The main aim of all guidance and counselling in Finland is to support individuals in making educational choices and managing their careers based on the principle of lifelong learning. Everybody in Finland is entitled to guidance and counselling services regardless of whether they are studying, working, unemployed or outside of the labour market. The public education and employment authorities and education providers, normally municipalities, are the main actors responsible for guidance and counselling services. Their functions and goals are mutually complementary. Education and training institutions bear the main responsibility for guidance and counselling of pupils and students, whereas public employment services provided by municipalities and municipal co-management areas (employment areas) are primarily intended for those outside education and training.

There are almost 70 multi-agency One-Stop Guidance Centers across Finland providing information and guidance fast and based on need for persons under 30 years of age. From January 2025 onwards employment areas are obligated to organize joint services for young people, such as the current One-Stop Guidance centers.

The youth sector is also involved in offering information, guidance, and counselling to young people. These services are provided by municipalities and various organisations.



In Finland, there is a strong legal basis for guidance service provision across all levels of education and training from general to higher education and for the services to be provided by the employment administration such as vocational guidance and career planning.

National Lifelong Guidance Forum and Strategy

Finland has consistently worked towards creating a coherent and holistic lifelong guidance system that is easily accessible for all individuals at a time, place and method most appropriate to their needs. This has been done in close cooperation and in mutual understanding between the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and other key stakeholders. They are represented in the National Lifelong Guidance Forum appointed in 2020 to coordinate and develop lifelong guidance. The national cross-sectoral policy development is complemented by 15 regional lifelong guidance working groups.

The Strategy for Lifelong Guidance drawn up by the Lifelong Guidance Forum and its Secretariat presents strategic objectives for the development of guidance. The Strategy and its concrete recommendations and measures are linked to the priorities of the government term of 2020-2023. However, the long-term objectives of the strategy extend further into the future. Therefore, the implementation of the Lifelong Guidance Strategy has been extended to 2028. According to strategic objectives, guidance should be evidence-based, accessible and customer-oriented, equal and sustainable, digital, high-quality, cross-sectoral and coordinated. The Lifelong Guidance Forum regularly updates and monitors the implementation of the strategy. The implementation of the strategy is supported by several national development projects.



Information, guidance and counselling services are offered by several operators. In addition to public services, the third sector and private operators also offer guidance services.

Guidance at different levels of education

The pupils and students have a legal right for guidance and counselling services at educational institutions with a specified time allocation. These services mostly consist of individual, group or class-based guidance sessions as well as of working life familiarization. Services are provided by a wide range of personnel depending on the level and type of education and training.

In the comprehensive or basic education there are guidance counsellors and class teachers. At the general upper secondary level guidance counsellors, group advisors and teachers are responsible for offering guidance and counselling according to their professional roles and tasks. Pupils who require special support in basic education receive more individual guidance for moving to further studies than other pupils. When guiding pupils, the guidance counsellor works in cooperation with experts from different fields. The extension of compulsory education entered into force in 2021, raising the minimum school leaving age to 18 years. As a result, the importance of guidance has increased. Providers of basic education, general upper secondary education and vocational education and training, other providers of compulsory education and, ultimately, the learner’s municipality of residence have an obligation to provide guidance and supervise the completion of compulsory education.

Guidance counsellors and teachers provide guidance in vocational education and training in upper secondary level and career counsellors and group advisors do that in adult education. The goals of the services are defined in the national core curricula. Good guidance criteria are a recommendation that has been made for the purpose of developing and ensuring the quality of guidance in basic education, general upper secondary education and VET. In higher education guidance counsellors in universities of applied sciences, student services staff, academic staff, careers, and recruitment services in universities are involved in guidance delivery.

Guidance in the employment sector

Guidance and counselling in public employment services are offered by career guidance psychologists at vocational guidance and career planning services and by other experts according to their job profiles. The services provided by the employment sector are targeted mostly at unemployed and employed young people and adults, who are outside of education and training. The main aim is to support access and integration to the labour market by means of various forms of support that enhance the individual’s employability. This can be training, work try-outs, rehabilitation, language learning for migrants, and beyond.

Guidance services for young people

Youth information and counselling is preventive youth work. Its objective is to provide specialised information, guidance and counselling concerning different issues and situations in young people’s lives. Youth information and counselling work supports young people’s growth, independence and well-being. The basis for the services is the information and support needs of young people. They are directed at young people themselves, but also at young people’s parents and others who are professionally or otherwise involved with young people. Services are provided by municipalities and various organisations. Youth information centres or points (local and regional) are today more and more part of the multisectoral One-stop Guidance Centres which are focused for counselling young people with issues of employment and studying. Municipalities and other organisations use increasingly social media tools and platforms to meet the information and counselling needs of young people.


The One-Stop Guidance Centers for young adults are offering assistance with various issues related to your own life, such as studying, finding employment, housing, and welfare. A One-Stop Guidance Center will not directly provide an apartment or social assistance, for example, but you will be provided plenty of information and support for applying for these things. The services are tailored according to the needs of the clients and the aim is to assist and support the young person until a more long-lasting or permanent solution has been found. The information and counselling services are multi-channel, you can access them for example face to face, online or by phone. The services provided by the One-Stop Guidance Centers and the professionals who work in the centers vary slightly between localities. One-Stop Guidance Centers welcome persons under the age of 30 with all possible issues.



Finland has a strongly professionalized system of guidance certified to international standards. The qualifications of the guidance counsellors in comprehensive and secondary level education as well as of the career counselling psychologists are defined in legislation. The qualification requirements for counsellors working in higher education are not laid down by law.

Training and qualification of guidance counsellors at comprehensive and secondary level education

All guidance counsellors are required qualification for teachers (a master’s degree or a special qualification for vocational-school teachers). In addition, all guidance counsellors must have a certificate of the completion of specialist postgraduate diploma in guidance and counselling (60 ECTS). Another option is to take a master’s degree programme in guidance and counselling (300 ECTS, which includes the pedagogical training equivalent with 60 ECTS).

Most of the guidance counsellors in Finland have obtained their certificate within multimodal training (60ECTS) which meets the legally defined qualifications. All these programmes use a blended learning approach and many of the students have previous experience of guidance and counselling. These programmes are available in the training units: University of Eastern Finland, University of Jyväskylä, Åbo Akademi University (Swedish) or Universities of Applied Sciences: HAAGA-HELIA, HAMK, JAMK, OAMK or TAMK. Two universities also provide Master’s degree programmes: University of Eastern Finland and University of Jyväskylä. Universities provide postgraduate studies. The curricula in guidance counselling trainings are competence-based.

Training and qualification of career guidance and counselling professionals in the employment sector and other fields

A prerequisite of a career guidance psychologist in the public employment services in Finland is a master’s degree in psychology. Many career guidance psychologists also pursue postgraduate studies in working life and organizational psychology. The qualification requirements for other professionals working on information-advice-and-guidance related duties at public employment services are not prescribed by law. Nevertheless, almost all these professionals have a vocational qualification or a university degree. Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment organizes in-service training for all labour administration staff.

Guidance work emerges in different sectors and the competence of those engaged in guidance work varies according to heterogeneous educational backgrounds. Although the basic training and skills requirements of some guidance professionals are clear (e.g. guidance counsellors and career counselling psychologists), in practice many other professional groups perform guidance in different settings.

Specialist training for career guidance and counselling (30 ECTS) has been established for career guidance and counseling practitioners who have completed a higher education degree and are already employed. The training promotes the professional development and offers professionals of various fields the opportunity to develop and deepen their career guidance and counselling skills and expertise. The trainings are implemented as a networked cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences.



The guidance counsellor training units in universities and universities of applied sciences continuously conduct academic and applied research to address new phenomena and themes in the field of lifelong guidance in Finland. Many of these actors collaborate with universities and research institutes in other countries in international research and development projects.

Guidance and counselling are studied in Finland in several disciplines, such as education, sociology, psychology, and educational psychology. One of the current goals is to develop forums and approaches that enable integration of research and findings in different disciplines.

Research topics range from studies on individual experiences and life courses and educational paths to detailed analyses of interaction and societal structures and their reproduction and/or change in practices of guidance and counselling. Also, possibilities and problems in digitalization and green and just transition have received increasing attention in research.

Network for Guidance and counselling research in Finland, a special interest group under Finnish Association for Educational Research (FERA) strives to develop multidisciplinary discussion on guidance and counselling related research. The network also strives to build collaboration with researchers and research institutes in Europe and elsewhere.



The Finnish Association of Guidance Counsellors (SOPO in Finnish) is a pedagogical association under the Trade Union of Education in Finland. SOPO has released ethical guidelines for correct professional conduct among guidance counsellors working in the educational sector in 2009, updated in 2021. Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance counsellor training, too.

The Finnish Psychological Association has its own ethical guidelines for psychologists. They guide the work of vocational guidance psychologists who are employed by the Finnish public employment services. Moreover, the national legislation, governmental decisions and guidelines apply to the work of psychologists.


See also:CEDEFOP Country report of Lifelong Guidance Systems and Practices in Finland (2021)


Last updated at: June 2024