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Guidance System in Sweden – Introduction

Sweden has a long history of offering public guidance services. Already in the 1940´s the employment offices started to offer career guidance for their clients. The underlying principle has always been that guidance is an individual right that should be free of charge and available to as many groups as possible.

Today 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 the different choices for their future. It also regulates who can be hired as a school counsellor. Universities are also bound by law to provide study and career guidance for their students. The PES offices are to provide guidance to young people, newly arrived in Sweden and those who are far from the labour market. Guidance is included in the PES´s basic mission and 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 examples of municipalities that offer guidance for schools through an external, central guidance centre. Guidance services are also offered within the local PES- offices around Sweden and in local municipal guidance and information centres for adults as well as within universities and university colleges. The private sector is quite limited in Sweden, but there are private employment offices and companies that specialise in career guidance and coaching.

Guidance and information services are also offered through publicly funded web services. One of these services is the national education portal Utbildningsinfo.se (www.utbildningsinfo.se), a website for students, pa¬rents and professionals in the field of education. Studera.nu (www.studera.nu) is a website where Swedish citizens can learn more about higher education. The Swedish Public Employment Service provides about 450 descriptions of different professions including interviews, films etc on their web site. They also provide labour market forecasts. (www.arbetsformedlingen.se).

Career fairs are arranged regularly in different parts of Sweden. They are often organised in cooperation between local employers and upper secondary schools, where pupils in the ninth grade is the target group. Every year national “SACO“ and “Nolia” fairs are also organised to provide information about post-secondary opportunities for pupils from secondary school and adult education. Individual career guidance is usually offered during these events.

In Sweden, guidance issues are part of broader education and employment initiatives and 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. Sweden has a decentralised system for decision-making, which means that the local municipal authorities plan their services of career and educational guidance, in line with appropriation documents and school curricula. The guidance that takes place at university level and other higher educational institutions is, in the same way, the local responsibility of each university, in line with national goals and ordinances. Also the counselling services for those in search of work is mainly designed at the local employment offices, in accordance with the guidelines from the Swedish PES Head Office. Financing of guidance services is part of the total funding for the local municipality, the local university and/or the local employment office. No sum of money is specifically designated for guidance-related actions, unless in connection to special initiatives or investments.

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 statutes (laws, ordinances, rules and regulations) can be applied.