Guidance System in Slovakia – Introduction
Career guidance and counselling services have a long tradition in Slovakia (until 1992 part of Czechoslovakia or Czech and Slovak Federal Republic). First career guidance and counselling facilities have been established even in late 1920’s, services of this kind were available especially for young people during 1930´s and early 1940´s. The current system of guidance and counselling services started to develop in 1957 and since then it was under permanent development to today’s network of services covering nearly all ages and the whole variety of problem areas. When speaking about used and/or preferred approaches there is a shift from static and psychometric approaches in vocational counselling to dynamic educational and integrated lifelong career guidance and counselling services.
Career guidance in Slovakia is covered mainly by two sectors – educational sector and sector of employment services. Services organised under the regional governments or ministries are available to various groups of citizens and are free of charge. Although this area is still a domain of state, some services are offered by private sector as well as by sector of NGO´s.
Within educational system there is a quite large network of guidance and counselling practitioners in different institutions, where inseparable part of their job is to cooperate in helping pupils, students, parents and other educators to get acquainted with the world of education and the world of work. Teachers in position of educational counsellors, educators for children with special needs and school psychologists (if available – school psychologists are not common in all schools) provide information, guidance and counselling services at schools. These experts closely cooperate with centres of educational and psychological counselling and prevention. For pupils and students with disabilities there is a possibility to use services of counselling centres for those with special education needs. Research Institute for Child Psychology and Pathopsychology (Výskumný ústav detskej psychológie a patopsychológie, VÚDPaP) provides methodological, training and supervisory activities for centres for educational and psychological counselling and prevention (currently there are more than 80 centres operating in Slovakia). These services are subordinated to the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport and to the Ministry of Interior.
In the organisational structure of the Central Office and Offices of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, subordinated to the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, there are units serving as career information and guidance services, mainly for adults, registered unemployed and employed people. This particular help for those in search of job is offered by Information and Guidance Centres, units existing in each district office. Offices of Labour, Social Affairs and Family provide also counselling services, focusing mostly on disadvantaged groups of job seekers. Central Office of Labour, Social Affair and Family (Ústredie práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny, UPSVaR) manages, controls, directs and coordinates the performance of 46 local offices of labour, social affairs and family. It performs state administration in the field of social affairs (social benefits, social assistance, counselling and psychological services, etc.) and employment (evidence of unemployed and vacancies, recruitment, implementation of active labour market measures, counselling, etc.).
Career guidance in Slovakia is provided mainly as a part of more complex educational, psychological, counselling and social services. As a result of this, those who can be referred to as guidance practitioners have various qualifications ranging from psychological, pedagogical, andragogical to education in social sciences and accumulate more functions (e. g., teachers, psychologists, social workers, etc.).
In relation to the development of the National Qualification Framework, the newly established Association for Career Guidance and Counselling and Career Development (2014) initiated in 2015 the development of so called National Standards of three different occupations from the field of career guidance and counselling services with detailed description of required knowledge, general and occupation related skills and competences. Suggested occupations are based on the model developed by the NICE project (2015), and are strictly cross-sector, and also multidisciplinary. On the basis of these occupational standards also qualification standards will be developed soon.