In Ireland, guidance is provided nationally via state funding and private practice. The delivery, provision and activities of guidance services will vary depending on

  • the relevant policies in place;
  • staff resources available;
  • the client cohort and the age of that client cohort;
  • the institutional setting

In the education and training sector, guidance services can be integrated into and delivered within the overall education / training programme or co-ordinated to ensure provision to a specific education and training programme. More specifically, DoE (Irish Department of Education) funded guidance is provided in Post Primary Schools(for students aged 12 -18 years) and in FET(VET) which includes the Adult Educational Guidance Initiative (AEGI), Post Leaving Cert / Colleges of Further Education (PLC/CFE), Youthreach/ Community Training Centres (CTCs) etc. In the Higher Education Sector, the student support services include Careers Offices, Mature Student and Access Offices, International Office and Disability supports. In the Public Employment Sectori.e. through the Irish Department of Social Protection (DSP) guidance related services are provided in Intreo offices and by EmployAbility and local employment and job placements services.

Education & Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) has responsibility for the support and development of guidance practice in all areas of education and to inform the policy of the Department in the field of guidance.The ETBI also hosts the Euroguidance Centre Ireland.

For more detailed information please consult: https://www.etbi.ie/andwww.euroguidance.ie


In line with a 2007National Guidance Forumdefinition:

Guidance facilitates people throughout their lives to manage their own educational, training, occupational, personal, social, and life choices so that they reach their full potential and contribute to the development of a better society.

In Ireland, Lifelong Guidance is provided within education and training, for and with the labour market, and requires delivery approaches that are tailored to the target client group (e.g. students/adult learners etc.).

The Irish Education Act 1998, section 9(c) includes reference to the provision of guidance in schools in the following sections and subsections:

‘a recognised school shall….use its available resources to….'

  • ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices;
  • promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school.

Section 30 states that:

'The Minister may, from time to time, following such consultation with patrons of schools, national associations of parents, recognised school management organisations and recognised trade unions and staff associations representing teachers, as the Minister considers appropriate, prescribe the curriculum for recognised schools' - namely

  • the guidance and counselling provision to be offered in schools
  • may give directions to schools, where he or she considers it appropriate, to ensure that the subjects, syllabuses pursued in schools are appropriate and relevant to the educational and vocational needs of the students in those schools

There are a number of key legislation, policy statements, circulars and documents published by the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) and DES which relate directly or indirectly to guidance provision. Some of these are outlined below.

For more visit:https://www.etbi.ie/fet-guidance/



There is no formal provision for Guidance in primary schools in Ireland in the lifelong context. As part of the primary school curriculum, Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the child.


Guidance in post-primary schools within the lifelong context is aimed at students from the ages of 12 to 18 and relates to programmes from levels 3 to 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications. The Guidance programme is provided to both junior and senior cycle students.

Guidance is an entitlement in post-primary schools as per the Education Act (1998) Section 9 which states that a school shall use its available resources to(c) ensure that students have access to appropriate guidance to assist them in their educational and career choices.

Guidance in post-primary schools is a whole school activity that is integrated into all school programmes. Guidance in schools “refers to a range of learning experiences provided in developmental sequence that assist students to develop self-management skills which will lead to effective choices and decisions about their lives. It encompasses the three separate, but interlinked areas of personal and social development, educational guidance and career guidance.”

The documentGuidelines for Second-Level Schools on the Implications of Section 9(c) of the Education Act 1998, Relating to Students' Access to Appropriate Guidance (DES, 2005), indicates that a guidance programme should be part of a school plan and identifies the central role of the guidance counsellor as well as the important contribution of different members of staff to the role of guidance. The Whole School Guidance Plan for the school should take account of the needs of all Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate students. Guidance also forms part of the curriculum in the Transition Year Programme (TYP), the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP).


Further Education and Training (FET)

Information and Guidance Services in the Further Education and Training (FET/VET) sector provide impartial careers and education information, one-to-one guidance and group guidance, which help people to make informed educational, career and life choices. FET Information and Guidance Services are provided to adults aged 18 years and over, and those over 16 who have left school early who areinterested inparticipating inprogrammes on the National Framework of Qualifications Levels 1 – 6.

Guidance is provided in the FET (VET) sector through various services, including FET / Adult Education Guidance Services, Colleges of Further Education / PLC Programmes, Youthreach / CTCs, Training Centres, Adult and Community Education, Youth Information, BTEI and Prison Services.

The delivery of Further Education and Training is the responsibility of the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), funded bySOLAS(the further education and training authority).

Guidance in Further Education and Training is informed by theFurther Education and Training (VET) Strategy 2020-2024.

For more see:https://www.etbi.ie/fet-guidance/

Higher Education

All Universities and Institutes of Technology (IoTs) have career and counselling services available to students. Career services are based in Career Advisory and Appointments Offices, and counselling services are offered through the Student Counselling Service. The main provision is targeted at final year students and recent graduates, although some career services have started to provide careers education in the curriculum of undergraduate courses. The Careers Advisory/Appointments Office provides information on educational and employment opportunities to students and graduates. Students can meet with a Careers Adviser for educational and career guidance.

TheAssociation of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS)is the representative association for careers advisory and placement professionals in higher education in Ireland. Representatives from AHECS regularly attendThe National Forum on Guidance

The Higher Education Authority is the statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research in Ireland. The HEA has wide advisory powers throughout the whole of the third-level education sector and published aNational Strategy for Higher Education to 2030in 2011.

Public Employment Sector

Within the DEASP, the services of the Intreo Case Officer are not specifically referred to as guidance provision, but employment services. The following outlines the 1-1 process: A client of DSP will be invited to attend a Group Information Session first and this is followed with a 1-1 meeting with the Case Officer. Clients are required to sign a Personal Progression Plan form to agree to the activities required in the job search agreed with the Case Officer. An Employment Support Record is created for every person who is activated. The persons Probability of Exit (PEX) profile will determine the frequency of the appointments with the Case Officer. An Activation Review Meeting (ARM) is scheduled within the activation case management system whereby a letter is sent out to the client to invite into a one-to-one meeting with their assigned case officer. The Case Officer discusses a range of options available to the client including referrals to training, community employment schemes, disability services, Job Ireland etc.


Guidance services in the educational sector are based in post-primary schools, higher and further education colleges and through adult and second chance education programmes. To work in guidance in different educational settings, qualifications vary according to the requirements of the role and the employee. TheDES Programme recognition framework: Guidance Counsellingsets out criteria and guidelines for providers of initial education programmes in guidance counselling who intend that their programme graduates will work in guidance services under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES).

Guidance counsellors working in all educational settings should keep abreast of ongoing changes and developments in fields relevant to guidance such as educational and training opportunities, ICT and the world of work and professions/occupations. Guidance counsellors should also avail of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities as provided by bodies such as the National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE), the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) and the Adult Educational Guidance Association of Ireland (AEGAI). In addition, guidance counsellors in the AEGS and schools should avail of guidance counselling supervision, where available.

There are eight areas of competence which should be addressed by programme providers seeking recognition from the DES for their programmes in guidance counselling:

  • Guidance theory and professional practice
  • Counselling skills in a guidance context
  • Labour market, learning and career-related information
  • Teaching and learning: design, delivery and evaluation of programmes/learning experiences
  • Communicating, collaborating and networking
  • Research and evidence-informed practice
  • Leading and managing the guidance service
  • Psychometric testing

At present in Ireland 3 Universities currently offer Masters/Postgraduate Diploma programmes that are approved by DES.

  • Dublin City University
  • Maynooth University
  • University of Limerick

In the Public Employment Sector - Currently, DESP provides a “Case officer Learning Path” in conjunction with National College of Ireland (NCI). This programme is delivered by NCI, a Certificate in Employability Services (Special Purpose Award at NFQ Level 8). This is a 15 day- attendance programme, with 4 distinct modules. All Case Officers will be required to attend this programme. The programme aims that." Learners will develop advanced case- management skills and be able to critically assess a range of clients. Learners will be skilled in the application of a range of skills to evaluate, motivate, coach, train and counsel, mentor and advise clients". This does not provide guidance training or a “guidance qualification.


Research pertaining to guidance in Ireland is commissioned / undertaken by numerous stakeholders including - The Higher Education Authority and guidance counsellor training centres(i.e. universities). Many of these actors collaborate with universities and research institutes in other countries in international research and development projects. TheESRIproduces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.

In January 2018 the Irish Minister for Education and Skills announced a review of career guidance in post-primary schools, further education and training centres and higher education institutions. The purpose of the review is to ensure that Ireland provides a high quality, relevant career guidance support service to all students from post –primary level up to further and higher education.

In September 2017 The Minister for Education and Skills welcomed the launch of The National Centre for Guidance in Education’s (NCGE) ‘Whole School Guidance Framework’. This document highlights the key role of the guidance counsellor in schools, working with other school staff, in the delivery and planning of guidance to students. A copy of the document was issued to every post-primary school in the country. The Framework was developed over a three year timeframe and was informed by similar frameworks published internationally. It follows a public consultation process from late 2016, ministerial review, and receipt of commentary from other stakeholders including employer organisations. NCGE has invited a number of schools to work with the Centre in implementing the Framework. It is NCGE’s intention to review the Framework after three years, taking account of feedback from schools, so that it is up-to-date, responds to the needs of schools and supports the development of good practice.


Ethical guidelines inform professional conduct for guidance service staff and provide a framework within which guidance counsellors can make appropriate decisions relating to client issues, work practices, and referrals. Ethical practice and professional conduct within a guidance service helps to ensure quality service provision to clients. Professional guidance staff in Irelandwhoare engaged in the delivery of guidance to clients are encouraged to become a member of a professional organisation. The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) is one such professional body, which currently represents over 1,200 practitionerswww.igc.ie. The IGC Code of Ethics covers principles concerning competence, conduct, confidentiality, consent and research.


Some managing agencies have developed their own Code of Ethics / Practice for Guidance Counsellors. Where staff is employed by such agencies, they must also remain conscious of such guidelines and address any differences or conflicts which may arise between different Codes of Ethics and/or practice.

Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance counsellor training offered in Ireland.

Reference nationally is also made toIAEVG Ethical Guidelines.

Further information can be found at Cedefop (2020) -Inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices - Ireland

Last updated at: May 2024