Guidance System in the Czech Republic – Introduction
There are two main bodies responsible for career guidance and counselling in the Czech Republic: the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí). Both ministries operate networks providing day-to-day career guidance and counselling.
From the school level up to the tertiary professional level, career guidance and counselling services are regulated by the Education Act, the Government Decree on the Provision of Counselling Services in Schools and School Guidance Facilities, the Act on Teaching Staff and other related legislation. Career guidance and counselling for pupils and students is provided directly at schools and school guidance facilities. These provide standard guidance services free of charge on the request of pupils, their legal representatives, schools or educational facilities.
Under the Higher Education Act, universities are required to provide candidates, students and other persons with information and counselling services relating to their studies and to employment opportunities for graduates of study programmes. Most public universities provide this service through in-house Career Counselling Centres.
Under the Employment Act, the Implementing Decree, and other related legislation, career guidance and counselling services for people requiring assistance in employment matters are provided by the Labour Office of the Czech Republic (Úřad práce České republiky, ÚP) and private employment agencies (agentura práce).
The activities of both these guidance systems are merged to provide counselling services to pupils leaving primary and secondary school. To a certain extent, both guidance systems use the same work procedures and sources of information. Although the official documents do not specifically state that this should be an integrated system of guidance services, the basis for such a system is being unsystematically, but progressively, developed in both sectors.
In addition to the Labour Office, other actors provide careers advice for adults, including NGOs, employer associations and private employment agencies. A wide range of services for specific target groups is provided by non-governmental organisations and funded by different sources, mainly on a temporary basis (e.g. the European Social Fund, the European Lifelong Learning Programme, etc.). Career counselling projects funded by EU sources have been expanded where delivered by external specialists, however these are not always well linked with other services and for the most part they operate independently of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Awareness of their activities is therefore fragmentary. However, those activities have contributed to the development of career guidance/counselling in the Czech Republic and have created a need for regulation of the whole range of career counselling services as a profession, with its own professional standards and training.