Below we provide a brief overview of the Swedish guidance system. For those who would like to know more, there is a comprehensive description in the Inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices, provided by Cedefops´network CareersNet.


In Sweden educational and vocational guidance is provided throughout the entire educational system, as well as within the Public Employment Service (PES):

  • The Swedish School law states that pupils should receive guidance before making choices for their future. It also regulates who can be hired as a school counsellor.
  • Universities are bound by law to provide study and career guidance for their students.
  • The PES offices are to offer guidance to young people, the newly arrived in Sweden and those outside the labour market. It is regulated in several ordinances.

The actual services of information and guidance are usually provided within the schools or other educational institutions, but there are also municipalities that offer guidance through an external, central guidance centre. The private sector is quite limited in Sweden, but there are some private employment offices and companies that specialise in career guidance and coaching.

Guidance and information services are also offered through publicly funded web services. The national education portal is a website for students, parents and professionals in the field of education. informs Swedish citizens about higher education. The Swedish Public Employment Service provides descriptions of different professions and offers labour market forecasts.

Both local, regional and national career fairs are arranged regularly in different parts of Sweden for pupils who are about to take their next steps within studies or work. Individual career guidance is often offered during these events.


In Sweden, the mission to offer guidance services is regulated by law for schools, higher education institutions and the national employment service. To promote a uniform use of legislation within the school system, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has published general guidelines in career education and guidance that provide recommendations on how relevant regulations can be applied.

In general, guidance is part of broader education and employment initiatives and usually not treated as a political area of its own. The two ministries involved are the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Employment.

The Swedish National Agency for Education is the central administrative authority for the Swedish public school system for children, young people and adults. They get guidelines from the Ministry, but work independently. However, municipalities have the main responsibility for guidance in the Swedish school system. They have great freedom to form their own services of guidance and counselling in accordance with national curricula and ordinances for schools. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) conducts regular supervision of all municipal and independent schools, from pre-school to adult education, also in the area of guidance.

The Higher Education Institutions also enjoy a great deal of freedom within the framework of the regulations laid down by the Government. The institutions themselves decide how to plan their operations in the area of guidance and counselling. Two main national agencies are relevant in this area. The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet, UHR) acts as The National Agency for Erasmus+, coordinates admissions to Higher Education institusions and evaluates foreign qualifications. As a result, guidance counsellors are an important target group for the Agency. The Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet) reviews the quality of higher education and monitors how efficiently the higher education institutions operate. They have the possibility to review guidance services at University level.

Also the counselling services for those in search of employment are mainly designed at the local Employment Offices, in accordance with the guidelines from the Swedish Public Employment Service Head Office. The local PES-office decides on appropriate services/activities for each individual.

Financing of guidance services is usually part of the total funding for the education and employment sectors, and not specifically designated for guidance-related actions. However, in recent years, the ministries have taken major national initiatives focused on guidance, to develop and strengthen the services.

A National Forum for Guidance was established as an arena for discussions between Swedish stakeholders in the area of lifelong guidance. Forum members are representatives of National Agencies, as well as the Swedish Career Guidance Education. The National Agency for Education acts as chair of the meetings.


In Sweden guidance services are mainly provided by public actors;

Guidance in schools (including adult education)

Approximately 2000 persons are employed as guidance counsellors within the Swedish school system. Many of them work for several schools, responsible for aprox. 520 pupils at compulsory school level, aprox. 380 pupils at upper secondary level and aprox. 320 students within the municipal adult education (Komvux), according to a previous study.”

Counselling is given to pupils both individually and in group sessions. There are no compulsory lessons in career education, but counsellors occasionally have lessons/information sessions in both compulsory and secondary school. This most often occurs with different choices. For instance, most pupils in the ninth grade have personal interviews with their counsellor about their future plans and the choice of programme in upper secondary school. Many pupils also meet their counsellor before they have their week of working life experience in the eighth and ninth grade. There is ongoing work to integrate career guidance in teaching and handle it as a responsibility of the entire school.

Guidance at Universities

There are about 50 university colleges, universities and independent higher education providers. No official statistics on the number of guidance counsellors at University level are available, but a rough estimation is that 700 experts work with providing guidance services at higher education institutions. Guidance services at universities are organised centrally (for first contacts), at departments and/or faculty level (study counselling) and at career centres (career choices, summer jobs, trainee vacancies etc).

Guidance within the Public Employment Service

Guidance for employment is provided through the PES Internet, Customer Service (skype and telephone) and face-to-face at the local PES-offices around the country. Approx. 340 specialist career counsellors and 9 000 non-specialists in guidance provide information and career advise.


The training opportunities addressed to guidance counsellors in Sweden are offered both as basic academic education, in-service training and as various further training opportunities;

Academic education:

The Bachelor programme, 180 ECTS, leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Study and Career Guidance is offered at three universities in Sweden;

  • Malmö University (Only in Swedish)
  • Stockholm University (Only in Swedish)
  • Umeå University (Only in Swedish)

The education starts every autumn, both on campus and on distance. The focus of the degree is on theory and practice of career counselling. It also includes social sciences; knowledge of society, working life and education; behavioural sciences; knowledge of psychology, education and sociology. In addition, the education includes three periods of placements, mainly in schools, but also in other fields.

  • The Master´s Programme in Career Development and Career Counselling, 120 ECTS (Only in Swedish) aims to provide deeper knowledge of how individuals construct their careers, both from individual and societal perspectives. Special attention is given to developing the ability to independently integrate and use the acquired knowledge in the field of career management and the scientific analysis of this process.
In-service training provided by the respective employer:
  • In-service training for study counsellors at universities – employees with a general academic degree, working as study counsellors, get training in guidance theory and practice
  • In-service training for the employees working with guidance at the Public Employment Offices. Different modules in guidance methods and practices.
Further training aimed at guidance practitioners:
  • Training provided by the employer: further training and information days for guidance practitioners in municipalities on current topics and developments of relevance to the guidance community.
  • Competence development provided by National Agencies: trainings, seminars, conferences organised for guidance practitioners about the expert areas of the different stakeholders, and in connection to special missions and projects.
  • Competence development provided by interest organisations, such as the National Union for Teachers and the Swedish Association for Guidance Counsellors.


The Research Network for Career Development and Guidance (KAV) is a national network funded by the Swedish Research Council, Forte, and the three Universities responsible for the Career Guidance Education. The network consists of approximately 25 senior and junior researchers from a number of disciplines and universities.

The overall purpose of the KAV network is to serve as an arena for the exchange of research between related fields and researchers regarding career development, transition between school and work as well as career guidance, from primary school to working life.

Research areas are for example:

  • Career development among young immigrants
  • International counselling
  • Interpersonal behaviour in counselling
  • Methods and theories in guidance counselling
  • The evaluation and development of guidance and counselling
  • Modern technology as a tool in the delivery of counselling services
  • The counselling interview

Within the network research is carried out in a variety of projects. There are two new research projects in the field of transition and career development:

  • A project aimed at raising the knowledge about young persons the upper secondary school's introductory programme. Ultimately, the project will provide suggestions on how to strengthen the opportunities for education and work for pupils without full primary school grades.
  • A study of professional considerations and priorities - inclusion and recognition of newly arrived young people and young adults through study and career guidance.


The Swedish Association of Guidance Counsellors (Sveriges Vägledarförening, SAGC) organises around 1,200 Swedish guidance professionals from all sectors, including schools, adult education, higher education and employment offices. SAGC has developed a Declaration of Ethics to provide support for those working to provide guidance as well as those who seek or require guidance.

According to the declaration guidance often takes place in contexts where there could be a conflict between the interests of the individual and the interests of society/organisations, and where differing needs and obligations need to be considered and compared. The ethical guidelines are meant to support ethical consideration about such dilemmas.

The Declaration of Ethics is based on the ethical values that may be found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU resolution on guidance 9286/04 and the OECD (2007) Career Guidance - Handbook for Decision Makers.

The Association has also appointed a Council of Ethics, which is to develop and keep track of issues concerning the ethics of guidance. The Council of Ethics may also be of assistance when dilemmas arise and offer support when decisions are particularly difficult.

The National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas Riksförbund) is a Trade Union for qualified teachers and guidance counsellors. They organise around 2,000 Swedish career guidance counsellors and they have issued ethical occupational guidelines in the area (Only in Swedish)

Last updated at: October 2021