New directions for policies supporting enhanced cooperation in lifelong guidance (LLG) and career development were highlighted during the fifth annual meeting of CareersNet, Cedefop’s network of independent experts in the field.

The virtual meeting took place on 6 and 7 December and was attended by experts from 32 countries, including several speakers from Slovenia, since the event's partner organiser was the Slovenian Ministry of Education.

Miha Lövsin, Head of Professional Development Unit at the Ministry, extended a warm welcome, alongside Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel, who noted that people and their skills development were at the centre of the Agency's mission statement, adding that expertise represented by CareersNet supported the efforts to reach the European Union's ambitious objectives in the area, also for those adults who face significant barriers to learning and employment.

Five speakers representing the Slovenian LLG landscape shared brief presentations on career guidance in the country, highlighting its model of cross-sectoral cooperation and demonstrating good practices in system development throughout recent years.

Over the two days of the event, which was convened by Cedefop's Antonio Ranieri, Head of Department for VET and Skills, and CareersNet coordinator Cynthia Harrison, participants had the opportunity to review several promising plans and share fresh inspiration for partnerships in the LLG area, discussing the role of such partnerships in policies and practices that promote cross-sector coordination and cooperation in LLG, including formal and informal initiatives, strategies, action plans, agreements, etc.

Just a few days before the European Commission's significant announcement about action to improve lifelong learning and employability, participants had the benefit of discussing European-level initiatives supporting cooperation in their field, presented by European Commission representatives; they also heard extensive briefings about recent national- and local-level guidance and career development experience; this allowed them to identify many commonalities in approaches that can ensure continuity and consistency of lifelong services across and within sectors.

Discussions and dedicated activities in separate breakout rooms echoed the need for more decisive leadership at regional and national levels, more research-based decision-making and policy development as well as more involvement of different stakeholders and actors.

A major part of the meeting was devoted to sharing recent Cedefop work in the LLG area, including on:

  • The Agency’s work in lifelong guidance and support for careers and learning;
  • skills for the green transition and the implications from the European Green Deal;
  • digital transitions and rethinking career practitioner professionalism;
  • the guidance resources available at Cedefop’s LLG inventory and on its new portal;
  • Cedefop’s forthcoming study on individual learning accounts and integrated policies to promote increased participation of adults in CVET, bringing together Cedefop resources in financing, career guidance and validation.

The meeting included a presentation of the CareersNet network’s activities in the years 2020 and 2021 and a look ahead into the priorities and plans for the 2022-23 period, as well as a full update on cooperation and coordination for integrated approaches to supporting careers and learning.

The lively discussion and breakout room activities at the event led CareersNet members to join in calls for action aiming at making best use of tools and mechanisms to support integrated approaches and the development of LLG systems and for authentic collaboration in career guidance and career development policy.