Lifelong guidance has been practiced in Estonia for years. Services have been provided for different target groups by different service providers and have also been known by different names – the latest version being karjääriteenused (direct translation in English career services). Content-wise, both lifelong guidance and career guidance are used meaning “A range of activities that enable citizens of any age, and at any point in their lives, to identify their capacities, competences and interests; to make meaningful educational, training and occupational decisions; and to manage their individual life paths in learning, work and other settings in which these capacities and competences are learned and/or used” as agreed by the ELGPN members in 2013[1].

[1] Lifelong Guidance Policy Development: Glossary (ELGPN, 2013)


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).


Career guidance, standing in three pillars – career education, career counselling and career information provision, is provided by both education and employment systems. Career education is integrated in curricula at different education levels and has a long tradition. However, career information provision and career counselling outside school has been organised differently over the years and been often influenced by resources available.

Foundation Innove established its regional Rajaleidja centres (Pathfinder centre in English) in 2014 at the service of young people (age 7 – 26) and focusing on the needs of pupils in lower- and upper secondary education (age 15 – 19). Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (Eesti Töötukassa, the public employment service – PES) supported unemployed, inactive and employed people. In addition, as part of Youth Guarantee there was an extra initiative to support young people while entering the labour market and coping there and to bring those not in education or at work (NEETs) back to education.

It was recognized that the previous system with overlapping target groups caused replication of services and therefore inefficient use of human and financial resources. Starting from 2019 career information and career counselling services are offered by and developed in the PES. In practical terms, it means that the career guidance personnel from Rajaleidja centres were transferred to PES. In line with making the most efficient use of the resources, the reform also aims at joining together expert knowledge about labour market and education.

For more information please see  the publication on Lifelong Guidance in Estonia 2020. It was published by the Estonian Euroguidance Centre administered by the Archimedes Foundation.


In Estonia, there is no academic training available for career guidance 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, the occupational qualification standards are available on two levels, including career specialist on EQF level 6 and 7. The current standards were defined and the requirements on knowledge, skills, experience, values and personal characteristics necessary for the career specialists were established in close co-operation with the main stakeholders in the field in 2017.

The main tasks defined in the standards are:

  • individual and group career counselling;
  • information provision of education, labour market and professions for groups and individuals;
  • networking and cooperation with other service providers;
  • service development;
  • informing the public about the services;
  • training and mentoring of other guidance professionals (only on level 7).

The Association of Estonian Career Counsellors is the authorised organisation for accreditation. The accreditation of occupational qualifications is highly valued by the public employment service as the biggest employer in the field. Thus, these have been incorporated into the requirements in job descriptions and pay extra for the qualified specialists. The costs of acquiring the qualification, if completed successfully, are covered by the employer. Guidance professionals working in the private sector can benefit from the professional qualification while applying for participating in different field-related projects and programmes.



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

Last updated at: June 2020