The main aim of all guidance and counselling in Finland is to support individuals in making educational choices and managing their careers based on the principle of lifelong learning. Everybody in Finland is entitled to guidance and counselling services regardless of whether they are studying, working, unemployed or outside of the labour market.

The public education and employment authorities and education providers, normally municipalities, are the main actors responsible for guidance and counselling services. Their functions and goals are mutually complementary. Education and training institutions bear the main responsibility for guidance and counselling of pupils and students, whereas the Employment and Economic Development Offices are primarily intended for those outside education and training. The youth sector is involved in offering information, guidance, and counselling to young people. These services are provided by municipalities and various organisations.  There are almost 70 One-Stop Guidance Centers across Finland providing information and guidance fast and based on need for persons under 30 years of age.


In Finland, there is a strong legal basis for guidance service provision across all levels of education and training from general to higher education and for the services to be provided by the employment administration such as vocational guidance and career planning. Also, the youth information and guidance services offered by municipalities are stipulated by legislation.

Finland has consistently worked towards creating a coherent and holistic lifelong guidance system that is easily accessible for all individuals at a time, place, and method most appropriate to their needs. This has been done in close cooperation and in mutual understanding between the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and other key stakeholders. They are represented in the National Lifelong Guidance Forum (2020-2023) that is set up to discuss the overall development and implementation of guidance strategies and measures. The national cross-sectoral policy development is complemented by 15 regional lifelong guidance working groups.  

The Strategy for Lifelong Guidance (2020-2023) drawn up by the Lifelong Guidance Forum and its Secretariat presents strategic objectives for the development of guidance and recommends measures extending to 2023. The Strategy is linked to the priorities of the current government programme priorities in education, youth, employment, and social policies, where lifelong guidance is examined as a continuum covering the whole lifespan. It is seen as a dialogue between individuals and their own career management skills, together with information, advice and guidance that support the acquisition of these skills. Measures will be taken to widen access to guidance, to strengthen lifelong career management skills and to enhance skills assessment, upskilling and career development in working life.

The strategic objectives cover the themes within guidance services: it should be evidence-based, accessible and customer-oriented, equal and sustainable, digital, high-quality, cross-sectoral and coordinated. The long-term objective is that guidance advocates an equal, fair, and diverse society in Finland.

Strategy for Lifelong Guidance 2020-2023


The pupils and students have a legal right for guidance and counselling services at educational institutions with a specified time allocation. These services mostly consist of individual, group or class-based guidance sessions as well as of working life familiarization. Services are provided by a wide range of personnel depending on the level and type of education and training.

In the comprehensive or basic education there are school counsellors and class teachers. At the general upper secondary level guidance counsellors, group advisors and teachers are responsible for offering guidance and counselling according to their professional roles and tasks. School counsellors and teachers provide guidance in vocational education and training in upper secondary level and career counsellors and group advisors do that in adult education. The goals of the services are defined in the national core curricula. In higher education guidance counsellors in universities of applied sciences, student services staff, academic staff, careers, and recruitment services in universities are involved in guidance delivery.

Lifelong guidance in Finland (EDUFI)

Guidance and counselling in public employment services are offered by vocational guidance psychologists at vocational guidance and career planning services and by other experts according to their job profiles. The services provided by the employment sector are targeted mostly at unemployed and employed young people and adults, who are outside of education and training. The main aim is to support access and integration to the labour market by means of various forms of support that enhance the individual’s employability. This can be training, work try-outs, rehabilitation, language learning for migrants, and beyond.

Youth information and counselling is preventive youth work. It is one of the statutory services for young people, and its objective is to provide specialised information, guidance and counselling concerning different issues and situations in young people’s lives. Youth information and counselling work supports young people’s growth, independence and well-being. The basis for the services is the information and support needs of young people. Services are provided by municipalities and various organisations. They are directed at young people themselves, but also at young people’s parents and others who are professionally or otherwise involved with young people.

Koordinaatti – Youth information and counselling services

The One-Stop Guidance Centers are offering assistance with various issues related to your own life, such as studying, finding employment, housing, and welfare. A One-Stop Guidance Center will not directly provide an apartment or social assistance, for example, but you will be provided plenty of information and support for applying for these things. The services are tailored according to the needs of the clients and the aim is to assist and support the young person until a more long-lasting or permanent solution has been found. The information and counselling services are multi-channel, you can access them for example face to face, online or by phone. The services provided by the One-Stop Guidance Centers and the professionals who work in the centers vary slightly between localities. One-Stop Guidance Centers welcome persons under the age of 30 with all possible issues.

One-stop Guidance Centers


Finland has a strongly professionalized system of guidance certified to international standards. The qualifications of the career practitioners in comprehensive and secondary level education as well as of the vocational psychologists are defined in legislation. The qualification requirements for counsellors working in higher education are not laid down by law.

Beyond the required qualification for teachers (a Master’s degree or a special qualification for vocational-school teachers), all school and guidance counsellors must have a certificate of completion of specialist training in guidance and counselling or a Master’s degree in guidance.

Most of the career guidance practitioners in Finland have obtained their certificate within a work-based program (60 ECTS) in one of the training units: University of Eastern Finland, University of Jyväskylä, or Universities of Applied Sciences: HAAGA-HELIA, HAMK, JAMK, OAMK or TAMK. All these programs use a blended learning approach and many of the students have previous experience of guidance and counselling.

There are also two Master degree programs available. The University of Eastern Finland provides a Master degree where the students can have their major in either education, educational sociology or in adult education. The pedagogical studies required for qualification as a teacher are also included in the training program. University of Jyväskylä is providing a two-year Master program in guidance for those who already have a Bachelor degree in Education.

A prerequisite for a vocational guidance psychologist in the public employment services in Finland is a Master’s degree in Psychology. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment organizes in-service training for all labour administration staff. Many vocational psychologists also pursue postgraduate studies in working life and organizational psychology. As for the other professional groups working on information-advice-and-guidance related duties at the employment and economic offices, no official qualifications prescribed by law are required. Nevertheless, almost all professionals in these groups have a vocational qualification or a university degree.

There is a shift in the guidance counsellor training units to more competence-based curricula. The training units cooperate in curriculum development and the following processes are embedded in all training programs: awareness of the society, educational system and the labor market; life span in societal and cultural contexts, theories in education, educational psychology, sociology and philosophy; theories in counselling; research in the field of counselling, promoting practice and research; counselling in practice, meeting the clients; the work of a teacher; cross-sectoral networks in guidance and counselling.


The guidance counsellor training units in universities and universities of applied sciences continuously conduct academic and applied research to address new phenomena and themes in the field of lifelong guidance in Finland. Many of these actors collaborate with universities and research institutes in other countries in international research and development projects.

Guidance and counselling are studied in Finland in several disciplines, such as education, sociology, psychology, and educational psychology. One of the current goals is to develop forums and approaches that enable integration of research and findings in different disciplines.

Research topics range from studies on individual experiences and life courses and educational paths to detailed analyses of interaction and societal structures and their reproduction and/or change in practices of guidance and counselling. Also, possibilities and problems in digitalization and green and just transition have received increasing attention in research.

Network for Guidance and counselling research in Finland, a special interest group under Finnish Association for Educational Research (FERA) strives to develop multidisciplinary discussion on guidance and counselling related research. The network also strives to build collaboration with researchers and research institutes in Europe and elsewhere.


The Finnish Association of Guidance Counsellors (SOPO in Finnish) is a pedagogical association under the Trade Union of Education in Finland. SOPO has released ethical guidelines for correct professional conduct among guidance counsellors working in the educational sector in 2009, updated in 2021. Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance counsellor training, too.

The Finnish Psychological Association has its own ethical guidelines for psychologists. They guide the work of vocational guidance psychologists who are employed by the Finnish public employment services. Moreover, the national legislation, governmental decisions and guidelines apply to the work of psychologists.

Guidance Counsellors’ Ethical Guidelines

CEDEFOP Country report of Lifelong Guidance Systems and Practices in Finland (2021)


Last updated at: August 2022