REPORT COMMISSIONED BY CEDEFOP USING THE OECD
REVIEW OF CAREER GUIDANCE POLICIES
Sweden - May 2002
N.B The views expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect those of Sweden or Cedefop. This text has been
written by a non-native English speaker and has not been subject to lan-
guage revision or editing by Cedefop services.
Policies for information, guidance and counselling services in Sweden
Dr. Anders Lovén, Malmo University, June 2002
In autumn 2000 the OECD’s Education Committee and its Employment, Labour
and Social Affairs Committee endorsed a new activity on policies for information,
guidance and counselling services. The principal objective of the activity is to
understand how the organisation, management and delivery of these services can
help to advance some key public policy objectives: for example the provision of
lifelong learning for all and active labour market policies.
The OECD devised a questionnaire covering key policy issues in information,
guidance and counselling services and types of policy initiatives. It sought basic
information on how countries organise, manage and provide information, guid-
ance and counselling services, in order that the context of policy initiatives can be
better understood. Fourteen OECD countries have taken part in the review: Aus-
tralia; Austria; Canada; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; Germany; Ire-
land; Korea; Luxembourg; the Netherlands; Norway; Spain and the United King-
dom. Each country has completed a detailed national questionnaire, and was vis-
ited by a small review team.
At the request of the European Commission Cedefop and the ETF commissioned
studies based on the OECD questionnaire to cover those Member States and
future Member States which had not participated in the original OECD initiative.
A key definition
The term “information, guidance and counselling services” refers to services
intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to
make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers.
It includes a wide range of activities. For example activities within schools to help
students clarify career goals and understand the world of work; personal or group-
based assistance with decisions about initial courses of study, courses of
vocational training, further education and training, initial job choice, job change,
or work force re-entry; computer-based or on-line services to provide information
about jobs and careers or to help individuals make career choices; and services to
produce and disseminate information about jobs, courses of study and vocational
training. It includes services provided to those who have not yet entered the labour
force, services to job seekers, and services to those who are employed.
The scope of the questionnaire
The questionnaire, and the OECD activity of which it is a part, focused upon
career information, guidance and counselling services: in other words services
intended to assist individuals with their career management. These often overlap
with other forms of personal services. Job placement, personal counselling,
community-based personal mentoring, welfare advice and educational psychology
are examples. Frequently these other services are delivered by people who also
deliver career information, guidance and counselling. The instructions given in
the questionnaire were that where such an overlap existed, these services were to
be included when answering the questionnaire. However where separate guidance
services existed that do not provide career information, guidance and counselling,
these separate services were to be ignored when answering the questionnaire.
Organisation of the questionnaire
The questionnaire was structured in twelve sections:
1: Overview 7: Delivery settings
2: Key goals, influences, issues and initiatives 8: Delivery methods
3: Policy instruments for steering services 9: Career information
4: The roles of the stakeholders 10: Financing
5: Targeting and access 11: Assuring quality
6: Staffing 12: The evidence base
Sources and Methodology
Some material has been translated from more formal documents such as guide-
lines or governmental reports. Most of the text is however, written in a more non-
formal way and based upon different sources. The work is mainly in the form of
desk-research, which means that the author has collected the data and analysed it.
There are a lot of sources to the data and the written ones are mentioned in the
references. The author has also performed a lot of interviews with key persons on
Some information, especially about the educational system and labour market
activities, is assembled in the appendix.
Only the author is responsible for the results and conclusions. Finally the author is
very grateful to all persons who have shared their knowledge and experiences.
In Sweden there is a strong tradition of independence amongst the different social
service departments, including that of school and education. These different de-
partments form their own goals and are unique in the sense that the government
itself has no legislative power over their activity. However, the social service de-
partments are restricted to certain guidelines from their superior ministries but
their main work is basically independent, as the majority of their working officials
are state employees and not elected representatives. In turn, the social service de-
partment of education has a number of different subordinated departments. The
departments, which are involved in information, guidance and counselling, are
The National Agency for Education (Skolverket) and Swedish National Labour
Market Administration (AMV).
However, in recent years there has been a tendency to a greater decentralisation
both of the responsibility and of the actual design of public guidance and informa-
tion. This is due to a number of different factors such as an ideological shift to-
wards a view where decentralised decisions are prioritised. Another reason is the
economic depression since the beginning of the nineties, which had an effect on
the way local authorities financed and organised guidance and information.
Thus, today the local authorities individually form their services of information,
guidance and counselling according to special guidelines and goals set by the de-
partment of education, which in turn answers to the government.
It is from these general goals that the local authorities form their own courses of
action to achieve educational guidance and job orientation for all students. The
local authority is responsible for the comprehensive and upper secondary school
as well as adult education, providing the schools with career counsellors and other
necessities to achieve the national goals. However the guidance that takes place at
university level and other higher education is the local responsibility of each uni-
versity. Below follows a figure over different counselling arenas in Sweden.
Counselling in Sweden
Educational ministries Labourmarket Board
Youth education Adult education Empolyment offices
Comprehensive school Adult education by
Upper secondary school
Adult education Initiative
Folk high school
2. Key goals, influences, issues and initiatives
The main goals and key objectives of guidance and counselling differ considera-
bly between different Swedish ministries. In general, there are two main views
upon guidance and information and its basic purpose, those of the educational
departments and those of the labour market and its superior departments.
However, there has been a change from a more extensive description of the ser-
vices of guidance to a more goal-oriented approach. Thus, the former detailed
documents have been replaced in favour of more general guidelines and objec-
tives. This decentralisation has given the local authorities and schools greater
freedom in how to provide information and guidance but also greater responsibil-
The goals of the compulsory school can be read in LPO ’94 (the curriculum of the
compulsory school from 1994) stating that the school should strive to ensure that
all pupils should:
“…acquire sufficient knowledge and experience in order to:
Be able to examine different options and make decisions on questions concern-
ing their own futures,
Gain insight into their immediate society, its working and cultural life as well
as its organisational activities and
Be informed about opportunities for further education in Sweden and in other
Guidelines for the activities in compulsory school include:
“…all who work in the school should:
Act to enrich the school as a learning environment by establishing contacts not
only with working, cultural and organisational life but also with other activi-
ties outside the school and
Contribute to working against any restrictions on the pupil’s choice of study or
vocation that are based on gender or social or cultural background.
The teacher should:
Support individual students when choosing further education and
Assist in establishing contacts with schools that will be receiving the pupils as
well as with organisations, companies and others who can help enrich the
school’s activities and establish it in the surrounding society.”
As for the direct work of guidance officers and other similar staff the following
can be read:
“Student guidance officers and vocational guidance staff or staff performing
equivalent tasks should:
Inform and guide pupils prior to the next stage of their education and voca-
tional education (…) as well as
Assist the study and vocational guidance efforts of other members of staff.”
In LGF ’96 (a similar curriculum for non compulsory schooling from 1996) the
goals are more set on creating an awareness amongst the students, providing them
with the tools, information and guidance to make a mature and well-reasoned de-
cision concerning their future.
It says that:
“The School shall strive to ensure that all pupils:
Develop their self-knowledge and ability for individual study planning,
Are consciously able to take a standpoint with regard to further studies and
vocational orientation on the basis of their overall experience, knowledge and
Increase their ability to analyse different choices and determine what the con-
sequences of these may be,
Obtain knowledge of the conditions of working life, especially within their
study area, as well as on the opportunities for education, practice etc. in Swe-
den and other countries,
Are aware that all vocational areas are changing, as is technical development,
changes in civic and vocational life and increased international co-operation.
Pupils shall thus understand the need for personal development in their work-
As the organisation of guidance and information services of the non-compulsory
school is a local matter, the guidelines are not as detailed as those of the compul-
sory school. For example there are no individual guidelines stating the exact role
and responsibility of the teacher, the guidance officer etc.
The guidelines state that:
“On the basis of the division of work drawn up by the school head, the staff shall:
Provide support for the pupils’ choice of education and future work,
Inform and guide pupils prior to their choice of course, further education and
vocational activity and thus work to counteract restrictions based on sex and
social or cultural background,
When providing information and guidance, use the knowledge that exists
among the pupils, the school staff and in the immediate society working out-
side the school,
In the education use the knowledge and experience from working and civic life
that pupils have or obtain during their education,
Develop links with universities and university colleges as well as with supervi-
sors and others within working life who can contribute to the achievement of
the goals of education,
In education take advantage of contacts with the surrounding community, dif-
ferent organisations, and its working and cultural life and
Contribute to prospective pupils receiving information on education provided
by the school.”
As for higher education such as university level studies, the goals and guidelines
are much shorter and abstract stating:
“Students shall be provided the right to educational guidance and job orientation.
The universities are obliged to make sure that necessary information about univer-
sity studies and other higher education is accessible for all those who intend to
commence any higher education.”
As this is the only thing mentioned about guidance and counselling in the national
curriculum for universities, the provision and management of services can be or-
ganised by counsellors, as they think fit. However a view over the organisation of
counselling in higher education shows a rather similar picture, summarised in 7.6.
As educational departments strive to provide their “customers” with tools and
information to accomplish individual self-realisation as their main goal, the labour
market offices have a slightly different view upon the purpose of guidance and
counselling. This is a view that is marked by general labour market policy mean-
ing that helping people to find out what they really want to do and also how to
realise this, is not the only key goal of the guidance officer. However important it
may be to find a future that coincides with the persons’ interests this must always
be adjusted to being a resource to the labour market.
The Swedish Labour Market Administration (AMV) has the task of translating
Swedish labour market policy into practice. In concrete terms, this means:
providing employment to the unemployed and manpower to employers,
taking steps to counteract manpower “bottlenecks” in short-handed occu-
deploying resources on behalf of those who have difficulty in obtaining
Labour market policy shall also help to overcome the segregation of the sexes in
the labour market. The Government and Riksdag (parliament) are AMV’s princi-
pals, and as such they decide targets, regulatory systems and funding conditions
for labour market policy.
The Employment Service is the core of the operation and AMV’s principal inter-
face with employers and job seekers. AMS is the central authority and as such
issues guidelines and instructions to the County labour Boards (21 in number),
allocates resources and monitors activities at county level. Each County Labour
Board is similarly responsible for the employment offices in its county. Both
AMV and the County Labour Boards have Directorates to decide general policy
issues. A more graphic description of the tasks is described in Appendix 3.
The major influences currently shaping national policies for information, guidance
and counselling services are numerous. Examples of these are:
increased decentralisation, giving local authorities a greater freedom to indi-
vidually shape their own counselling services,
greater individualism combined with immensely increased freedom of choice
in the educational sector making great demands on counsellors,
a rapid changing labour market where especially new technology play an im-
a mixed labour market with on the one hand a growing shortage of labour and
on the other hand marginalised groups with high unemployment
a shift towards a less clear and distinct formulation of the demands of compe-
tence from the labour market. Today many employers emphasise more ab-
stract competence and features such as social competence, independence,
a growing tendency for young people to stay longer in education and postpone
their entrance in the labour market.
a multicultural society where persons with another home language than Swed-
ish have a much higher unemployment rate compared to persons with Swedish
as their home language
a much more international educational sector and labour market.
The most important issue concerning information, guidance and counselling ser-
vices facing policymakers in Sweden today is the greatly increased freedom of
choice in recent years. This is part of a more individualised view in the whole
society. The idea is that pupils should form their own training and education in
order to be more satisfied and more flexible towards the labour market. With
many more alternatives and options to choose among, it has become increasingly
difficult to get a general view of the situation, which is necessary in creating a
working management and delivery of services. This increased freedom of choice
includes not only the many more alternatives brought by international educational
co-operation and the European union, but also a change in national education. The
new private schools with public funding are increasing in both numbers and popu-
larity. There has also been a change in the upper secondary education as many
smaller communities start their own upper secondary schools rather than relying
on taxes to larger neighbour communities to educate their students. A larger num-
ber of upper secondary schools with a small number of classes have created a
shortage of counsellors making the classical solution with one counsellor per
school impossible. Thus, the obvious need for new solutions to the organisation of
counselling services, guidance and information is one of the main issues for
Parallel to this development is the changing labour market with bottlenecks,
shortage of labour and long term unemployment for marginal groups.
Another very fast growing concern among politicians and policymakers is the
increasing number of notifications of illness. The government has this problem
high on the agenda.
During recent years there have been a number of initiatives, changes and tenden-
cies of great significance for the management of counselling services in Sweden.
One of the main recent changes is the new organisation of the school system. For
many smaller communities it is financially impossible to employ a counsellor for
a school which only has a few classes in every school year. This has led to new
alternative solutions such as the increasing number of so called “infotheques”, or
guidance centres. Another great initiative during recent years is the government’s
educational programme The Adult Education Initiative (Kunskapslyftet). This is a
massive effort on primarily adult higher education increasing the overall national
competence and knowledge. It’s main purpose is to offer adults with shorter edu-
cational backgrounds the possibility to get a higher education (under financially
favourable circumstances) and through this increase their value and chances for a
There is no immediate connection between the educational system and the labour
market situation. The educational system is more oriented towards an ideology
where the individual creates his/hers own training.
Some of the examples, which are mentioned in this chapter, will be more devel-
oped in the coming chapters. Recently a governmental report (SOU 2001:45) was
presented and in the report there was an analysis of the Swedish guidance system
and some suggestions for the future. With reference to research studies and semi-
nars and interviews with counsellors, the report concluded that most of the goals
for counselling in schools have not been achieved.
As a consequence some new proposals were suggested. Among these were:
a new law for counselling,
a new concept called career counselling
a co-ordinated counselling platform in the local authorities,
a development of a nation-wide database of information adjusted to Internet
a demand that all counsellors in school should have authorised training,
a national centre for career counselling in Sweden.
The report is now under debate and the government expects to finish a proposal in
the end of this year.
One very strong tendency the last years is the emphasis on self-service in guid-
ance. This is connected with the rapid development of Internet tools especially in
the labour market offices. This tendency is not so strong in the schools where,
according to counsellors (Lindh, 1997; Lovén, 2000), the interviews are still their
most important tool. In the labour market offices there are often so called self-
service corners or departments where the customers themselves can search for
Another innovation is the establishment of Infotheques or Guidance centres,
which is increasing in many communities. These are often a co-operation between
the labour market office and the local authority. Counsellors from both authorities
are working together in the centres. Usually the centres are fitted up with a lot of
computers and a self-searching area but also with a possibility to meet and talk to
Among new legislation and proposals, the above mentioned, Adult Education Ini-
tiative, is one of the biggest. Together with new ways of examining formal and
informal qualifications, called validation, new possibilities of entering into adult
education have been started.
Initiatives to involve citizens or voluntary organisations in guidance are not so
frequent. This question is more commented under 7.9 and 7.10 below.
There has been a great investment in new tools for counselling and information.
These are especially developed for information searching. The Swedish Labour
Market Administration has developed a lot of different information tools on Inter-
net (see appendix 4) but also the National Agency for Higher Education has taken
initiatives to develop Internet sites. Among these are www.studera.nu, which pro-
vides information about studies and careers.
3. Policy instruments for steering services
3.1 There is not so much legislation regarding guidance and counselling in Swe-
den. Some legislation exists in educational sector usually as general guidelines.
This is already described in 2.1 above.
3.2 Political steering of information, guidance and counselling service is more
visible in the communities. This is often manifested in creation of new organisa-
tions or reshaping the old ones. Sometimes changes or shortages of manpower in
the labour market or the educational sector stress the need for special information
campaigns. During the first part of the nineties there has also been downsizing in
the counselling service for comprehensive school. According to one report
(Skolverket, 1997) about 8% of the resources have been cut.
The authorities have not developed ethical standards and quality instruments (see
section 11). Instead the organisation of counsellors (The Swedish association
counsellors) has made ethical standards and has a special advisory committee for
ethical questions. Even one of the labour unions for teachers and counsellors in
school has written ethical guidelines. These are however not instruments that the
counsellors are obliged to follow.
3.3 Once again it’s important to underline that the Swedish system has combined
great freedom for local authorities with general goals. This means that financing
of counselling in the educational system is part of the total funding for the local
authority or the local university. No money is destined direct to counselling. Usu-
ally the government uses different evaluations or quality reports to get a picture of
how the local authorities follow the guidelines and how they spend their money.
One of the problems in the counselling field is that evaluations have been rather
few and not totally up to date. Especially the governmental report (SOU 2001:45)
emphasise the lack of evaluations and statistical data on how counselling is organ-
ised and performed in the municipalities (see section 12).
3.4 and 3.5 The shift towards a more decentralised system has reduced the more
formal co-operation on the government level. Most of the contacts and discussions
are on a more informal level among different civil servants in the departments.
Even in the local authorities there are no formal groups, which discuss and work
with questions related to information and guidance. In a few municipalities there
are advisory groups with representatives from the school system, the labour mar-
ket office, local working life and politicians. One barrier for a closer co-operation
between different authorities on both the local and central level is the existence of
separate legislation and connected with these different cultures. One example is
the action plans or individual training schemes. These are stipulated in the school
system, in the employment services and in the social security system. But they are
dependent on different secrecy and cultures. This conclusion is confirmed by a
report which state that there are no benefits in the system for co-operation (Fri-
The government has now decided to have a thorough look at these different sys-
tems, especially for adult people, and try to find a more comprehensive system.
On the department level one co-operation has started a few months ago. It’s the
National Agency for Education and the Swedish National Labour Market Admini-
stration, which make a pilot study regarding information about education. The aim
is to rationalise the distribution of information.
4. The roles of the stakeholders
4.1 The employer’s organisation has traditionally had a great interest to take part
in and support the development of information and guidance. On the central level
there was formerly an established co-operation between the National Agency for
Education and with the trade unions. Today this is more on an informal level but
trade unions and the employer’s organisation have one meeting place called the
advisory group for the labour market. The group takes some initiatives at the gov-
ernment level, produces materials and acts as a pressure group connected to voca-
tional education and guidance. The group also has it’s own homepage.
At the local level the employers’ organisations are represented in different groups
together with school representatives. For example the programmes for vocational
education in upper secondary school have reference groups to discuss and develop
the programmes. Representatives from labour unions are represented here.
4.2 The employers’ organisations produce a lot of materials connected to guid-
ance. Some of these materials are directed towards the teachers, especially in so-
cial science. The basic idea is to give the users an understanding of the importance
of free enterprise and also inspire students to start their own business. There is
also material, which is targeted at students having their weeks of works experi-
A more recent initiative is career fairs in the municipalities. These are often done
in co-operation with the local school system and happen annually.
Another project is a national contest showing the best example of co-operation
between school and working life. This has been made in two steps. The first one
was a regional contest and the winner from that went on to a national contest.
More recently young people representing the employers’ organisations have come
out to schools with a whole programme. The students assemble in a large hall to
experience different types of role-plays and games. The aim is to give the students
a better understanding of the conditions in working life especially from the em-
As a consequence of the great involvement in school and the students the organi-
sation has also started a Website directed towards young people in school. The
site, www.radar.se, contains materials such as diaries from works experiences,
projects of international co-operation and information about young enterprise.
The employers’ organisation is also active in higher education. One of the more
visible activities is the organisation of working-life days. This is a possibility for
students to meet representatives from different companies.
4.4. Trade unions take part in the same bodies as mentioned under 4.1. The Swed-
ish tradition is that different advisory groups usually consist of both representa-
tives from the employers’ organisation and the trade unions.
4.5 Trade unions publish a lot of materials directed to schools and students. Three
big trade unions produce their own material. The biggest one, LO, The Swedish
Trade Union Confederation, have especially material about vocational education
and the conditions in working life. Sometimes they have published material direct
to the teachers in social science, often with a content around working conditions
and the importance of influencing and taking part in the development of working
life conditions. Materials connected to the students working life experiences are
also part of their supply.
Another organisation is TCO, The Swedish Association of professional Employ-
ees, with materials, which in many ways have the same intention and content as
LO. Saco, The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, the third big-
gest labour union, represents graduate professionals and others with comparable
The most well known material is a brochure called “Choose a vocation”, which
give a broad description of vocations with academic qualifications. The descrip-
tions contain working conditions, educational demands, salary, future prospects
and much more.
All the three labour unions have Webpages with contents related to guidance.
Saco in particular has a Website with a lot of materials and links connected to the
guidance area (see appendix 4).
4.7 Encouragement is not the word to describe how policies work with organisa-
tions mentioned in the questionnaire. Often these organisations get financial sup-
port, which they can use to play a role in information and guidance. But it’s up to
the organisation and it is not a thing that’s on the top of the agenda for policymak-
5. Targeting and access
5.1 Certain groups in Sweden have been the target for concentrated efforts. One of
the projects oriented towards adults is the former mentioned Adult Education Ini-
This special adult education programme is the biggest adult education initiative in
the history of Sweden. All Swedish municipalities participate in this five-year
project, which started in 1997.
The programme primarily emphasises unemployed adults who wholly or partially
lack three-year upper secondary school qualifications. It offers these persons
compulsory and upper secondary school studies. The primary aim of the pro-
gramme is to give those adults who have the greatest educational need the oppor-
tunity to expand their basic knowledge.
In order to make this initiative more attractive to the target groups, several pack-
ages were introduced to give support, such as economic help during education,
additional counselling and specially adapted adult education. A large number of
adults have increased their competence via the Adult education Initiative but re-
search studies (SOU 1999:39) show that many more women than men have used
these possibilities. A priority with The Adult Education Initiative was to reach
groups whose first language was not Swedish. This has often been in the form of a
combination of different employment measures and intensified language training.
In parallel with the Adult Education Initiative many measures have been intro-
duced to reduce the number of long-term unemployed. The labour market offices
in particular have been at the centre of these measures. This has been achieved in
co-operation with the local social services departments and with the regional so-
cial insurance office.
5.2 The goals have often been expressed in political terms such as to reduce total
unemployment to 4%, which the Social Democratic government set as a priority at
the beginning of their term of office in 1998. Other examples are the Activity
guarantee (see appendix 6) and the Adult Education Initiative, which were special
5.3 Examples of active steps taken are a reorganisation of guidance activities with
the establishment of special guidance centres. In addition, several local authorities
have started joint projects between different departments, such as the social ser-
vices department and the labour market offices, as a direct result of this.
5.4 To reach new groups for adult education a lot of methods and initiatives has
been developed. One new initiative is to catch people at their work. In co-
operation with trade unions schools try to find those adults who did not attend
school for any length of time and had negative experiences of their time in school.
Another method has been information via shops and special market stalls in mu-
nicipalities. This in combination with “open house” at the different training cen-
tres. In certain cases, brochures have been distributed to all households in a mu-
nicipality. Advertising in newspapers and on the radio has also been common.
Some areas have produced Websites to describe what is available.
In meetings with adults, methods have been prioritised which create confidence
and activation. An example of this is group counselling which has been developed
by the department of employment over many years
5.5 Particularly in the framework of unemployment insurance and supplementary
benefits there are many compulsory regulations. These mean that people applying
for benefit who refuse to accept any offered work or work experience can have
their benefit frozen. One example is the above mentioned Activity guarantee,
which is described in the appendix 6.
5.6 There is an old tradition in Sweden that counselling shall be an individual
right, without cost and available to as many groups as possible. This comprehen-
sive approach can be combined with a more targeted approach. This means that
specific investments are made on a number of groups (see above). In addition to
the above groups, efforts have been made with young people who did not continue
after compulsory school, did not receive a complete certificate or dropped out of
upper secondary School. Local Authorities have a specific responsibility, which
means that these individuals are offered some form of work-related activity, prac-
tice or education. This responsibility lasts until the individual reaches 20. The
local authorities can also take responsibility for young persons up to the age of 24.
This is made in co-operation with the labour market offices.
5.7 Those people outside the education system or not registered at a labour market
office have difficulty finding information on counselling. Labour market offices
have previously given comprehensive service to “change seekers” – those appli-
cants in work or education but have a need to discuss their situation. Today this
group of applicants has a low priority. Possibilities available are to seek informa-
tion via Internet, via self-service at the employment office or via the Infotheque.
Note that the latter is not available in all municipalities, often being established in
those, which are large or very large. Another possibility is for these people to dis-
cuss with a counsellor at the University or college. However the risk is that they
will receive information regarding that institution’s particular course offering.
Independent counselling is more difficult to find and in smaller municipalities it is
almost impossible. The counselling report (SOU 2001:45) has highlighted this
limitation and requested a co-ordinated platform for counselling so that all groups
can gain access to independent, neutral counselling.
5.8 Counselling for adults has been performed partly by the different adult educa-
tion institutions and partly by the employment offices. Adult education by local
authorities, which is dominant, contains formal education for adults up to today’s
upper secondary school level. Folk high schools or other types of schools offer
other post-upper secondary complementary education, which is not at university
level. According to the Law of School (1985:1100) each local authority shall try
to reach all who have the right to adult education and motivate them to participate,
partly in Local Authority adult education. Adult education has expanded rapidly
in the last few decades. The number of adult counsellors has increased and new
forms of organisation have started through initiatives such as the Adult education
Initiative. How counselling is organised is dependent upon the size of the local
In smaller authorities (up to 20 000 inhabitants) it is usual for one or two counsel-
lors to work at an adult education complex and there work together with manage-
ment, teachers and administration. In larger authorities it is more usual for groups
of counsellors organised according to specialisation or level of adult education.
Another organisation is a totally separate, independent group of adult counsellors
which serve the different adult education organisers.
The employment offices also give a wide range of information and counselling to
adults. This however, is more aimed at groups who find it harder to get a foot into
the labour market, as mentioned earlier. In the last few years, Employment offices
have invested heavily in self-service in the form of customer corners with printed
material, and computers connected to the Internet. The offices have also invested
in the Internet which means that applicants can find information on education,
employment, job vacancies, etc One of the tools which is prioritised in adult
counselling is the individual study plan. Once written, there is a responsibility
within both adult education and the employment offices. The study plan should
include general goals, career plans, concrete study goals, time plan and planned
curriculum, etc. Studies show however that many participants in adult education
have no study plan and it is obviously incomplete for others (SOU 1999:39).
6.1 Within the educational system, excluding university education, the majority of
the counsellors have a university education, see 6.3. A smaller group of vocational
teachers are mainly employed in comprehensive Schools. This disappearing group
combines teaching and counselling. According to the counselling report (SOU
2001:45) it is worrying that a growing group of counsellors do not have any for-
mal counselling training. The report therefore suggests that a formal training as a
counsellor should be a requirement for employment as a counsellor. In the Labour
market offices the picture is unclear as a result of organisational change, however
the role is fulfilled by so called employment officers who may have different spe-
ciality. The official term is employment officer with emphasis on information,
supervision or counselling (advice giving). There are also officers at the social
insurance office that have counselling responsibilities without this role dominat-
ing their work. See a graphic description in appendix 5.
6.2 There hasn’t been any survey over the number of staff, their age, gender etc
since 1988 in the school system. However some statistics are available from Sta-
tistics Sweden (SCB) which show that about 5 000 guidance specialists are work-
ing in Sweden. 2 000 of these are working in the educational sector and most of
the remaining in the labour market offices. However, as mentioned before, guid-
ance in the labour market offices are today intertwined with job placement and
some other functions.
According to statistics from the universities, which have education programmes
for counsellors, the students are mainly female.
6.3 There is one main training course for counsellors in Sweden. This is a three-
year course leading to a Bachelors degree. Counsellors with a degree normally
seek employment within education or at a labour market office. A limited number
apply for work in the private sector. An increasing number of counsellors have
been employed at the social insurance office or within projects aimed at people
who are difficult to place in the job market.
To be employed as a guidance specialist in the school system (except for higher
education) there are some special demands in the curriculum. In the legislation
(The Law for School) it says that to be employed, with no time restrictions, and
working with educational and vocational orientation in the public sector, the ap-
plicants should have an education suitable for this activity. Persons who don’t
fulfil these standards can be employed for not more than one year at a time. The
sentence above is open for interpretations and in some municipalities guidance
specialists have been employed with a teacher’s degree or another academic de-
grees, usually based in the social science sector.
The report from the government (SOU 2001:45) underlines that too many guid-
ance specialists do not have suitable education for fulfilling their task. In regions
where there are few trained guidance specialists there is a tendency to employ
teachers or other persons, sometimes transferred from another job, as guidance
specialists. It is not possible to estimate exactly how many employed counsellors
who lack formal training but according to different sources the number can be
anything between 15-25 %.
The employment office (job-centre) has a special internal training for counsellors.
This lasts for about a year and includes both short courses as well as practise with
a tutor. In addition the labour market office has a range of courses which can be
described as further education. The labour market office has traditionally recruited
people with long work experience and/or experience of trade union work. The
trend is now that more and more people are employed with academic qualifica-
tions in counselling, personnel administration or social work.
Academic training for a counsellor is 3 years and this includes several different
elements. The difference from the training at the labour market office is that the
latter is much less detailed and does not have the academic stamp which can mean
more extensive literary studies or the writing of different essays.
The academic education contains three main blocks, sociological, psychological
and practices. Practice is around 6 months, the other two blocks are of 2 years
duration each. There is also special examination work including a long essay con-
nected to an area of counselling. In addition to the courses above, there is a wide
flora of education a counsellor may have completed. The few private counsellors
can have a background in psychology or a financial education combined with per-
sonnel administration. In some schools there are teachers employed who perform
counselling duties. In some cases, a special shortened education has been arranged
for these people to give them a more stable basis in their counselling activities.
6.4 The list of expertise given in the questionnaire only includes part of the re-
quirements to work with counselling in my opinion.
Counsellors in the educational sector require the following competencies:
Group facilitation skills
Individual and group assessment skills
Labour market knowledge
Knowledge of education and training opportunities
Knowledge of career development theory
Knowledge of career counselling theory and counselling interventions
Knowledge of different forms for financial support
The same applies to counsellors at labour market offices, the difference being that
knowledge of possibilities within education is not required to the same degree.
These counsellors should have more knowledge about different employment ini-
tiatives. Group counselling is more prominent at the employment services.
6.5 Generally speaking, counsellors have the expertise given above, especially if
they have attended the special courses. As mentioned earlier, teachers who per-
form counselling activities felt that they were not equipped for such tasks and
have therefore requested further education.
6.6 Counsellors generally have certain possibilities to receive in-service training
and further education within the framework of their employment. Within local
authorities a subscriber system is common in certain regions. This means that
counsellors receive between 5-10 in-service training days per year for a fixed sum.
These days can focus on development of different skills or a deeper insight into
the employment market, education, forecasts, etc. Smaller groups of counsellors
have the possibility to take part in shorter courses of 1-2 weeks duration. Some-
times the employer takes the cost and the employee may attend the course in work
time. Especially counsellors from the labour market offices have been offered the
possibility to attend these types of courses. The courses may be targeted towards
certain methods such as Myers and Briggs testing or Holland’s Self-Directed
Search, or more theoretical courses about changes in the employment/educational
The faculty for counselling also offers courses of different lengths for active
counsellors. These courses, either free or charged, vary in length from several
days to several weeks. Examples of courses offered are: group counselling skills,
computers in guidance or development of interview techniques. Courses leading
to research education are also given. These are of one year in length and are a con-
tinuation of the general counselling education. There is no special research educa-
tion for tutors in Sweden. Those tutors who have themselves reached doctorate
status have normally reached this level through the scientific principles of educa-
6.7 As early as the 1950’s, Sweden introduced the system of works experience in
state schools. This normally encompassed 2-4 weeks during the last 3 years in
comprehensive School. Students attend a workplace and, as far as law allows,
actively partake in works experience. Employers offer special mentors and are not
recompensed for this. They see it as a future investment and both employers’ or-
ganisations and trade unions support the whole activity. Studies show that this is
very much appreciated by students. Some teachers give students tasks, which will
be reported on when the student returns to school. Several studies show however
that the initiative could be better developed and that more account could be taken
of the students’ experiences (Borhagen & Lovén, 1991; Henrysson, 1994). Even
in the lower school years, up to 6th Class it is also common for students to visit
their parents’ places of work or to go on study visits to companies or in institu-
tions where one of the parents are working. Other projects are where organisations
such as Rotary or Lions send professionals to schools to talk about their work in a
more personal way.
7. Delivery settings
7.1 There are no compulsory lessons in career education in the school system.
However counsellors will occasionally have lessons/information sessions and
teachers occasionally have career related themes in their teaching. (See also 7.2.)
7.2 Counsellors normally have lessons in both comprehensive School and upper
secondary School. This most often occurs with different choices, such as choice of
higher year course, or change to a different type of school which the counsellor
where the counsellor informs students of the different possibilities. To a lesser
extent some counsellors teach about changes in working life, training in decision
making and training around which factors influence the individual in a situations
where they must make choices.
Social sciences teachers have occasionally given lessons in the education system
and how the employment market works. Teaching in subjects such as trade union
organisations, salary conditions, and the development and change of different pro-
fessions can be subjects within social science. Together with works experience
and study visits, it is the social sciences and Swedish where pre and post careers
work takes place.
7.3 See description in 6.7
7.4 Most students in year nine have personal interviews with their counsellor. The
counsellor invites them or they come voluntarily to discuss their future plans and
especially the choice of upper secondary education. In earlier grades the pupils
have the opportunity to come and ask questions and discuss with the counsellor
but the majority come in the ninth grade. Some counsellors organise work experi-
ences (Prao) and they have interviews with most of the pupils before they go
Most counsellors have a waiting room with a wide range of written materials and
also one or two computers with connection to Internet and different Websites re-
lated to counselling. Larger institutions, like some of the upper secondary schools
or adult education centres, also have a library where there can be a career corner
with materials and computers.
Careers fairs have become more and more established. They are often organised in
co-operation between local employers and upper secondary schools and they usu-
ally take place a few months before the choice of upper secondary education. The
target group is pupils in year nine but also pupils from earlier grades are invited.
Some universities also have a lot of different activities before the choice of higher
education. Among the activities are visits by students - sometimes former pupils
from the school - or special buses loaded with brochures, computers and one or
7. 5 It’s not easy to describe how the balance is between career and job informa-
tion services; and guidance and counselling services in the labour market offices.
As mentioned before there are some targets groups that are especially important
for the offices. A basic idea is self-service so that many of the customers can
manage to search for information themselves. Clients can also have interviews
with different people from the staff.
There are employment offices in nearly all municipalities. Many of the larger
towns and cities have specialised employment offices catering to specified occu-
pational categories, e.g. technology, industry, caring services, economics and the
arts. Employment Service amenities are not only for the unemployed. Persons
who are employed but want a change of occupation can also turn to the Employ-
ment Service, which offers recruitment and placement services for employers as
Great changes have taken place in Sweden’s public Employment Service over the
past few years. A variety of on-line placement services have been developed. See
appendix 6. The main purpose of the AMS` Internet programme is to improve and
modernise the infrastructure provided by the Employment Service by creating a
comprehensive Web site for placement, vocational guidance and information on
education and the labour market.
In appendix 4 there is a graphical description of the types of work, which the la-
bour market offices are involved with.
According to my sources and the media, AMS´ Internet-site has been a big suc-
cess, and more than 550,000 individuals use the Internet services each month.
This corresponds to about fifteen percent of the Swedish work force. After six
years of operation, the majority of AMS´ information and brokerage services are
accessed through the Internet, allowing the staff of the Employment Service to
concentrate more on individual support for job seekers and employers.
7.6 There are two ways to go through universities in Sweden. The first is to apply
for one of the programmes and the other way is to combine different courses and
In the universities there are also two types of guidance specialists – central coun-
sellors and institutional counsellors. Central counselling often, but not always, has
guidance specialists with the counsellor training. Within this system, the counsel-
lors provide an overall service to students inside the university, and also offer an
external service to students interested in entering the university. The institutional
counsellors, which are often teachers or researchers, with no counsellor training,
specialise more in helping the students through or beyond their programme or
course. The idea behind the two systems is that the students need both very spe-
cialised information and guidance and sometimes more common or broader in-
formation or guidance.
The central counsellors are often concentrated in a centre with career libraries and
some self-service. These centres are often combined with personal and study
counselling services. The guidance specialists work tasks can vary between differ-
ent employees but usually there are the following tasks:
answer a lot of telephone calls regarding information and/or counselling
answer e-mails which according to same guidance specialists have grown so
much that’s it’s hard to handle it and.
Conduct personal interviews
Visit schools and other institutions
Write materials for information or check local information materials
According to an evaluation made at the University of Lund (2002) the interviews
are an especially important and appreciated method used by the central counsel-
Except for the universities they’re some types of further education, which are not
on a university level. These programmes have no regulations for information,
guidance and counselling services and no survey has been done to describe the
In Sweden there is also a rather old type of school institutions called folk high
school (folkhögskola). They offer education mainly on the upper secondary level,
both theoretical and more vocation-oriented. Traditionally the students have had
accommodation at the school but more and more students are living outside the
schools. The folk high schools are also well known for their alternative ways of
7.7 The private sector in counselling has always been small in Sweden. A few
examples can be mentioned but the small demand has lead to a shutdown. In the
last 5-10 years, there has been a growing sector of private employment offices,
such as Manpower and Poolia. Some of them have some counselling activities,
but usually in a minor scale. Some firms specialise in helping companies to reor-
ganise or carry out downsizing. New Start is the best known of these firms and
works in some regions in Sweden. Career coaches are another group, which have
a more limited market. Their main task is to support and follow-up people who
have a new employment or a new position in the company. The customers are
often on a managerial level and the company pays the fee.
It is possible that private counselling can grow during the coming years but it de-
pends on the ideological climate, which up to today has been rather cold for pri-
vate solutions. One possible development is that the local authorities have a pro-
cedure for bidding where private counselling companies can give their bid.
7.8 The only step to open up the market for private initiatives is the abandonment
of the monopoly for employment offices. This was abandoned in 1993 and has led
to the establishment of some companies in the sector. The Swedish employment
offices are however still an outstanding actor on this scene. According to one re-
port (SOU 2000:119) these new companies have expanded their service to some
sort of vocational or career counselling. Often these services are offered over the
Internet. A newly started collaboration is between the Swedish National Labour
Market Administration and one of the private companies, Manpower Ltd. The
purpose is, among other things, to develop the Internet as a tool for posting CVs.
7.9 There is not a big tradition in Sweden for non-profit organisations because
usually the social welfare system has been accepted as a good solution. But there
are a growing number of organisations, which are fulfilling some indirect guid-
ance service. In some areas local immigrant associations have started projects to
activate some of the immigrants, which are not so well integrated in the Swedish
society. Sometimes these projects are in co-operation with the local authorities or
with housing firms, usually owned by the local authorities.
Organisations for women, who have been pursued by men in their surroundings,
are also a growing sector. Usually women, get a possibility to talk through their
situation and sometimes help to get a new identity through these organisations.
There is also a combination of measures from social departments and guidance
specialists from labour market offices or from the local authority. Team-working,
with employees from these different sectors, is used in trying to create good and
comprehensive solutions for people with more complex problems.
7.10 There are no signs that government has tried to increase the role in guidance
for these organisations. But funding from local authorities or direct from govern-
ment has been more prioritised.
8. Delivery methods
8.1 As mentioned before the decentralised system has reduced the initiatives from
central authorities. Compared to the seventies and eighties there is much less in-
formation produced by the central authorities. The policy, which is rather invisi-
ble, seems to be that the government lines up the big goals and then it’s up to local
authorities or private companies to develop good information tools. On the central
level the most visible initiatives are information especially on the Internet. The
VHS, AMV and Skolverket have developed big databases searchable on the Inter-
net. There have also been some projects, state funded, in distance counselling. As
mentioned in chapter 2.4-2.5 the co-operation between local authorities and local
labour market offices in the Infotheques is another project but on the local level.
At a regional or local level there is co-operation with the aim of producing written
materials about different choices of education. A few regions have also developed
Websites containing information mainly about education.
As a consequence a lot of the examples mentioned below have been developed by
private companies (CD-ROM information packages or Websites) or in organisa-
tions such as AMV (group guidance methods) or employers’ organisations and
trade unions (fairs, exhibitions and Websites). The list below gives some exam-
ples of information and guidance material and the responsible body behind these.
Psychological tests in Sweden are not so common in the work of guidance
specialists. Usually this is a task which psychologists in the employment ser-
vice handle. They are a rather small group and the tests are directed towards a
limited group of people. Some guidance officers in the labour market offices
has taking part in courses for using test like Myers and Briggs or Holland’s’
Self-Directed Search, but overall the use of these is rather infrequent.
Telephone is an old and very much used instrument in guidance. But new
methods for using the telephone haven’t been developed except for the estab-
lishment of distance adult education where the telephones together with e-mail
are important tools.
Private companies have developed some CD-ROM packages. The pro-
grammes are on a self-service basis but the marketing is directed towards the
guidance specialists. Two of them, Struktur and Horisont, are made for self
exploration and connected to the construction of action plans. Another pro-
gramme (Merit) has a content where the user can get information about formal
qualifications to higher education and, for example, get recommendations
about which courses they need to complement their current skills.. According
to representatives for the companies these types of programmes are, hard to
get payment for, partly because it’s possible to find this information on the
Internet and partly because the guidance specialists can’t afford to buy them.
There has been an enormous development of different Internet-based tools in
information and guidance. Central authorities have developed the biggest of
them especially AMS but also Skolverket and VHS. In appendix 4 there is a
short description of some of the Internet tools, which have been developed by
these authorities. Even private companies have developed information on
Internet. Syo-guiden is the biggest Website in the Nordic countries and has a
very large number of links related to education, work and employment. An-
other example is the Career guide, which consists of a lot of different tests,
and also materials to help the user to prepare better for job searching. The em-
ployers’ organisations and trade unions have also made some Internet applica-
tions. See chapter 4.
Careers fairs are more and more common in Sweden. In 7.4 some examples
are described. Apart from these examples one of the trade unions (Saco) have
a big fair in large cities every year presenting especially information about
academic training and vocations.
AMV has developed group counselling methods under many years. Some pri-
vate companies have published books and training materials for use in group
guidance and/or in personal counselling.
The use of career information libraries has developed in both the educational
and labour market sectors. It’s often organised as self-service corners or a
combination of waiting rooms with an exhibition of written and digitalized in-
formation. Libraries in the municipalities have also made special department
for career information and in some cases in co-operation with guidance spe-
The use of organised workplace experience is, as mentioned in 6.7 an old tra-
dition in Sweden. Except for the comprehensive school there is a lot of differ-
ent activities in upper secondary school. Usually these experiences are on a
week-basis but in some cases last for several weeks. In higher education there
is also some examples of work place experiences but usually directed towards
the type of training the students have.
8.2 All the examples in appendix 4 are just a few years old. There is also an ongo-
ing discussion on how to develop new and more individualised tools on the Inter-
net. Another aim is to create a more comprehensive database including all educa-
tion and training opportunities and a lot of labour market information. This is also
a proposal from the national report mentioned in 2.4.
8.3 No special tools have been developed for the use of screening. A project in the
eighties with the aim of developing screening tools was for unknown reasons
abandoned and since then no big steps have been taken in this direction.
9. Career information
Questions 9.1 and 9.2 are already answered in chapter 8.
9.3 The target groups for information, guidance and counselling are widespread.
Both central and local authorities give information in a broad perspective to most
groups in the society. As mentioned before there are, however, some groups that
is more prioritised than others. The Internet applications, for example, are directed
towards groups searching for information about education and/or labour market.
Material from local authorities is usually oriented towards their own citizens, for
example, information about upper secondary school to pupils from comprehensive
A lot of upper secondary schools for adult education and universities also present
information to groups, which they think, can be their future students.
9.4 Most producers of information use data already published, but they organise
and structure it in a new and different way. Some producers expand the informa-
tion by making interviews or sending out questionnaires.
9.5 Most of the information passes some sort of inspection. One person or several
persons can do this. In some cases the information is sent back to the school or the
institution for a renewed check. One of the big Internet databases, studera.nu (see
appendix 4), totally relies on data produced by the universities and there is no
check on the central level. Another way, not so uncommon, is guidance specialists
commenting incorrectly or missing information and in a way acting as a quality
None of the state-funded databases have any advertisements in the WebPages. But
the private ones have advertisements that sometimes are intertwined with the in-
formation. Some of the tests that are published on the WebPages are presented
without any background or description of how they have been constructed.
9.6 During the development of Internet applications or printed material many pro-
ducers have reference groups with guidance specialists or student/customers. The
reference group discusses different drafts or design ideas and gives their opinions.
Some producers make pilot versions (mostly central authorities) and after some
tests change or refine the original production. Another used methods to make
more user-friendly applications are evaluations to a sample of the users.
9.7-9.8 The Internet applications are free on Internet. Some written materials are
send to special target groups and/or to guidance specialists and their offices.
One type of material, for example big handbooks or guides for studies abroad, is
not free. Usually the guidance officers buy the materials and present it in their
offices at no cost.
9.9 The government has made no direct initiatives to increase the role of the pri-
vate sector in information and guidance. However as indicated before the de-
creased role of central authorities has opened a market for private companies.
9.10 One of the biggest databases "Occupational A to Z" (se appendix 4) contains
descriptions of occupations, showing duties, training alternatives, employment
prospects and rates of pay. A list of closely related occupations is also included.
Saco, one of the trade unions, has a widespread brochure, called “To choose a
vocation”. It contains a short description of the vocation, educational demands,
rates of pay, employment prospects and more. The Job Bank has a lot of data
structured on both a regional and a local level.
According to my sources there are no descriptions of the results of graduate em-
ployment or course satisfaction surveys.
10.1, 10.3-10.4 A common theme through this report is the description of a sys-
tem where the central government has left much of the responsibility for informa-
tion, guidance and counselling to the departments mentioned in 1.1 and local au-
thorities. This means that the local authorities independently form their services of
information, guidance and counselling according to special guidelines and goals.
The system is financed as a part of the service that local authorities give to their
citizens. It’s not possible to find any special funds for these areas. The local au-
thorities have to follow the guidelines in school curriculum but this is very much a
question of interpretation. According to the report (SOU 2001:45) mentioned ear-
lier there is a great need for a survey describing how different local authorities
organise the services and how much they invest into it.
In the old system, which was abandoned in the mid-eighties, funding was con-
nected to the amount of students in the school system. Usually one full-time guid-
ance specialist had a responsibility for 800-1000 students. According to a survey
made by the Skolverket (1997) there has been a cut in funding equivalent to 8%
but these figures can vary among the municipalities.
In higher education the funding situation is the same as mentioned above but the
increased competition between universities has, according to my sources, created
a need for more information officers and guidance specialists. There is however
no safe figures to show this development.
In the labour market office, information, guidance and counselling are part of the
services and according to the authorities it is hard to make an estimation of the
costs of these activities. On the central level a lot of funding has been directed
towards the development of Internet tools. But, also in this case, it’s not possible
to give an exact figure as to how much this has cost.
10.2 A cornerstone in Sweden concerning guidance is that it should be available
for everyone who needs it and without cost for the individual. In between there are
waiting lists but none should be refused help in this area. The private companies
mentioned in 7.7-7.8 have another target group for their activities. As mentioned
before they usually work inside a company and the company pays for their work.
Even the career coaches have special fees that are usually paid by the employers.
10.5 It’s not possible to get all the statistics, asked for in this chapter. According
to statistics from Statistic Sweden, 2001, guidance specialists and personal offi-
cers are in the same category. The middle salary was about 2 300 Euro and the
median salary 2 200 Euro.
Saco, one of the trade unions, that organise guidance specialists in schools, has
statistics for this group. Starting salary is about 1 700 Euro and salary after 15
years 2 300 Euro.
11. Assuring quality
11.1 The decentralised system has lead to a situation where the central govern-
ment isn’t so involved in quality questions regarding information, guidance and
counselling. The previous mentioned governmental report can be described as one
step to getting an overview. However the resources, for the investigation, were too
limited to make a broader description of the counselling services. This was also
mentioned in the report where the need for more data about the situation for guid-
ance in Sweden is underlined. Another step to be mentioned is the evaluations that
from time to time has been made about guidance. The National Agency for Edu-
cation usually conducts these but the last one was seven years ago. As mentioned
before some co-operation has started around the development of Internet tools but
not every one of the central authorities is involved.
Both the National Agency for Education and the National Labour Market Board
make follow up-studies and evaluations where information, guidance and counsel-
ling can be a part of the study. The labour market offices, for example, make cus-
tomer inquiries every month. The National Agency for Education has different
types of inspection in schools where some areas can be oriented towards informa-
tion and guidance. According to the National report the National Labour Market
Board has made no thorough study of results and consequences of counselling.
11.2 No standards have been developed regarding information, guidance and
11.3 There are no standards of competence for the staff except for the previous
mentioned training in counselling which is not a stated in the curriculum or other
11.4 As mentioned in chapter 6.3 there are no formal regulations but a clear
guideline that guidance specialists in school should have suitable education. In the
labour market offices most of the employees have an in-service training which can
include a special part around guidance and counselling.
11.5 There are no special guidelines concerning information quality standards.
11.6 The most proactive organisation is the counsellors association, which are
involved in lobbying in many ways. The association also has a journal where
questions regarding quality and ethics in guidance are discussed. Even at the re-
gional level this organisation have boards, which act, in a lot of questions on their
The different types of guidance specialists are members of separate trade unions.
Most of the guidance specialists in school are members of one of the big trade
unions. Employees at the labour market offices are usually members of another
trade union. One of the trade unions for teachers has developed some ethical
guidelines for both teachers and guidance specialists. They are, however, only
12. The evidence base
12.1 The questions in 12.1 have been investigated in a number of projects since
the end of the sixties. Central authorities have mostly initiated the different re-
search projects. There are, however, no regular statistical collections over use and
access to the counselling services. The results, especially from a social back-
ground perspective, are a bit contradictory. On the one hand results show a picture
where clients with good resources have great demands on the counselling ser-
vices. Jonsson, (1989) and later Skolverket (1997) demonstrated that students be-
longing to mainly upper and middle class (in Sweden called social group I and II)
had a lot of help from the family but still put great demands on the counsellors.
On the other hand, some research pointed out that counsellors gave students with
special needs, mostly from working class (called social group III and IV), more
time and more interviews than other groups (Borhagen & Lovén, 1991
Skolverket, 1997). The latter results were combined with a description where
counsellors were more proactive in searching or getting the students with special
needs to interviews. One explanation is that a lot of short interviews, mainly in-
formation-oriented, are directed towards higher social groups and longer, more
person-oriented interviews are prioritised to lower social groups. Research shows
no clear differences between gender and the levels of use.
As mentioned before almost all students in year nine meet a counsellor. This is the
same independent of geographical location. In the upper secondary school a lot of
students have interviews but not everyone is called for a meeting. In adult educa-
tion usually every student gets a first interview with the aim of making an indi-
vidual study plan, which can be changed underway.
12.2 The question of how the local authorities have established their need and
demand for counselling is very hard to answer. There is no research focusing on
this question. A non-representative discussion with representative from local au-
thorities gives a mixed picture. In many communities the old system with a fixed
number of counsellors has been a starting point for the organisation. Some local
authorities have made surveys to get a picture of student’s demands and expecta-
tions. In other cases the school and especially the head teacher have had the re-
sponsibility for the resources. A shift of school counsellor has in some schools led
to a downsizing of the counselling service. In other cases it’s quite obvious that
the economical depression during the nineties led to downsizing.
To summarise, the level of counselling service seems to be due to a lot of factors
such as the financial situation, results from research or the personality of the head
teacher or counsellor. It’s, however, important to underline, that most students in
education have access to a counsellor, usually situated in the institution.
The question of expectations has been more investigated in research (Jonsson,
1995; Lindh, 1997; Lovén, 2000). Most of the reports have discussed two types of
expectations. The first one is mainly information-based. The student wants infor-
mation about education, vocations or the labour market situation. The second one
is more directed towards the student’s self. Questions like; who am I, what can I
do, what do I want, are central for this group of students. These two expectations
are in many cases intertwined. The information group seems to be the biggest one
but it’s not uncommon that clients subconsciously have a lot of questions, which
are related to their personal situation. In a study from the labour market offices
(Lovén, 1991) the author described two groups of clients, choice cases and change
cases. The last group was characterised by more complex life situations and as a
consequence had a need for more a process oriented counselling.
12.3 A broad description of the criteria for judging the counselling services usu-
ally contains two directions. The one most used is the client’s opinions of counsel-
ling. The other one is follow-up studies on the outcomes of counselling. Usually
the first one consists of questions concerning client satisfaction, degree of secu-
rity, or climate in the interview. The second one is related to questions like type of
occupation related to advice in counselling, number of dropouts in different forms
of training, evaluation of action plans, costs related to outcomes etc. The main
part of research is of the first kind, usually questionnaires or interviews with stu-
dents and other groups. Some research has also analysed counsellors’ interviews
and connected the analysis with expectations and outcomes (Lindh, 1997; Lovén,
2000). Most studies show a good appreciation for the counsellors’ work some-
times combined with criticism regarding counsellors’ availability, personality or
lack of skills.
12.4 The first three questions can be answered with a firm No. There has been no
research, which connects costs with benefits, service level, characteristics of cli-
ents etc. This fact is commented on the governmental report (2001). “The area
(research) is neglected and no reliable instrument, neither on the national or local
level which show results or effects from counselling initiatives has been devel-
oped. There is a need for a unified initiative to develop such ratios.” (p. 120, the
12.5 The establishment of counselling centres (Infotheques) has resulted in devel-
opment of Internet tools and more self-services. Some of these initiatives have
been evaluated and the main conclusion is that different clients have different
needs. One of the research studies found three types of client behaviour. The first
group was clients who came and picked up information without any contact with
the counsellors. The second group wanted a limited counsellor contact in order to
ask short questions or get structured information. The third group had more ques-
tions and wanted a personal interview. Some other projects (Lindström, 1999)
show similar results. The researcher talked about three types of client behaviour.
One group, the patients, was passive and wanted a lot of personal help. Another
group, the clients, had a need of personal attention and was also rather passive.
The third group, finally, were called colleagues, and were more proactive and
willing to engage in a lot of activities.
These initiatives and the research connected to them underline the fact that clients
differ in needs and expectations. One main goal for the counsellor is to meet the
person where he or she is. It also stresses the point that good counselling services
must be organised so that neither over serving nor under serving is the result.
12.6-12.8 There are no national research centres that specialise in information,
guidance and counselling. Overall the research around these areas is fragmentary
and based on a few researchers own interest for this mission. As said under 12.4
the area is not prioritised and as a result the reports are few and with no co-
ordination. This year the National Board of Education has taken an initiative in
co-operation with the representatives for training of counsellors. Small pilot-
projects have been funded and it remains to be seen if there’s going to be a con-
Borhagen, K. & Lovén, A. (1991). Vem behöver syo? Stockholm:
Frisam. (2000). Lönsam samverkan för individ och samhälle.
Henrysson, L. (1994). Syo-kulturer i skolan. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell
Jonsson, C. (1989. Om skola och arbete. Umeå: Umeå Universitet, Pedagogiska
Lindh, G. (1997). Samtalet i studie- och yrkesvägledningsprocessen. Stockholm:
Listerman, T. (2000). Hämtare, väljare och frågare. Uppsala universitet.
Institutionen för Kommunikationsvetenskap, Medier och Kommunikation
Lovén, A. (1991). Arbetsvägledning i närbild. Stockholm: Trinom förlag AB.
Lovén, A. (1993). Den ovissa framtiden. Malmö: Lärarhögskolan.
Lovén, A. (1994). Arbetsvägledning i närbild. Vad hände sedan?
Utvecklingsavdelningen, nr 1. Malmö: Lunds Universitet, Lärarhögskolan.
Rapport nr 2002:45 (2002). Studieinformation och vägledning. En utvärdering vid
Studentservice. Lund: Lunds Universitet.
Nilsson-Lindström, M. (1999). En processutvärdering av projektet New Deal.
Lund: Department of Sociology, Lunds Universitet
Nyström, S. (1994). Tröskeleffekter - om samtalsstil och totalutrymme i
nybesökssamtal vid en arbetsförmedling. Stockholm: Pedagogiska
Skolverket. (1997). Utvärdering av grundskolan 1995. -UG 95. Studie- och
yrkesorientering. Årskurs 9. Skolverkets rapport nr 126. Stockholm: Liber Dis-
Skolöverstyrelsen. (1989). Servicematerial S 89:21. Utväg. Utveckling av den
personliga vägledningen inom studie- och yrkesorienteringen. Stockholm.
SOU:1999:39. Vuxenutbildning för alla? Andra året med kunskapslyftet.
SOU 2000:119. Individuellt kompetenssparande, IKS. Utbildningsdepartementet.
SOU 2001:45. Karriärvägledning.se.nu. Utbildningsdepartementet. Stockholm.
An overview of the Swedish School system
Compulsory school includes compulsory basic school, school for the Saami peo-
ples of northern Sweden, special school (for children with impaired sight, hearing
or speech), and compulsory school for mentally handicapped. The nine-year com-
pulsory basic school is for all children between the ages of seven and sixteen
years. If parents prefer, children may start school at six years of age.
Upper secondary school
Almost all of the pupils attending compulsory basic school continue directly to
upper secondary school, and almost all of them complete their upper secondary
schooling within three years (1993).
Upper secondary school is divided into 17 three-year national programmes, all of
which are intended to provide a broad-based education and confer general eligibil-
ity for further studies in higher education. In addition to the national programmes
there are also specially designed and individual programmes.
Young persons are entitled to enter upper secondary school up to the age of 20.
After this they can choose between various forms of municipal adult education.
The National Schools for Adults (SSV) supplement adult education for those who
cannot study at the place where they normally live. Parts of the tuition are in the
form of distance learning. In addition, students visit the SSV schools at regular
intervals for tutored instruction. There are National Schools for Adults in the cities
of Norrköping and Härnosand.
Adult education in Sweden is extensive and based on a long tradition. It is pro-
vided in many different forms and under many different auspices, ranging from
national or municipal adult education to labour market and staff training and com-
petence development at work. The state school system for adults includes munici-
pal adult education (komvux), adult education for the mentally handicapped (sär-
vux), Swedish language teaching for immigrants (sfi) and the National Schools for
Municipal adult education, (komvux), includes both basic and upper secondary
adult education. Komvux started in 1968 for the benefit of adults lacking the
equivalent of basic or upper secondary schooling. A new komvux curriculum
came into force on 1 July 1994.
Basic adult education
Basic adult education corresponds to the nine-year compulsory basic school. This
education is intended to provide a basis for participation in life in the community,
working life and further study. The level at which studies are begun depends on
each individual student’s initial qualifications. Studies are concluded when indi-
vidual educational targets have been met. Students decide their own rate of pro-
gress, and in this way studies can be combined with employment or work experi-
Basic adult education can confer qualifications corresponding to nine years com-
pulsory basic school. The compulsory school-leaving certificate awarded to adults
contains passes in four core subjects: Swedish, or Swedish as a Second Language,
English, Mathematics and Civics. Other courses and subjects can be included in
such a certificate. The municipality has a duty to offer basic adult education to
adults who have not achieved the compulsory basic school leaving certificate.
Upper secondary schooling
Adult upper secondary schooling and upper secondary schooling for young per-
sons have the same syllabuses, and as of 1 July 1994 they share the same curricu-
lum. Adult education is the equivalent of upper secondary school for young peo-
ple, but the two are not identical. Municipal adult education is made up of courses
and the courses in the different subjects follow on from each other. The adult stu-
dents’ qualifications must be adequately supplemented to raise them to the same
level as those of young persons. However, the courses provided may differ from
those in regular upper secondary school as regards emphasis, content and scope.
The students themselves determine the number and combination of subjects to be
taken and the rate of progress. Many students take only one or two courses.
Supplementary education is a form of education in its own right which can pro-
vide further training in a certain occupation or training for a completely new oc-
cupation. Most of these programmes take between six months and a year to com-
plete and focus on subjects such as economics, computing or tourism.
Swedish for immigrants
Swedish for immigrants (sfi) is intended to provide knowledge of the Swedish
language and Swedish society. Municipalities are obliged to offer sfi to newly
arrived adult immigrants. Studies may be variously organised in different munici-
National schools for adults
Sweden has two National Schools for Adults, one in the city of Norrköping and
one in Härnosand. The schools supplement adult education for those unable to
find suitable komvux opportunities in the location where they live. Parts of the
teaching are in the form of distance learning. In addition, the students visit the
SSV schools at regular intervals for tutored instruction.
Folk high schools and adult education associations
Folk high school courses and the study circles and cultural activities organised by
adult education associations are intended for all kinds of people and cover a wide
variety of subjects. The Council for Popular Adult Education is responsible for the
allocation of state grants and for evaluation of these forms of education.
Universities and colleges
Most universities and colleges in Sweden are state run. They exist in more than 20
different places around the country, offering a wide variety of individual courses
and a number of longer study programmes.
Labour market training
Labour market training (AMU) is an instrument of labour market policy primarily
intended as basic vocational education or further training for the unemployed. The
Swedish parliament allocates money to the National Labour Market Board
(AMS), which in turn distributes funding to county labour boards and employ-
ment offices. These purchase various training packages from, for example, kom-
vux, commercial training companies or the AMU Group.
Staff training and competence development
Many workplaces have extensive training programmes for employees at all levels.
In-house training of this kind may involve anything from practical vocational
training to extensive theoretical studies. It may be carried out, for example, in
association with universities and colleges, municipal commissioned training,
AMU (labour market training) or with various commercial training companies.
The National Agency for Higher Education is a central agency responsible for
matters relating to institutions of higher education. Its tasks include quality as-
sessments, supervision, reviews, development of higher education, research and
analysis, evaluations of foreign education and provision of study information. The
Agency provides material that can be used to modify, improve and renew activi-
ties carried out within the higher education sector.
All universities and university colleges are public authorities that are directly ac-
countable to the Government. The Government and Parliament are responsible for
national education planning, while the institutions themselves are responsible for
planning at the local level. The Agency’s role is to provide guidance data for deci-
sions and assessments at both the national and local level.
Appendix 3 The employment office, aim and structure
J o b c e n te r
M a in ta s k s :
- to m a k e u s e o f th e
e x is te n t la b o u r a n d
s w iftly fill a v a ila b le
p o s itio n s
- to a n s w e r to th e la b o u r m a r k e ts
d e m a n d s o n c o m p e te n c e a n d
o p p u p a tio n a l s k ills
- to a c tiv a te in o r d e r to in c r e a s e th e
la b o u r s u p p ly
E m p ly m e n t o f f ic e r s c a r r y o u t t h e m a in t a s k s w it h in
t h e s e r v ic e f u n c t io n s in f o r m a t io n , c o u n s e llin g a n d s u p e r v is io n .
C o u n s e llin g R e h a b ilita tio n
The following list contains some examples of applications on Internet. Most of
them are from AMV, which as a part of the self-service system have developed a
lot of different tools.
Employers can enter their own job vacancy advertisements in the Job Bank, and
also edit and remove them. Employers also have the possibility of adding their
own logotype and a link to their own home page, as well as presenting the enter-
prise, the workplace and/or the working unit concerned in words and pictures.
They can also find out how many people have read his advertisement, simply by
clicking the heading “Inspect adverts” and entering his corporate registration
Through the Job Bank, job seekers can access all job vacancies reported to the
Employment Service. He or she can search by municipality or occupation, or else
construct one - or several - personal search profile. The Job Bank is updated every
day. It contains tens of thousands of job opportunities throughout Sweden. It also
offers links to the web-sites of the employment services in Europe and North
The Job Bank also has a function whereby employers can conduct an individual-
ised recruitment dialogue with job applicants. This application aim at helping em-
ployers to sort large amounts of applicants automatically, thereby rationalising
their administrative efforts to select candidates for interviews. Hopefully, in the
longer term, it will also give us a more realistic picture of the actual selection-
criteria’s used on the labour market, which in turn will help us provide even better
labour market information and make our labour market programmes more effec-
The Job seeker Bank
The Job seeker Bank is an on-line service for firms wishing to recruit new em-
ployees. It contains presentations from job seekers in all fields of activity as eve-
ryone wishing to look for a new job can present himself or herself in the Job
seeker Bank. Searchable words for education, skills and languages, for example,
enable employers to find the right people without difficulty.
Other Internet applications
The Temporary Worker Bank can be used by job seekers looking for short-term
In the database "Image and Artist Bank", artists in search of commissions present
reference pictures in colour and qualifications to potential buyers of their services.
The database "Occupational A to Z" contains descriptions of occupations, show-
ing duties, training alternatives, employment prospects and rates of pay. A list of
closely related occupations is also included.
"Education’s in Sweden" contains up-dated information on more than 3 500 edu-
cation programmes and training courses all over Sweden, as well as information
on different ways of financing studies.
Assessment tools. By answering questions about activities or about duties in vari-
ous occupations, the user obtains an interest profile, which also includes hints on
occupations worth considering.
Studera.nu is a website constructed on the National Agency for Higher Educa-
tion’s initiative. The site will provide information about studies and careers. It
became operational in February 2001.
The aim is to provide prospective Swedish students with a one-stop Internet site
containing relevant information about higher education opportunities, as well as
information about careers and postgraduate studies.
The system is based on co-operation between many organisations, of which insti-
tutions of higher education constitute the largest group. The National Board of
Student Aid, the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Col-
leges and the National Labour Market Board are other major participants in the
The Swedish Confederation of Professional associations has a website with a lot
of information around vocations. The address is www.studentexpo.net.
Syo-guiden is one of the biggest sites in Scandinavia related to information and
guidance. It contains a lot of links structured in different areas.
Future development of the Internet services
Several WAP services and palmtop communication facilities will be introduced,
and the Job Bank will also be accessible on digital television.
The Employment Service will be able to post and administer booking schedules
for various activities and courses, and the first interactive services on the em-
ployment offices’ own home pages will appear during 2002. Through “Activi-
ties”, customers will be able to put their names down and the handling officers
will then be able to select participants for the activities concerned. Later on, em-
ployers will obtain information about training programmes nearing completion, so
as to be able to recruit personnel from among the trainees.
An application enabling visitors to test their own levels of achievement in mathe-
matics, Swedish and English started 2001. My Page is a new function for employ-
ers and job seekers. It offers the customers a personal archive, to facilitate the
(optional) saving of such things as a personal CV, job advertisements, indications
of interest, interesting applicants and applications etc. My Page will also include
e-visits. My page will be introduced in the autumn 2002.
The Culture and Entertainment Bank is a placement service and presentation sys-
tem for professionally active persons offering cultural and entertainment pro-
grammes in music, drama, dance etc.
A new tool and support on Internet for customers and guidance specialists are
called “Choose a vocation”. In the program you get help to map your situation
connected to interests, question around economy, living conditions etc. You’ll end
up with a summary, which you can print out. The programme will also have a
The Activity Guarantee
The activity guarantee for unemployed was instigated August 2000. The activity
guarantee is an employment policy program run by the jobcentre.
Why the activity guarantee is necessary
In many sparsely populated areas many people have been unemployed for a long
time and find it difficult to return to the regular labour market. In the cities too,
there are large groups who find it difficult to get jobs. Many people have got stuck
in a vicious circle alternating between employment policy programs and the un-
employment benefit fund. While many new jobs are appearing, many employers
find it difficult to find personnel with the right skills. The activity guarantee pro-
vides the unemployed with better equipment with which to find work. The main
objective of the activity guarantee is to reduce long-term unemployment, elimi-
nate the long registration periods and take measures to reduce the number of re-
The activity guarantee is designed to considerably improve the unemployed per-
son’s opportunities on the regular labour market. Each participant receives the
support of a job centre supervisor in groups of 10-15 persons while having access
to all the standard employment policy programs simultaneously. When starting
the activity guarantee program the supervisor and the seekers of employment
work out a job action plan. The plan specifies what the job centre can offer and
what is required of the participants. E.g. participants might be required to exhibit
geographical and professional adaptability. The difference from participation in a
single employment policy program is that all the programs available are collected
under the same roof and that the individual job action plan runs like a main thread
throughout all activities.
One of the important foundation stones of the activity guarantee is that work shall
be conducted in close co-operation with the government, municipalities, compa-
nies and parties on the labour market. To break the tendency towards long-term
unemployment it is necessary for the entire municipality or district to get involved
and fine new solutions and accessible routes to the labour market. Another impor-
tant task is to work on finding jobs together with employers from both public and