|The Transition of Youth from School to Work: Issues and Policies (IIEP, 2000, 188 p.)|
|Chapter I. From initial education to working life: making transition work by Marianne Durand-Drouhin and Richard Sweet|
Good information and guidance become increasingly important as the education and employment choices that face young people change and become more complex. Change and complexity arise not only from changes in jobs and career patterns, but also from the growing flexibility of the pathways that link education to working life. This change and complexity constitute strong grounds for the information and guidance that assist young people in the transition shifting away from an approach that tries to 'match' their abilities and interests to particular jobs or courses, and towards an approach that places far more emphasis upon active career planning and personal development.
Information and guidance should not be expected to steer young people in particular directions to satisfy labour force planning requirements: for example to reverse trends away from vocational education and training at the upper-secondary level, or to convince significantly larger numbers of females to choose vocational education and training in traditional 'male' occupations. An emphasis upon the adjustment of supply and demand through improvements to working conditions and wages and through better signalling systems are more appropriate policy responses to shortages and surpluses of labour, although accurate information can play an important role in this process. Information and guidance, important as they are, cannot by themselves overcome a lack of equivalence between vocational and general education in current social and economic contexts, nor overturn deep-seated occupational hierarchies and gender differences in the labour market. A condition for effective information and guidance is continuing improvement to the ways in which education and employment systems are aligned, and to the linkages between initial and further education and training.
Countries differ in their characteristic approach to guidance, partly as a result of the nature of their dominant transition pathways. In many countries excellent examples can be found of innovation and good practice: for example in the use of computerized self-assessment and job and course information tools.
Despite excellent examples and impressive individual innovations, in most countries a systematic approach to information and guidance during the transition phase is lacking. Wide variation can be observed within countries in most of the basic dimensions of information and guidance: for example whether or not it is mandatory; who provides it and their qualifications and training; and the nature and level of resources that are provided. Too often information and guidance services are marginal within the priorities of schools. This suggests a lack of policy coherence.
A key challenge for policy-makers is how universal access to high-quality information and guidance services can be provided at an affordable cost. Traditional classroom-based and counsellor-based models both have weaknesses in meeting this objective. They both have difficulty in adapting rapidly enough to changing course and job requirements: and the counsellor-based model in particular is too expensive if access is to be universal and the full range of young people's information and guidance needs are to be met. A more open and comprehensive strategy for the provision of information and guidance services that is able to meet greatly expanded needs for high-quality information and guidance should be based around a number of key elements: the production of high-quality job and course information by specialist organizations; wide use by students of self-directed techniques of personal assessment and job and course information, including computerized and online techniques; mandatory career education within the school curriculum; opportunities for all students to undertake periods of experience in real work settings; and systematic involvement by community members such as employers, parents and alumni.