Lifelong guidance has been practiced in Estonia for years. Services have traditionally been provided for different target groups by several service providers and have also been known by different names. Today lifelong guidance comprises two areas: career services and educational counselling services for students with special educational needs (SEN).


Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 (LLL2020) addresses the most important challenges in the area of lifelong learning. The general goal of the Lifelong Learning Strategy is to provide all people in Estonia with learning opportunities tailored to their needs and capabilities throughout their whole lifespan. This enables them to maximize opportunities for dignified self-actualization within society, in their work as well as in their family life.

The overarching strategy includes lifelong guidance and stresses the most crucial issues, including access to guidance for all, quality of service provision and professional practitioners. The strategy sets five strategic goals of which two are closely tied to lifelong guidance.

  • Correspondence between opportunities for lifelong learning and the needs of the labour market – easy access to lifelong learning and high-quality career services contribute to increasing the level of qualifications of citizens of all age and their participation in lifelong learning across Estonia.
  • Equal opportunities for lifelong learning and growth of participation in learning - the Estonian state must ensure all people equal opportunities to get a quality education in accordance with their abilities.

According to the LLL2020, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Social Affairs are responsible for the development of lifelong guidance. The aim is to keep a comprehensive, sustainable and user-friendly guidance system in operation. It helps people to pursue further education, learn a new profession or implement changes in their professional life. The main institutions in the provision and development of lifelong guidance in education are schools and the Agency for Lifelong Guidance within Foundation Innove. In the employment sector guidance is provided by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (public employment service).


The national guidance system went through a major change in 2019. Service provision, both in the education and labour sector, has been reorganised.

In autumn 2014 the Foundation Innove set up public centres called Rajaleidja (Pathfinder in English). The network is managed by Innove. These centres are located in every county and under unified quality assurance system provide support for young people in their studies. Services provided by the centres:

  • Socio-pedagogical counselling
  • Special educational counselling
  • Psychological counselling
  • Speech therapy

Foundation Innove also supports teachers and schools when implementing career education as aprat of the curriculum.

The strategy in the employment sector foresees the provision of career information and counselling to all. Until the end of 2014 the career guidance was provided only to the unemployed. Since 2015, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Estonian public employment service / PES) has expanded service provision to all.

For more information please see  the publication on Lifelong Guidance in Estonia (2018). It was published by the Estonian Euroguidance Centre administered by the Foundation Innove. Since January 1st 2019 the national Euroguidance centre was moved to the national Erasmus+ agency, i.e. Archimedes Foundation.


In Estonia, there is no academic training available for career professionals. Most of professionals have a higher education degree in social sciences.

The occupational qualifications system connects the labour market and the lifelong learning system by enhancing the development, assessment and recognition of a person’s occupational competence. The system is developed and administered by the Estonian Qualifications Authority. According to the Occupational Qualifications Act, the Estonian Qualification Framework has eight levels (level one being the lowest and level eight the highest). The descriptions of the qualification levels are identical with the European Qualifications Framework.

The occupational qualification standard describes occupational activities and provides the competency requirements for occupational qualifications and their levels. Part A of the standard provides an overview of the nature of work, major parts of work and tasks, necessary tools, work environment, including the specificities of work and describes the personal characteristics and skills enhancing occupational activities. This is a source of information for a person upon selection of an occupation and shaping his or her career path. This also contains useful information for career guidance professionals, labour market consultants, human resources managers and trainers.

The competence requirements presented in part B of the standard serve as a basis for the assessment of the applicant for the occupational qualification. These requirements are presented as descriptions of mandatory and optional competences. Competence is an ability to perform a specific part of work or a task together with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for that. Proceeding from the nature of the occupation, its specificity and traditions, attesting competences related to a specialization or optional competences may be the prerequisite for being awarded the occupational qualification.

In the field of lifelong guidance there are occupational qualification standards available for five specialist groups, including career specialist (level 6 and 7), social pedagogue (level 6 and 7), special education teacher (level 7 and 8), speech therapist (level 7 and 8) and psychologist (level 7 and 8). Mostly professional associations have the role of the awarding body - awarding occupational qualifications in the given field. See more here. For example, Estonian Association of Career Counsellors is a certified organisation for awarding and recertifying occupational qualifications of career specialists.


Guidance research in Estonia is procurement based i.e. there is no sustainable funding allocated for any national research units and there are several organisations including universities and private companies, which have experience in the field.

In 2006 and 2011, two major national studies were undertaken by the Foundation Innove to build an evidence-base for career guidance. The aim of the study was to evaluate the citizens’ awareness of career services and their career planning skills, analyse the availability of career services and cooperation between different stakeholders at providing career services in Estonia.

In 2017, the Foundation Innove as the Estonian Euroguidance Centre cooperated with the University of Jyväskylä in Finland to carry out a mapping survey on how ICT is used in guidance across Europe. This mapping exercise generated valuable country-specific evidence for the Estonian EU Presidency conference on lifelong guidance policy and practice held in Tallinn in September 2017. There current challenges and potential strategies were debated by more than 30 European countries. The summary of the mapping survey and other conference materials are available at www.innove.ee/guidanceweek2017.


In May 2014 the Estonian Association of Career Counsellors published the Code of Ethics for Career Guidance (available in Estonian).

Last update by ©Euroguidance Estonia (January 2019)