National Framework for Guidance


At the beginning of the year the Department of Education called for submissions on the development of a National Framework for Guidance. They published a Consultation Paper on this issue which outlined the rationale for such a development including:

  • Changing patterns of work, in an ever more globalised economy and digitalised world, demand that people upskill, reskill and learn throughout life for different careers and jobs.
  • Provision of clear, coherent information and guidance, on education, training, employment and career opportunities, is essential therefore.
  • Individuals need to be able to access opportunities for advancement in the way that suits them best, to reach their full potential, and engage in life-long and life-wide learning.
  • This is crucial if Ireland is to have a robust and sustainable economy and society that encompasses everyone.

The document also noted that “Effective guidance helps individuals reach their potential, economies become more efficient and societies become fairer (2021, Investing in career guidance, published by Cedefop, the OECD, the European Commission, the European Training Foundation, the International Labor Organisation and UNESCO).” (p7)

On page 10 of the document the draft vision for lifelong guidance was stated as: A more unified guidance system which will allow all young people and adults to have access to high quality and appropriate lifelong guidance.

Five draft strategic objectives were also outlined on this page including:

  1. Making lifelong guidance a reality;
  2. Improving the quality of evidence–based lifelong guidance policy, guidance services, information and digital tools;
  3. Professionalisation of guidance acknowledging the diversity of guidance roles and professional training required for each role;
  4. Promoting inclusion, lifelong career mobility, equity of access and active citizenship through sustainable education, lifelong career management skills, diverse training and employment pathways;
  5. Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of lifelong guidance education and training.

The five principles to guide the vision for a high functioning guidance system were noted as accessible and person-oriented; high quality; equal, inclusive and sustainable; cross-sectional and coordinated, and evidence-informed.

Four key strategic pillars were identified and outlined on page 13 and they include:

  • Pillar 1 covering lifelong guidance services and information provision;
  • Pillar 2 covering professionalisation of lifelong guidance;
  • Pillar 3 covering access and inclusion;
  • Pillar 4 covering lifelong guidance, career management skills and career mobility.

In mid-January, the INOU participated in a Focus Group facilitated by the Department on this draft framework; and in mid-February we made our submission through the completion of the Department’s online questionnaire. While welcoming the vision; strategic objectives; underlining principles; and strategic pillars we also noted that:

  • A key challenge will be creating accessible supports for people of working age who are not on a Jobseeker’s payment or on an education course. And for those who are on a social welfare payment or course, ensuring they can access the right guidance for them.
  • It would be important that people can access both online and in-person supports, whichever option or combination of options suits them best.
  • There needs to be one portal / central hub where people can find all of the information required. But it would need to have good sign posting and refer people on to the most appropriate point for the more detailed and up-to-date information that they need.
  • This information should be communicated to people on an on-going basis, with particular emphasis being put on timeframes/deadlines when necessary.
  • It will be important to capture users and practitioners feedback to ensure the information is as relevant and easy to follow as possible, including social welfare and childcare supports.
  • A strengthened practitioner emphasis on what the person they are supporting would like to do and mapping out how this can be achieved – exploring transferrable skills, qualifications, work experience. Practitioners would also need a deep understanding of the local labour market, and the jobs that are and will be available.
  • Lifelong guidance services would need to be more visible, with greater certainty about what services people can access and when these can be accessed. On they note “Ireland’s Well-being Framework is a cross-government initiative to help improve our understanding of quality of life and to measure how we are progressing overall as a country. This can help us better align policy decisions with people’s experiences.”
  • Lifelong guidance clearly has a role in play in enhancing people’s well-being and its cumulative impact on our society and economy. It will be important to research if this holds true, how the different aspects of guidance interact or not with each other, where people can access them or not, and as Ireland evolves what types of new guidance are required to support people to navigate a changing world.