee scheme
In 2019, the European Commission stated that Denmark has a very advanced and well-established system for implementing the Youth Guarantee, which shows strong political commitment. The system is decentralised, allowing for the offers to be more in line with local needs. The scheme is built on a strong partnership approach, which allows for a tailor-made approach to offers, meaning that each young person is offered an appropriate mix of measures in the fields of education, social assistance, healthcare and employment. There is effective registration, which is linked to benefit entitlements, and also comprehensive and effective monitoring.
As Denmark has a well-established range of policy measures focused on early intervention and targeted support for unemployed youth, it is assessed that the commission’s statement also applies to the reinforced Youth Guarantee, which was adopted by the European Parliament in October 2020.
A key objective in the Danish youth policy is that young people complete an educational programme. It is clearly seen that young people without an ordinary education are overrepresented among the unemployed. The focus on education is a coherent effort that is ensured by personal education plans from primary schools, municipal youth measures, and job centres, among other institutions.
During the last decade, the Danish government has carried out extensive reforms to enhance initiatives of early intervention, measures to ease the transition into the labour market as well as ensuring that available benefits provide strong incentives for young unemployed people to achieve an education and actively search for employment.
Main providers and partnerships
Young persons and adults are entitled to guidance regardless of whether they are enrolled in an education, employed or neither. There are different types of guidance providers available.
Guidance and counselling providers in the education system (independent from sectoral and institutional interests):
- 98 municipal youth guidance units (Kommunal ungeindsats) provide guidance to young people under 25 years in relation to the transition from compulsory education to upper secondary education, or alternatively to the labour market. The national guidance portal provides citizens – young people and adults – with substantial career information.
- eGuidance (evejledning) provides individual and personal guidance to all citizens via various virtual communication channels: chat, telephone, text message, e-mail, webinars, and Facebook.
- Seven regional guidance centres (Studievalg Danmark) with responsibility for guidance regarding the transition from youth education to higher education.
- EducationZoom (Uddannelseszoom) is a virtual tool that compares higher education programmes on parameters such as job possibilities, expected future income, completion, drop out, quality of the education, etc.
Guidance and counselling providers in the employment system
- Unemployment insurance funds (a-kasser): Private unemployment insurance funds provide counselling services to their members regarding competency assessment and career guidance.
- Municipal job centres: Vocational guidance counsellors and job consultants provide guidance at the 94 job centres. Guidance is aimed at all individuals through job centres and the portal jobnet.dk (in Danish only). This service is for all unemployed persons and employers, and it provides information on job-seeking, education, and looking for new employees. It contains a job bank and a CV bank to help in finding new employees or a new job.
Denmark has established a strong partnership-based approach in the guidance and counselling services. Cooperation across sectors is a key issue. The objective of the municipal youth guidance units is to provide a coherent and cross-sectoral measure based on a cooperation between education, employment, and social efforts in the municipality. Furthermore, the municipal youth guidance units are thus obliged to cooperate closely with primary and lower secondary schools and youth education institutions in the area, as well as with local businesses and public employment services. The regional guidance centres are obliged to cooperate with relevant partners in their region. Relevant partners include youth education and higher education institutions, social partners, and industry and commerce.
Main users of the services
A wide range of guidance arrangements throughout the education system and in the employment system ensure that a young person receives guidance regardless of whether or not the young person is in education, training or employment.
Specific target groups
The Consolidation act on Municipal Provision for Young People under 25 (Lov om kommunal indsats for unge under 25 år,LBK nr 1301 af 04/09/2020) establishes that guidance must be aimed particularly at young people who, without specific guidance, will have difficulties in relation to the choice and completion of education, training, and career. Furthermore, the act establishes that the municipal council has a special obligation towards:
- young people assessed not ready for upper secondary education in the 8th, 9th, or 10th grade.
- young people in the 9th or 10th grade in great risk of not beginning or completing an upper secondary education.
Unemployed young people under 30 years of age are covered by the Act on Active Labour Market (Lov om en aktiv beskæftigelsindsats, LOV nr 548 af 07/05/2019). Employed people are covered in different ways by the act, though they are not the primary focus.
Aside from these specific target groups, the various Danish guidance services each target different groups, for instance young persons in upper secondary education programmes or young people and adults outside the education system who want to enter a higher education programme.
Most guidance and counselling services are publicly funded. The funding is shared between the state and the municipalities. The funding of each guidance service depends on the responsible authority.
The guidance and counselling services provided by the unemployment insurance funds (a-kasser) are based on membership. Members of the unemployment insurance funds pay a membership fee.
In Denmark, guidance and counselling services are subject to a number of quality assurance measures. The measures cover different parts of the guidance process.
Professional guidance is important. According to the Consolidation act on Municipal Provision for Young People under 25 (Lov om kommunal indsats for unge under 25 år, LBK nr 1301 af 04/09/2020), it is a requirement that guidance practitioners in the education system complete the diploma or master programme in educational and vocational guidance.
In order to inspire guidance practitioners, the Ministry of Children and Education is responsible for the development and running of a national centre of expertise for guidance. This includes activities such as collecting examples of best practice and knowledge within the field of guidance, quality development, coordination among different types of guidance services, as well as initiating analyses, surveys, and cross-sectoral experimental and developmental activities.
Municipalities are obliged to establish local targets and a framework for the guidance, including the choice of activities and method. The municipal council must publish the targets and the results of the guidance efforts.
According to the ministerial order on guidance, transparency in relation to the youth guidance centres’ activities and results are important in order to ensure a high level of quality. The objectives, methods, planned activities, as well as the performance of each centre are therefore published on the municipal websites. Furthermore, the Ministry of Children and Education has developed a set of guidelines that the centres have to use when they set up their own quality assurance system.
The regional guidance centres (Studievalg Danmark) also have quality assurance measures. The centres must produce and publish records on the scope, results, and impact of the guidance, as well as user surveys.
On the website of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the statistics and reports on the number of guidance sessions, arrangements, and user surveys can be found. Furthermore, the centres are obliged to improve the quality of the guidance on the basis of the acquired experiences.
The overall quality standard for offers to young people in the unemployment system is that all measures must be directed towards ordinary employment or ordinary education. The effort must be based on the specific wishes and skills of the individual unemployed person.
The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment (STAR) is responsible for implementing and following up on employment policies in Denmark. STAR monitors the measures in the local job centres and unemployment insurance funds (a-kasser). Furthermore, STAR collects evidence-based knowledge on active labour market measures, for instance in reviews and in the tool Employment Effects (jobeffekter.dk).