Vocational guidance in schools does not have a rich tradition in Poland. According to a recently amended regulation of the Ministry of National Education on the principles for providing and organising psychological and pedagogical assistance in public kindergartens, schools and other educational institutions, each school from lower secondary school level, including vocational schools, is obliged to provide vocational guidance for its students.

School headmasters are responsible for preparing vocational guidance systems for their schools. This includes appointing teams/persons to develop systems and to carry out vocational guidance, making career guidance/vocational counselling a component of school care programmes, and evaluating the system.

For the new system to be effective, schools should receive substantive methodological and organisational support. The National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education (KOWEZiU) plays a significant role, developing and providing schools with tools and counsellors and offering training to teachers involved in vocational guidance.

Unfortunately, conditions for vocational guidance at most schools are not good. A report by the Forum of Civil Development Foundation presents a very critical evaluation of the vocational guidance system. The report states that qualified vocational counsellors are employed in only 9% of lower and upper secondary schools.

Due to lack of vocational counsellors, two thirds of lower secondary school leavers decide on their further education and choose their career without even one meeting with a counsellor. The report stresses that although legally, schools are obliged to introduce vocational guidance, it is not defined how this should be financed and carried out. Since regional governments are responsible for financing schools, the vocational guidance system depends on awareness, goodwill and financial support from regional and local authorities.

The chairman of the Polish Association of School and Vocational Counsellors, Mr Wojciech Kreft says that schools should have the possibility to apply for financing of their vocational guidance projects and the best institutions should get an additional bonus. Efficiency of vocational guidance should be evaluated via questionnaires among graduates. The education authorities’ approach needs to change and be visible nationwide.

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