OVERVIEW

In Croatia guidance, counselling and information services are provided for all citizens who study, work, are unemployed or wish to make a career change. The services that support lifelong learning and career development are provided by national authorities in the education and employment sector and are free of charge.

POLICY

Provision and development of lifelong guidance in Croatia is overseen by the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Labour and Pension System. These two are further supported by different authorities at national, regional and local levels, including the Croatian Employment Service (and its national, regional and local branches); the Education and Teacher Training Agency, the Agency for Science and Higher Education, the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education, and many others. In order to bring together relevant stakeholders from the above-mentioned sectors with the objective of developing more efficient and systematic policies, measures and activities through national strategies, the Lifelong Guidance Forum, a policy advisory network on lifelong guidance, was established in 2015.

At national level, lifelong guidance in the education and training sector in Croatia is indirectly regulated by the Act on Education and Care in Elementary and Secondary Schools and the Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education. However, these documents do not define a systematic stakeholder approach, nor do they define concrete responsibilities of each of the actors in the provision of guidance and counselling services.

A more systematic set of measures has been introduced with the national Strategy for Lifelong Career Guidance in the Republic of Croatia for the period 2016-2020, which represents an initial step in the establishment of quality lifelong career guidance system in Croatia, by providing a formal framework of priorities, measures and stakeholders in the education and employment sectors. The Action Plan for the year 2018, which accompanies the Strategy, provides an elaborate list of activities to respond to challenges identified in the Strategy and defines stakeholders' roles, competences and responsibilities in the provision of lifelong guidance.

The Strategy of Education, Science and Technology in Croatia aims to build a system for identifying, encouraging and developing individuals' competencies and potential and to reinforce lifelong career guidance providers. Special emphasis is put on the need to introduce lifelong career guidance at all levels of the education and training system, from pre-school education through primary and secondary education, higher education and ultimately reaching adult education.

The Programme for the Development of Vocational Education and Training in Croatia, adopted in late 2016, provides a vision of vocational education and training in the 2016 – 2020 period, placing special emphasis on its quality and efficiency, making it attractive, innovative and synchronised with the needs of the labour market, while at the same time enabling the acquisition of competences for personal and professional growth and lifelong learning.

SERVICES AND PRACTICE

Lifelong guidance in Croatia is delivered in the sectors of education and employment:

Within the primary and secondary education system, guidance services are delivered in primary and secondary schools and are mostly performed by the non-teaching staff (which includes school expert associates - pedagogues and psychologists, experts of education-rehabilitation profiles, librarians, principals etc.), followed by the teaching staff. 

A comprehensive overview of the actual situation in the provision of guidance in primary and secondary education was offered in 2014, when Euroguidance Croatia conducted a research on the existing capacities of primary and secondary schools to implement guidance. The results of the research serve as a good indicator of the actual situation in the provision of guidance in primary and secondary education, and were as such incorporated in the Strategy for Lifelong Career Guidance in the Republic of Croatia as one of the starting points for the definition of priorities and measures in the area of primary and secondary education.

The results of the research, elaborated through four types of capacities (institutional, implementing, professional and material) available to primary and secondary schools for guidance provision, indicated that there is room for improvement.

For example, the research shows that career guidance is one of the many activities that fall within the scope of activities of expert associates and is not implemented systematically in the same manner in all schools. When researching work methods used in schools, it was established that precedence is given to the group provision of information and counselling to pupils and parents regarding education opportunities. On the other hand, less attention is given to preparing pupils for job search, raising pupils' transversal and decision-making skills as well as their self-awareness.

Although a vast majority of schools implements career guidance of pupils in their two final years of compulsory education (grades 7 and 8), a need was recognised for introducing elements of career guidance in earlier stages of education, so that pupils are prepared for making career management decisions at later points of their lives.

In addition, a need was identified for investing in further and continued training of school expert associates in the area of guidance, but it also pointed to a limited offer of seminars and expert meetings that focus on career guidance within the system. Finally, the research noted the need for ensuring more funding for the purchase of career guidance tools (e.g. diagnostic tests) and for covering the expenses of associates’ education and professional development courses.

In the higher education system efforts are currently being made to establish new faculty and university-based career centres for students and further develop the existing ones, offering psychological guidance services for students, as well as information on job search and labour market trends, networking activities with the business sector and information on mobility.

In adult education guidance services are delivered in a number of adult education and training institutions, such as Public Open Universities, offering education programmes, vocational training and additional training programmes, elementary, high school and secondary school programmes.

Within the employment sector, guidance services are primarily offered by the national Public Employment Service and Centres for Information and Career Counselling (CISOK). Guidance services are offered through brochures, leaflets, online counselling and different types of group information activities and workshops, providing advice on seeking and creating professional opportunities and improving job-search techniques. Career guidance services for the unemployed and job seekers are provided by counsellors who specialise in career guidance, such as psychologists, pedagogues, and experts of education-rehabilitation profiles, who receive further training as career counsellors. Individual counselling services are offered to persons who need a more individual approach, such as persons with health or learning difficulties, and those at the risk of social exclusion.

TRAINING

Croatia does not currently provide initial education for career guidance counsellors in the system of higher education (such as specific career guidance study programmes), nor does it provide a single professional development programme on this subject. Guidance counsellors in the education and employment sector hold university degrees in relevant fields (psychology, social work, pedagogy, etc.) with additional professional training leading to a professional exam in lifelong career orientation (employment sector) or a professional exam in education (education sector).

In order to provide them with opportunities for further and continued professional development and training in guidance, Euroguidance Croatia has developed a professional development programme Guidance and Career Counselling Seminar, which has now been active for 5 years and has been attended by more than 450 school psychologists, pedagogues and teachers.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Research and development in the field of lifelong guidance is done by the following institutions:

Euroguidance Croatia has done various research activities in the field of guidance:

  1. Possibilities and Perspectives of Initial Education in Guidance in Croatia, 2013
  2. Research on the existing capacities of primary and secondary schools to implement career guidance, 2014 (incorporated in the national Strategy for Lifelong Career Guidance in the Republic of Croatia for the period 2016-2020)
  3. Guidance in Croatian Primary and Secondary Schools – Pupils' Perspective, 2017

The Croatian Employment Service (labour market data, labour market trends and forecasts) in the employment sector

The Agency for Science and Higher Education conducted a survey on the establishment of professional guidance services (career centres) for students and employees of higher education institutions, the types of services provided and their developmental needs

The Institute for Social Research in Zagreb conducts scientific research in the field of social structure and stratification, youth, space, education, science and technology, culture, religion, gender

 ETHICS

In its Strategy for Lifelong Career Guidance, the Lifelong Career Guidance Forum (including all its members) has outlined the following principles that underlie the establishment of lifelong guidance in Croatia:

  • Independence – Lifelong guidance providers respect the freedom of career choice and personal development of the citizen/user.
  • Impartiality – Lifelong guidance provided is in accordance with the citizen's interests only, is not influenced by provider, institutional and funding interests, and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, social status, qualifications, ability, disability etc.
  • Equal opportunities – Lifelong guidance enables and promotes equal opportunities for all citizens in education and work.
  • Availability – All citizens have a right to access lifelong guidance services at any point in their lives.
  • Accessibility – The guidance provided is accessible in a flexible and user-friendly ways such as face to face, telephone, e-mail, e-portals, in order to accommodate different citizens' needs.
  • Data protection – Citizens have a right to protection and privacy of personal information they provide in the guidance process. All personal data obtained during the provision of guidance are considered professional secret and are treated as such.

Last update by Euroguidance Croatia (May 2018)