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The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for career guidance policy related to the provision of quality career education, information and counselling services for pupils, students, adult learners, etc.. The Ministry of Education and Science establishes the procedure for the delivery of career information and careers education in the educational system. It is aimed that all pupils and students should have a possibility to receive services of career guidance in their educational institution, and these services would help them not only to prepare for their future career, but also to plan, develop and assess their career.
National Education Strategy (2013-2022) defines career guidance as one of the four strategic priorities for further development in education. Law on education (Švietimo įstatymas) defines career guidance as one of the forms of educational assistance. The purpose of career guidance is defined in the law as follows “by measures of career information, career counselling and career education to help a person to choose education and employment, to acquire career planning and management competences and to actively shape his professional career”. It also states that career guidance shall be provided in most educational institutions (general education schools, vocational training and other educational institutions, career guidance centres and other) in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Minister of Education and Science together with the Minister of Social Security and Labour, and in higher education schools – in accordance with the procedure laid down by these schools.
Law on Vocational Education and Training (Profesinio mokymo įstatymas) declares the accessibility of career guidance services for all citizens and refers to the career guidance being organised in educational institutions in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Minister of Education and Science together with the Minister of Social Security and Labour. It defines career guidance as integral part of VET. Law on Higher Education and Research (Mokslo ir studijų įstatymas) declares that “a higher education institution must provide career consultations to students”. The Law on Education and Law on Vocational Education and Training is followed by the Procedure on Implementation of Career Guidance (Profesinio orientavimo vykdymo tvarkos aprašas adopted by the Minister of Education and Science together with the Minister of Social Security and Labour in 2012. This document defines the way career guidance services (namely – career education, career information and counselling) are to be implemented in the educational sector on national, municipality and local (school) level. In the procedure career education aimed at development of career competences is defined as core career guidance service. The procedure does not specify the way career guidance is implemented in the employment sector by territorial labour exchanges as long as it is described in the Law on Support for Employment and subsequent legal acts. Career education programme (Ugdymo karjerai programa) was adopted by the Minister of Education and Science in 2012. It defines the career competences that have to be developed by the students at general education schools and VET schools and the way career education should be implemented throughout the curriculum. Action Plan for Development of Non-formal Adult Education and Further Training 2014-2016 (Neformaliojo suaugusiųjų švietimo plėtros 2014–2016 metų veiksmų planas) foresees career guidance services for adults.
Organisation and monitoring of career guidance services in general education schools is managed by local municipalities. The mandate for coordination of career guidance services on national level, development of methodology and evaluation of the needs for training and further professional development of guidance counsellors is given to Lithuanian Centre of Non-Formal Youth Education (Career Education Unit).
The website of Open Information, Consultation and Guidance System (AIKOS) is run by the The Ministry of Education and Science. It is an open information, counselling, and career guidance system providing a wide range of users with information on education and training oppurtunities. The aim of Open Information, Consultation and Guidance System (AIKOS) is to help any person residing in Lithuania to choose a marketable profession, which can be obtained for the first time or through re-training at Lithuanian or European higher and vocational schools, by accumulating, processing, and presenting easily accessible information to a wide range of users. AIKOS also aims to provide qualitative information on the possibilities of distant learning and inform and consult a wide range of users irrespective of their age helping to chose their own path in the sphere of education, training, and occupation and building their professional career.
In employment sector the Ministry of Social Security and Labour is responsible for career guidance policy related to the provision of quality career information and counselling services for job-seekers (youth and adults) including NEETs. The Ministry of Social Security and Labour establishes the procedure for implementing career guidance in the labour market system, i.e. it coordinates provision of career guidance services to the job seekers, employees, individuals with special needs, individuals who do not study and are unemployed etc. It is considered that all these individuals should have a possibility to receive services that would help them to choose a suitable job, profession; to change their qualification; to develop, assess and, if necessary, to adjust their vocational career plan; and to solve other issues of career guidance, in various structures of the labour market.
Law on Support for Employment (Užimtumo rėmimo įstatymas) defines that Lithuanian Labour Exchange through its territorial offices ensures provision of career guidance services to unemployed. Law on Social Integration of People with Disabilities (Neįgaliųjų socialinės integracijos įstatymas) defines career guidance as one of vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. The Ministry of Social Security and Labour carries the responsibility for the organisation of vocational rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Interinstitutional Action Plan for the Programme of Raising the Employment 2014-2020 (Užimtumo didinimo 2014–2020 metų programos įgyvendinimo tarpinstitucinis veiklos planas) was approved in 2014. In this plan measures to improve the quality and accessibility of face-to-face and online career guidance services, especially for adults and NEETs, are foreseen in order to ensure better matching of qualifications to the labour market needs and easier integration into the labour market. Action Plan for Implementation of Youth Guarantee Initiative 2014-2020 (Jaunimo garantijų iniciatyvos įgyvendinimo planas) was adopted in 2013. In this plan measures aimed at intensified career guidance service provision both in education and employment sector are defined. The plan was updated in May 2014. The Youth Guarantee funding is currently under-utilised for projects related to young entrepreneurship. Projects could be encouraged that combine entrepreneurial education, training, entrepreneurial learning, entrepreneurial experience and microfinance. Such initiatives could be co-ordinated by a one-stop shop (OECD, 2015).
The mandate for coordination of career guidance services on national level is given to Lithuanian Labour Exchange (with has its Local Labour Exchange Offices). Lithuanian Labour Exchange implement state employment guarantees on labour market, provide assistance for job seekers in finding job, provide employers with necessary skilled labour force, involve registered job seekers into population employment programs (vocational training and retraining, organisation of own business, placement into public works and works financed from the Employment Fund, establishment of new jobs, activities of job clubs) and pay unemployment benefits. The main objective of Lithuanian Labour Exchange is to help registered job seekers to find job according to their qualification and profession. For those who do not have profession or have non-marketable profession or for individuals who find it difficult to integrate into labour market, labour exchange offers to take part in active labour market policy programs e.g. vocational training,public works, works financed from the Employment Fund, starting of own business, job clubs, etc. In youth career guidance (i.e. information and counselling) services for jobseekers are provided by territorial labour exchanges offices and its structural divisions – youth job centres. Youth Job Centres and Local Labour Exchange Offices provide information to job seekers about the situation in the labour market, vacancies and the requirements for applicants, the nature and functions of the job, remuneration conditions, vocational training opportunities and conditions, educational institutions, available qualifications and services provided by the labour exchange. Information services are provided to job seekers individually or in groups, directly or via distance methods.
Youth Methodology Council (Jaunimo metodinė taryba) is a collegial voluntary committee, providing suggestions and recommendations for Lithuanian Labour Exchange, territorial labour exchanges as well as it’s youth job centres. The Council is led by the Lithuanian Labour Exchange and is composed of the representatives from the following institutions: Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Social security and Labour, Education Exchanges Support Foundation (i.e. National Lifelong Learning and Erasmus+ Agency), pupil’s and student’s organisations, Lithuanian Council of Youth Organisations as well as research and social partner’s organisations. The main focus of the Council is youth employment and career guidance for young people.
Career guidance (i.e. information and counselling) services for jobseekers (adults and youth) are provided by territorial labour exchanges, and its structural divisions – youth job centres. Career guidance services are funded from diverse resources such as state budget via pupil’s basket and own education institution’s resources, funds for active labour market measures, funds for unemployed, funds for Youth Guarantee Initiative, ESF funds.
A range of other institutions support the provision of career guidance services in education sector such as Centre of Information Technologies in Education and Euroguidance LT. Career guidance (i.e. career education, information and counselling services) are provided by general education schools and VET schools which organise provision of career guidance services to pupils according to the Procedure on Implementation of Career Guidance (2012). Majority of public and private HE school’s career centres or similar career related divisions provide career guidance services to students. Career Information Points are set up at general education and training schools, youth centres, non-formal development institutions. The network of Career Information Points is being continuously expanded. They provide information on career choices, training and employment opportunities in Lithuania and abroad and collect and analyse situation within the labour market.
Pedagogical-Psychological Services institutions are established in municipalities (they report directly to municipality administration). Among the service staff of Pedagogical-Psychological Services there are special educators and social pedagogues, speech therapists and psychologists who perform psychological and pedagogical assessments of the children development, advice parents and teachers on issues related to learning, behaviour, emotions and communication problems of learners with special needs or psychological difficulties, and provide recommendations on their further development.
Another approach to career guidance and counselling services is to use national, regional or city-level events such as “Career Days” and “Start-up Days” that promote and celebrate entrepreneurship, and provide youth with an opportunity to meet and interact with entrepreneurs. Such events are arranged in a co-operation between the local authorities and key stakeholders e.g. Junior Achievement, INVEGA and Enterprise Lithuania being the most active in the field. For example Enterprise Lithuania organises events to support start-ups to build connections or attract funding from Silicon Valley or European investors. This risk capital market is not well-developed in Lithuania, so the option of the “Road Show” is pursued which includes taking youth entrepreneurs to other markets. This is an expensive and resource-intense process when all of the promotion, selection, travel and follow-up are considered. A number of entrepreneurs benefit greatly from this opportunity and this might likely lead to positive outcomes for Lithuania, such as job creation. However, due to the nature of business angel and venture capital investment, high-tech businesses are often favoured excluding non-innovative and agricultural start-ups, therefore these programs sometimes excludes some of youth entrepreneurs in other areas.
The new National Action Plan on Entrepreneurship Promotion (2014-2020 developed by the Ministry of Economy in line with the EU Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. This action plan is the most comprehensive policy document focusing on the needs of SMEs in Lithuania. Youth are highlighted in the National Action Plan under two objectives. The first objective of the Action Plan is to develop a coherent entrepreneurship education system, covering all levels of the education system as well as training outside of the education system. Youth are also highlighted under the third objective, which is to promote and support entrepreneurship for selected target groups (youth and women). Planned actions under this objective include promoting entrepreneurship through Enterprise Lithuania, supporting a national business plan competition, increasing the availability of business counselling, coaching and mentoring. The significance for youth is underlined as the much of the plan is centred on youth. This Action Plan contains two supporting documents. The first identifies actions that will be undertaken to achieve the objectives and indicates a timeline, responsibility for implementation, funding source and key indicators. The second document outlines evaluation criteria to be measured. Enterprise Lithuania, for example, possesses a list of consultants that were utilised for various business support schemes. Progress has also been made towards developing an accredited body of consultants in order to ensure the efficiency and quality of the business and self-employment support services. This is a very good step towards ensuring the quality of the services delivered to start-ups and businesses and the effective use of government funding (OECD, 2015)
Access to finance is one of the strongest elements of the youth entrepreneurship support system in Lithuania. Although the financial market is small, the national government has a well-develop microcredit programme that is operated by the public agency INVEGA. Youth have preferential access to this support and can also benefit from free training and assistance in preparing their application for funding. The guarantee institution INVEGA founded by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on 29 November 2001 issues guarantees to credit institutions for microcredits, to new undertakings for loans for the taking up of a new business, to undertakings for loans aimed at business development as well as for loans used to finance the projects of the EU Structural Funds. Beneficiaries of these guarantees are micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with up to 250 employees, natural persons, who have business certificates.
The Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (EPF) is a microcredit programme in Lithuania (financed from ESF) managed by INVEGA. The EPF programme contributes to the goals of INVEGA which include the promotion of an entrepreneurial and self-employment culture in Lithuania and sustainable SMEs. EPF provides microloans, up to a maximum of EUR 25 000, to start-up entrepreneurs and the self-employed (those in business for under one year). An unusual and unique feature of the programme is that these microloans are part of a package of complementary support for beneficiaries. This complementary support includes free training, advice and additional financial support (e.g. interest rate subsidies, partial employee subsidies). INVEGA also offers loan guarantees of up to 80% of the value of the loan for those start-up businesses that create jobs and employ staff. The EPF aims to increase start-up entrepreneurship and self-employment in Lithuania and includes priority groups from disadvantaged and under-represented people in entrepreneurship. Included in priority groups are: young people under 29, older people over 50, people who are disabled and people who are unemployed (OECD, 2015).
Career guidance services are funded from diverse resources. In education sector these services are funded by: state budget via pupil’s basket (i.e. amount of money dedicated to one student’s education) for guidance and cognitive activities) for general education and VET schools (which provide general education alongside VET). Part of overall pupil’s basket (approx. 3 EUR per student) is dedicated to career guidance and study visits / activities. Another resources include: 1) state budget and own institution resources of VET schools and HE institutions; 2) ESF funds. In employment sector these services are funded by: 1) Funds for Active Labour Market measures /Funds for unemployed / Funds for Youth Guarantee Initiative (e.g. Lithuania presented a Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan on 18 December 2013 (updated in May 2014) and was eligible for the Youth Employment Initiative which has an allocation of 31.78 million euros (in current prices)); 2) ESF funds.
Provision of career guidance services at general education and VET schools is regulated by the Procedure on Implementation of Career Guidance (Profesinio orientavimo vykdymo tvarkos aprašas) adopted by the Minister of Education and Science together with the Minister of Social Security and Labour in 2012. No specific standards are being available, except for the higher education institutions which follow the Framework of Quality assurance of career management services for students (Studentų karjeros valdymo paslaugų srities kokybės gairės). The Framework encompasses description of principles for ensuring the quality of career resources, career practitioners, code of ethics, etc. General education and VET schools are being regularly audited according to the External Audit procedures for schools implementing secondary education programmes adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2007 (Mokyklų, vykdančių bendrojo ugdymo programas, veiklos išorinio vertinimo organizavimo ir vykdymo tvarkos aprašas), which include indicators related to the provision of career guidance services at schools.
Counsellors within Lithuanian Labour Exchange system are working according to the Quality Standard of Provision of Guidance Services. The standard defines the rules and procedures of providing guidance services for jobseekers. Lithuanian Labour Exchange also has a special Central Department of Internal Audit. This department also contributes to quality assurance of the system. Moreover, a special methodology for evaluation of active labour market measures is in action. The effectiveness of Youth Job Centres is evaluated by analysing quarterly activity reports, action plans, feedback from social partners and public opinion as well as organising monitoring and customer surveys.
Career guidance counsellor is not state-regulated occupation. School career coordinator who works within the general school level is required to 1) have a higher education degree; 2) have at least 3 months working experience with tasks related to activities with school students or counselling; 4) be aware of careers education related legislation, have a good command of ICT related to guidance tasks; 5) be aware of basics of document processing and record keeping; 6) be fluent in Lithuanian language; 7) have at least B2 level command of any foreign language. School career counsellor, who coordinates a group of assigned school career coordinators, is required to: 1) have a higher education degree; 2) have at least 1 year of working experience with tasks of counselling or consulting activities; 3) have a good knowledge of national guidance policies, systems and legislation; 4) have some experience in performing management tasks; 5) have a good knowledge of pedagogy and andragogy and ability to use it in practical work; 6) be aware of basics of document processing and record keeping; 7) have a basic computer literacy qualification according to national standard; 8) be fluent in Lithuanian language; 9) have at least B2 level command of any foreign language, preferably English, French or German. Requirements for counsellors of territorial labour exchanges and it’s youth job centres are these 1) degree of higher or equivalent education; 2) at least 1 year of work experience in the field of employment policy; 3) knowledge of relevant legislation; 4) information management and analytical skills; 5) skills of written and verbal communication, ability to produce official documentation; 6) good command of ICT; 7) knowledge of foreign language at C2 level.
Private companies set up their own requirements and standards for guidance practitioners. To improve the process of quality assurance the Lithuanian Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2014-2020 aims to create a national network of business consultants under the responsibility of Enterprise Lithuania which would be expected to improve the quality of training and consultancy services. Lithuania also needs to strengthen entrepreneurship training that occurs outside of the formal education system in rural areas in terms of availability and quality and ensure that training content is tailored to the needs of the region (OECD, 2015). Lithuania also needs to strengthen entrepreneurship services that occurs outside of the formal education system in rural areas in terms of availability and quality (OECD, 2015).
There are several study programmes for guidance professionals at Lithuanian higher education institutions. E.g. Vytautas Magnus University offers bachelor and master programmes in career counselling and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, Klaipėda University and Šiauliai University offer master programmes of the same profile. At Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences and at some other higher education institutions short specialised courses (2-4 credits) on career development and career counselling are offered. In education sector courses for further development of school staff (including professionals acting as career counsellors or career coordinators) are being regularly offered by licensed educational institutions.