15 Jun Career Guidance for Youth – Investment in the Future (A.C.T.I.V.)
Name of the Project
Career Guidance for Youth – Investment in the Future (A.C.T.I.V.)
Country, City, Neighbourhood
Romania, Moldova Region (counties of Iași, Neamț, Suceava, Bacău, Vrancea, Galați, Botoșani, Brăila and Vaslui)
Who is developing the project?
Alternative Sociale Association
The scope of the program is to keep the children from small towns and rural areas in school to complete at least 10 years of compulsory education and to help them engage in postsecondary education or to pursue other career options.
The program includes the following components:
(1) teacher training to create a pool of 800 teachers able to provide career guidance and counseling;
(2) development and approval by Ministry of Education of methodological tools for teachers and students (student’s book, teacher’s guide, training curriculum). The youth career guidance and counseling program (including all resources produced and piloted during program implementation) will remain in the school system at the county level (training methodology and books accredited, certified trainers) and be available for future use and replication of the initiative.
(3) providing over 20,000 students aged 13 to 15 with career guidance and counseling (self-assessment, communication and information management, career planning, job search methods and techniques, legislation, etc.) during the school classes and extracurricular activities. Parents will also benefit from the information and knowledge built by the project via periodic parent-teacher meetings (about 15,000 expected to participate).
(4) documenting the outcomes of the youth career guidance and counseling program (including emerging best practices) and disseminating these results among key stakeholders (the Ministry of Education, county school inspectorates, schools and teachers) in order to foster replication.
Objectives of the Project
To train and equip 816 teachers with knowledge, methodologies and tools to provide career guidance and counseling to their students from small towns and rural areas from eight counties of Moldova region.
To help 20,000 children from small towns and rural areas from Moldova to take advantage of educational opportunities and to acquire skills and abilities for more effective management of their career.
Tools and Methods
The program methodology combines the following components:
a) Teacher training
A number of 40 two-days training workshops have been organized for 857 teachers and school counselors. The participants have been selected by the project team with the support of local institutional partners, based on criteria among which are the location of the schools the teachers will come from (rural areas and small towns), interest of the school in participating, schools and local communities own resources, local opportunities for developing career guidance activities for children (existence of local businesses, existence of initiatives that may support the project’s objectives etc.). All of the 857 teachers and school counselors received certificates after graduating the theoretical course and completed the mandatory number of practice hours (of activity with the children), that allowed them to continue to provide students with counseling after the completion of the program.
The curriculum for training teachers and school counselors for conducting activities with students. The structure of the training mirrored the contents of the teacher’s guide and the student’s handbook.
The Teacher’s Guide is tailored to the children’s age groups, levels of understanding and capacity to process information. The guide includes classroom and community activities, individual study, examples of occupational profiles specific to rural areas and small towns as well as guidelines for working with parents. The teacher’s guide and the student’s handbook provide several topics to be introduced selectively in the classroom, based on the information and skill development needs assessment conducted by each teacher. In this way, even though the teacher may cover (in the classroom) the subject a limited 4 hours per school year, the same limitation does not apply to the number of topics in the two materials, which cover a larger variety of subjects.
The Student Handbook with four main chapters: career awareness, career exploration, planning and preparation based on the Holland model.The student’s book takes into consideration the individual and classroom study requirements and includes topics related to pursuing a career (self-knowledge: identification of one’s interests and job related abilities etc., understanding how the job market works: role play, job fairs, exposure visits to local employers; learning about job profiles through parent-children days, visits, meetings, etc.); the intended goal of the materials is to provide the information/build a set of skills that will help children identify their career goals and pursue them.
b) Career guidance application
(within/outside the school hours, inside/outside the school grounds).
The 800 teachers and school counsellors engaged children, parents and communities in the activities planned during classes and extracurricular activities, using non-formal education methods and tools.
The planning was based on a needs assessment conducted in the classroom and in consultation with students, thus, leading to a greater implication on their part. AAS provided technical support such as to help teachers and counsellors to use the time and resources available in the best interest of their students.
The teachers dedicated at least 4 hours from their classroom time to the subject of career, but also linked students with career-related events and activities at community level. Additionally, they communicated with the parents on the subject of career, had them engage in career guidance activities at home etc. The students used the Handbook in the classroom, but also for individual study and further research on the subject as it included a section with additional resources.
The program’s team closely monitored the activities in schools (14 on-site visits organized) in order to provide technical support, maintain motivation of the teachers and school counsellors (using incentives, providing support etc.) and find solutions to the problems encountered. In this respect, a reporting system was created (using dedicated communication channels, procedures, templates etc.) for recording students’ progress and recording lessons learned and good practices to be further shared between all participating teachers.
What methodologies does the project use?
- training activities (theoretical and supervised practise);
- creation of specific information and ability development tools for teachers and students;
- participatory processes (involvement of beneficiaries in selecting, planning, implementation and evaluation of capacity building activities, involvement of all stakeholders – community institutions and professionals, entrepreneurs, parents etc.);
- digital tools (dissemination of electronic versions of tools, online evaluation tools)
- non-formal education methods and tools (i.e. living library, photovoice etc.)
- multi-functional and multi-dimensional use of the community spaces
- music events, school fairs (i.e. career day)
- didactic and research
Of the factors contributing to school drop-out rates, many are related to endemic home-life challenges: poverty, lack of parent involvement, or circulatory migration. However, perhaps surprisingly, a recent UNICEF/Gallup study in Romania found that an equally key factor for determining school drop-out rates was teachers’ lack of career counseling knowledge and skills. The higher the risk factors are, the earlier intervention is needed, in order to have sufficient time to develop knowledge and understanding among children, to be able to establish educational and career goals before they make the decision to leave school and start working. A “college-going culture” is no stronger at home, where parents of a similarly low educational level are ill-prepared to provide their children with information on the process and advantages of post-secondary education or career options.
According to UNESCO, “professional guidance and counseling is widely accepted as a powerful and effective method of helping to bridge the gap between education and the world of work, as well as between school and society. It is a means of assisting young people to make appropriate and judicious educational choices that will enable them to develop their potential and to have access to work opportunities that are compatible with their interests and abilities.”
Aside from endowing them with tools and abilities the approach proposed also aims to increase the attitude of students towards career. Thus, the approach aimed to increase the number students of who identify career counseling activity as a contributing factor to their increased school attendance and/or decision to not “drop out” and the percentage of students who recognize increase in A) knowledge of self (identification of one’s interests and job related abilities, etc.), B) understanding how the job market works, C) knowledge of specific job profiles and/or D) knowledge of the preparation necessary to pursue job profiles of interest.
Selected tags about the project
How does it develop in time?
The different phases of the action cover a school year. It is recommended that the teachers continue to provide career guidance and develop career guidance activities until the students graduate.
The beneficiaries of the action are teachers, who develop their teaching skills in order to conduct career guidance activities with pre-university students. The end-beneficiaries are students who develop their skills to plan their career (including their educational path), as well as the skills to identify, obtain and keep a job.
The teachers participating in the training program developed their skills in two main areas:
- one area was related to career guidance and counseling itself. The participants learned what are the skills that youth need in order to be effective in their career planning and decision making, as well as the skills and abilities for the identifying, obtaining and keeping a job. Teachers also learned how to transfer these skills and abilities effectively to students through a variety of formal and non-formal approaches.
- another area was related to how teachers present their subjects to students during regular classes in order to make them more relevant to students from the perspective of everyday life or that of a career.
At an individual level, the students’ performance and attendance rates improved. The students from rural areas that have been exposed to the program better understood the job market and employability concepts; they became more aware of the relation between will be interested in continuing their education and their occupational aspirations will be farther-reaching. For the target group the dropout rate will improve compared to the Moldova region rate of 23%. Furthermore, it is expected that their parents will become more supportive of and involved in the educational process.
In all, over 220,000 hours of activities have been organized with the 22,000 students from 532 schools.
The 857 teachers collaborated with approximately 6,700 professionals (entrepreneurs, social workers, police, physicians, priests etc.) in order to provide children with relevant career experiences. They also collaborated with 3,700 teachers from their schools in order to expand the target group of the career guidance activities conducted.
18,000 parents participated in school activities organized by the participating teachers in order to be made aware of the need of an early start in the development the career guidance abilities and knowledge of children and how they can contribute.
How is it evaluated?
The evaluation is conducted using several qualitative and quantitative tools: training evaluation tools, complex impact evaluation study (interviews, focus groups, questionnaire).