OVERVIEW

Guidance in Latvia is shared between the Education and Labour sectors. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science, schools have the main responsibility for student career guidance. Employment offices, operating under the supervision of Ministry of Welfare, provide career guidance for the labour market.

From primary through upper-secondary education both general and vocational schools provide careers education. National education standards determine that one of the main goals of education is to prepare students to make a conscious career choice. Career management skills are integrated into subject standards as learning outcomes.

Higher education institutions are autonomous by law and can determine what student services they provide.

In the labour sector the State Employment Agency (SEA) provides the full spectrum of career guidance services for jobseekers, the employed and persons in education or planning to return to education who require information or psychological support to achieve their career goals.

POLICY

On 29 March 2006 the Cabinet of Ministers approved the White Paper “Improvement of the Career Development Support System”, providing that the career development support system (CDSS) consists of the three following basic elements:

  • information,
  • career education,
  • career counselling.

The responsibility for the implementation of the CDSS is shared by the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Science. Both authorities are the key institutions that monitor the career guidance system in Latvia and guidance services provided in education institutions and employment offices.

The Ministry of Welfare focuses a large share of attention on training measures for the improvement of skills of unemployed persons, job seekers and also employed persons (within the context of life-long learning).  Within the framework of active labour market policy measures, the training, re-qualification and up-skilling of unemployed persons and job seekers organised by the State Employment Agency subordinated to the Ministry of Welfare, is among the most important lines of action. The State Employment Agency is in charge of implementing career guidance policy by providing services in the labour sector. Its responsibilities include developing guidance tools and methods and training counsellors in their use, as well as monitoring the quality of guidance services provided.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for the development and implementation of national education policy and coordinates the implementation of career education within the education sector as a whole. The State Education Development Agency subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Science is the main insitution developing recommendations and tools for improving guidance in schools, including on-line information on education opportunities and the world of work, and career self-assessment tests. The Agency hosts the Latvian Euroguidance centre which provides information and training on guidance policy and practice in Europe and promotes mobility through  information on learning and mobility opportunities in Europe. As the coordinating partner for Latvia in the European Life-long Career Development Policy network (ELGPN), the Agency continues to promote the information and research developed within the ELGPN project.

Cooperation Council of the Career Development Support System operates as an inter-branch information exchange and advisory institution, in order to:

develop and promote the career development support services and improve their quality;
promote the selection of the further education or the direction of the professional career development suitable for the abilities, interests and age of each individual.

SERVICES AND PRACTICE

Careers education at schools is integrated into subject lessons and class lessons and can be a topic for project week activities and field trips. Teachers can freely organize their lessons and choose methods as long as curriculum objectives are achieved. Careers education has been developed with the support of ESF National projects.  Within the projects books, infographics, online tools, games and other resources have been developed to facilitate career education and to supply subject teachers and career counsellors with relevant literature, methodologies and in-service training. The current (2016-2020) ESF project also funds salaries of school career counsellors and career learning activities in project schools. Schools outside the ESF project are allowed to fund the salary of a school guidance counsellor from the national education subsidy. Whether schools choose to do this depends on their budget which is linked to the number of enrolled pupils, as well as on local priorities.

Higher education institutions in Latvia offer information about available study programmes and about requirements to enroll in the programmes. Many higher education institutions organize job fairs, CV writing workshops, information seminars and/or have developed online job ad boards and careers tests. Some universities provide individual counselling which may be available also for potential students and alumni.

In the labour sector the State Employment Agency (SEA) through its network of regional offices provides career information, advice and counselling free of charge to persons from the age of 15 (the legal employment age in Latvia). The target groups are jobseekers, the employed and persons in education or planning to return to education. Unemployed persons and job-seekers registered with the State Employment Agency can choose group or individual career and/or psychological counselling, career guidance, identification of suitable employment goals, job search information and assistance, retraining and work trials. Individuals are offered interest, aptitude, personality and psychometric testing, health profiling, role play, coaching and information provision. Group activities involve consultations, seminars and lectures on career management issues, career motivation tests and interpersonal communication training. State Employment Agency internet services include online career interest tests, information on careers and training opportunities, storage of CV and motivation letters, as well as responses to user questions by career guidance and/or psychological counsellors. The Career Development Support Unit of the State Employment Agency develops tools and methods, including information resources, tests, questionnaires, inventories and other materials for the State Employment Agency career counsellors.

Careers guidance for adults is partly covered by State Employment Agency’s services. The State Education Development Agency has developed a specific database with learning opportunities for adults. Also private organizations may provide services, for example, coaching sessions, job search service. Private services in most situations are not free of charge.

The State Education Development Agency also manages a project for preventive youth work. Activities in the project provides youth guidance information and counselling.

TRAINING

The first occupational standard for Career Counsellors was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in  2007 and later updated in 2011. The original standard was developed through a national project funded by the European Social Fund and formed the basis for a master’s degree programme for training counsellors also developed within the framework of the project. Persons with a bachelor’s degree in education or psychology or in a different field, but having at least two years of relevant work experience are eligible to enroll in the programme.

The programme provides the skills, knowledge, professional values and personal awareness required to serve young people, adults and people with disabilities and learning difficulties in a wide range of work settings: education institutions, employment agencies, guidance centres and companies, as well as to pursue research. The programme’s modules: Career theories, Social environment and labour market, Methodology of professional activities and Research each include theory and practice in counselling methods. The entire programme requires completion of 120 ECTS points. Full-time studies take two years; part-time studies take two-and-a-half years. Graduates are awarded a degree of Master in Education and the professional qualification of Guidance Counsellor. Some universities offer an additional qualification of Youth Worker or Mentor.

Currently persons employed as career counsellors in primary and secondary educational institutions are required to have a background in education with either a Master’s degree in Career counselling or appropriate in-service training. The State Employment Agency prioritizes a background in psychology when hiring counsellors.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT WORK

Research on career guidance issues is carried out mainly within the framework of Master’s degree studies in Career Counselling. As there is no PhD programme specifically devoted to career guidance in Latvia, doctoral level research has been undertaken within the Education Management, Public Administration and Economics fields.

ETHICS

The Code of professional ethics for Latvian career counsellors has been adopted by the Latvian Career Development Support Association (LKAAA) in 2011. The Master’s degree programme in Career Counselling includes a separate subject specifically in ethics where the Code is also highlighted.

 

 

Last update by ©Euroguidance Latvia (April 2018)