Sweden has a long tradition in providing public guidance services, which are grounded upon the principles of universal entitlement and access and that services should be free of charge. Guidance provision in the private sector is rather limited, with the exception of some job agencies and companies specialised in career guidance and coaching.
Guidance in compulsory school, secondary school and adult education
On access to guidance for the compulsory school, secondary school and municipal adult education, the Swedish Education Act (2010: 800), Chapter 2, para. 29, states: ‘Pupils in all school types except in preschool and preschool class are to have access to staff with such expertise that their need for guidance before making choices of future educational and professional activities can be satisfied.’ (translated by Euroguidance Sweden).
The main way of introducing career education and guidance in schools, is through the teaching process as well as through various kinds of general and guidance-related information (i.e. information on society, working life, work experience) either individually or in groups. School staff collectively implement career guidance and education, which involves supporting students in exploring, identifying and specifying their interests, so that they can make well informed decisions about different educational and vocational alternatives. Even though there are no obligatory courses in career education, counsellors arrange informative sessions in primary and secondary education, focusing mainly on students’ decision-making in selecting different education pathways at transition points (i.e. students in year nine discuss their future plans in the context of selecting an upper secondary school and programme).
According to statistics, each guidance practitioner in the school system has a great number of pupils to support. In school years 7 to 9 in compulsory school there were 498 pupils for each guidance practitioner in 2017/18. In upper secondary school the corresponding figure was 470 pupils. (Framtidsval – karriärvägledning för individ och samhälle, SOU 2019: 4)
Academic guidance services at universities and university colleges
According to the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance (SFS 1993: 100), students must have access to study counsellors and career guidance. Higher education institutions must ensure that prospective students are able to obtain the information they need about the institution. Information on admission, rules for application, eligibility and selection must be available.
The Swedish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) organise their services’ provision either through a central and comprehensive centre or a local departmental service, which is usually connected with a small central office. Smaller universities, however, have only a central guidance unit.
The central guidance services are usually the primary contact point for prospective students who need support in relation to: their educational options, updating on developments in relevant disciplines, available mobility programmes; and in choosing specialisations in the context of labour market needs. There is normally both a drop-in service and a meeting booking system. In addition, local departmental services may employ a counsellor who offers support and information in specific disciplines (usually that of the Department). For instance, information can include job vacancies, summer jobs, internships and companies interested in supporting students to complete their degree projects. Furthermore, to facilitate and ease graduates’ transition into the labour market, some Universities have a career centre that can assist individuals in making career choices and/or preparing job applications (Euroguidance Sweden, 2015).
Guidance in non-formal adult education
Folk high schools (folkhögskola) provide popular adult education with a variety of course offerings at different levels, and some provide boarding facilities. In terms of school owners or operators, over 100 out of 151 folk high schools are managed by popular movements, NGOs or non-profit bodies, around 40 by country councils and regions, and one of them by a municipality. The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet) is a non-profit association responsible for both the governmental funds’ allocation to folk high schools and their evaluation The Information Service of the Swedish Folk High Schools (Folkhögskolornas serviceorganisation, FSO) provides general information about these schools and contributes to the development of a common framework for their guidance and counselling services (Euroguidance Sweden, 2015).
Career guidance within the Swedish public employment service
Guidance, included in the core mission of PES (arbetsförmedlingen), is regulated in several ordinances:
- regulation on the labour market policy actions (Förordning, 2000: 628) om den arbetsmarknadspolitiska verksamheten, para. 8), which states that guidance is one of the ways in which the services should be offered;
- regulation on labour market policy programmes (Förordning, 2000: 634) om arbetsmarknadspolitiska program), where guidance is seen as part of preparatory interventions, which refer to individually adapted labour market policy interventions for those who need to prepare specifically for another labour market policy program, education or work;
- regulation on the job guarantee for young people (Förordning, 2007: 813) om jobbgarantin för ungdomar), which stipulates that young people should be offered guidance and counselling.
The Swedish PES provide guidance for those seeking a job via three main channels: the PES website, the customer service, reached both via phone and chat and the local PES offices. The website contains information on different occupations, study and career options, while questions regarding this information can be submitted via customer service. The local PES offices may decide on and suggest the most appropriate service/activity for those interested. However, it must be noted that some services are available only for registered jobseekers.
Additionally, PES staff, namely career counsellors, must review current beneficiary needs and proceed in making well-informed decisions involving complex issues. The input provided by the tailored guidance conversation, which is based on the beneficiary’s own resources, is translated into educational and vocational options. Throughout the counselling process, whether provided individually or in groups, motivating individual beneficiaries is a priority. Individual jobseekers also need to become competent at using internet-based tools that are introduced during the process (Euroguidance Sweden, 2015).
The Swedish PES has developed a national strategy for career guidance (Arbetsförmedlingens nationella strategi för karriärvägledning – vägar till karriärkompetens, Af-2018/0017 8563), which is an internal guiding document for all employment offices throughout Sweden. In a report, Measures to strengthen the Agency´s career guidance (Åtgärder för att stärka myndighetens karriärvägledning, AF 2018/0017 7972), the Swedish Employment Service reports on the measures taken by the authority to allow more people to take part in training through the career guidance that is offered by or on behalf of the Agency (further information can be found here).
Guidance at local municipal guidance centres for adults
In some municipalities, there are local guidance and information centres (vägledningscentrum) which are under the responsibility of that particular municipality. Guidance at the local centres is offered through different channels (Euroguidance Sweden, 2015); namely:
- career guidance based on specific individual needs and wishes, to identify possibilities, alternatives, obstacles and how to overcome them;
- general information on educational programmes, application forms, requirements, study allowances;
- self-service, ICT-based resources for career information searches or for interest tests.
There are several publicly funded websites (see section ICT in lifelong guidance) that offer information about education and working life in Sweden. These online services mainly provide information and advice, rather than e-guidance; yet, online career guidance tools are also available, such as the Choose and plan tool (Välj och planera) offered by the national Agency for Education at their website or the Interest-guide (Intresseguide) offered through the PES website (see section ICT in lifelong guidance).
Career fairs are frequently organised by local employers and upper secondary schools, usually aimed at pupils in year nine. Two well-known national career fairs are the SACO and Nolia fairs, organised on an annual basis. The aim of these fairs is to provide students with information related to their opportunities upon completion of their studies (Euroguidance Sweden, 2015).
Arbetsförmedlingen (2018). Arbetsförmedlingens nationella strategi för karriärvägledning – vägar till karriärkompetens, Af-2018/0017 8563 (The Swedish PES National Strategy for Career Guidance). https://arbetsformedlingen.se/om-oss/var-verksamhet/styrning-och-resultat/aterrapportering/atgarder-for-att-starka-myndighetens-karriarvagledning
Arbetsförmedlingen (n.d.). Intresseguide (On-line guidance tool, Interest guide). https://arbetsformedlingen.se/for-arbetssokande/yrken-och-studier/intresseguide/
Euroguidance Sweden (2015). Career Guidance in Sweden. https://www.uhr.se/globalassets/syv/utlandsvistelse/euroguidance/fler-rapporter/career-guidance_uppslag.pdf
Folkbildningsrådet (The Swedish National Council of Adult Education). https://www.folkbildningsradet.se/
Folkhögskolornas serviceorganisation, FSO (Information Service of the Swedish Folk High Schools). https://www.sverigesfolkhogskolor.se/fso
Nolia Karriär (n.d.). Education and recruitment fairs Nolia. https://www.noliakarriar.se/
Skolverket (n.d.). Välj och planera (On-line guidance tool, Choose and plan). https://www.utbildningsinfo.se/vop/valjochplanera/.
Statens Offentliga Utredningar (2019). Framtidsval – karriärvägledning för individ och samhälle, SOU 2019: 4 (Choices for the future - Career guidance for the individual and society). https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2019/01/sou-20194/
Sveriges akademikers centralorganisation, SACO (n.d.). SACO student fairs. https://www.saco.se/en/saco-student-fairs/
Sveriges akademikers centralorganisation, SACO (The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations). https://www.saco.se/
Sveriges Riksdag (1993). Högskoleförordning SFS 1993: 100 (The Swedish Higher Education Ordinance). https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/hogskoleforordning-1993100_sfs-1993-100
Sveriges Riksdag (1993). The Swedish Higher Education Ordinance. English version. https://www.uhr.se/en/start/laws-and-regulations/Laws-and-regulations/The-Higher-Education-Ordinance/
Sveriges Riksdag (2000). Förordning 2000: 628 om den arbetsmarknadspolitiska verksamheten, 8§ (Regulation on the labour market policy actions). https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2000628-om-den_sfs-2000-628
Sveriges Riksdag (2000). Förordning 2000: 634 om arbetsmarknadspolitiska program (Regulation on labour market policy programmes). https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2000634-om-arbetsmarknadspolitiska_sfs-2000-634
Sveriges Riksdag (2007). Förordning 2007: 813 om jobbgarantin för ungdomar (Regulation on the job guarantee for young people). https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2000634-om-arbetsmarknadspolitiska_sfs-2000-634
Sveriges Riksdag (2010). Skollag 2010: 800 (The Swedish Education Act). https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/skollag-2010800_sfs-2010-800