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Guidance System in Iceland – Introduction

Educational and vocational guidance in Iceland is a relatively young profession and has developed rapidly over the last two decades. School counselling and guidance within the educational system has been the most dominant factor over the years but recently vocational guidance within the Public Employment Services and guidance within human resource departments of learning enterprises has grown considerably.

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Iceland offers a Master’s programmes for potential counsellors who hold a bachelor degree in e.g. social sciences, education or other subjects.

Guidance has mostly been the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, but the Ministry of Social Affairs has developed vocational guidance within the Public Employment Services. Other actors who have influenced the development of guidance are e.g. local authorities and experts in the field of guidance, trade unions, employers and various associations, including The Icelandic Educational and Vocational Guidance Association.

The division of guidance affairs is based upon different clients, different subjects, different settings and different ways of funding. No formal channels exist in the co-operation of the actors responsible, but most innovations in the field of guidance have occurred when ministries, professionals and the social partners have combined resources.