Cedefop invited experts from its CareersNet network to provide an initial assessment of how the coronavirus health emergency has affected the delivery of career and lifelong guidance in their country or region. Responses suggest a seismic shift towards online learning and guidance delivery.

The coronavirus crisis is likely to have far reaching social and economic consequences in the coming years. Recovery is difficult to predict but lifelong guidance as a support service and a lifelong learning process, is more important than ever. The social and economic transitions of young people and adults in and out of the labour market require financial and non-financial support, such as career guidance, to assist individuals in navigating the difficult labour market circumstances that are unfolding, and will likely remain for some time. As a member of CareersNet puts it: When this pandemic is over, young people and adults will need reliable and impartial careers information, advice and guidance which offers hope, guidance and opportunity.’

CareersNet is Cedefop’s network of independent experts in lifelong guidance and career development, established in 2017, from countries of the EU, EEA, EFTA and candidate countries. CareersNet experts are main contributors to Cedefop’s EU+ inventory on lifelong guidance systems and practices.

Experts were invited to make a brief, initial assessment of the current situation concerning the impact the pandemic and lockdown or other restrictions are having on the delivery of lifelong guidance in their country, region or local area. The aim was to capture their impressions, using selected and provisional information and data within their reach, in a short timeframe (8 to 16 April). A summary note was produced based on their input.

Main findings

The situation on guidance support in many countries was described as unstable in terms of system functioning and delivery. Some experts found it difficult to make a reliable assessment of the situation in a context of exceptional uncertainty.

In what many guidance experts describe as the great leap to online learning and guidance delivery, digital technologies and the role of ICT in lifelong guidance are a common focus. Themes include:

  • present and future modes of delivery;
  • barriers in accessing online support and multi-channelled delivery for all;
  • teaching and careers learning/guidance education in school-based programmes;
  • labour market information (LMI);
  • need for widespread and universal upskilling and training (for practitioners, learners, beneficiaries, caregivers, jobseekers and employees, etc.);
  • outreach strategies, especially in the case of vulnerable groups;  
  • information and guidelines related to use of digital technology;
  • IT security, personal data protection and ethical themes.

The pandemic has also highlighted a need for digital competences and a broader digital skillset, not only for young learners, teachers and guidance practitioners, but for all individuals. Support services will also be critical in providing information and guidance on upskilling and reskilling pathways for adult learners and early leavers from education and training who urgently need access to these opportunities, and who may also need moral support in the face of the coronavirus crisis. 

You will find more details in the summary report. Cedefop has developed several resources for guidance, including the LMI toolkit and a handbook on transferability. The latter’s primary objective is to support the structured knowledge exchange of activities, methods and tools concerned with the successful integration of ICT and labour market information in career guidance services and presenting potential for transferability.