GOAL closing conference Flanders

Educational guidance in Flanders: from practice to policy

On January 19 the Flemish GOAL project team welcomed around 90 participants for its national closing conference which took place at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. View the aftermovie of the event below. Pictures can be viewed in this photo album.

Read the full event report:

After participants were welcomed by the Department of Education and Training, the day started off with an introductory presentation by Erik Ballhausen (Erasmus+ Unit - Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)) and a presentation by Heiddi Knipprath (HIVA research institute for work and society - KU Leuven University) about the future labour market and its implications for lifelong learning strategies. 

Nadia Reynders (GOAL project coordinator both at Flemish and international project level) gave participants an introduction to the broader set-up of GOAL and the specifics of the policy experimentations in Flanders, before Kathleen Hoefnagels (former researcher at Tempera and lead researcher for the Flemish GOAL evaluation) presented the project results for Flanders. 

The afternoon started with two project GOAL counsellors sharing stories about the guidance pathways of project GOAL clients. Afterwards the conference switched from a project-oriented focus towards the policy level with the organisation of different panel discussions. A first panel with local programme partners (VDAB, IN-Gent) and local policy makers (Stad Gent, Provincie West-Vlaanderen) focused on the functioning of the service in practice. Panel members shedded light on the complementarity of the GOAL service with other (not education-oriented) guidance services and the successful referral system set-up with local partner organisations. Local policy makers shared their positive experiences with the service, stressing its value and positive local impact from a policy perspective and advocating the need for structural funding from the Flemish level.

In between the two panels, Liesbet Vermandere (policy advisor at the Department of Edcuation and Training and president of the GOAL Advisory Committee) presented the 'Blueprint for an educational guidance service in Flanders and Brussels', an advisory note developed within the GOAL Advisory Committee which lays down basic principles for the functioning and organisation of the service and offers the political level a strong baseline for future policy development in the area.

The presentation was followed by a second policy-oriented panel discussion with representatives from the Advisory Committee (Katholiek Onderwijs Vlaanderen, GO! onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, IN-Gent vzw/Agentschap Inburgering en Integratie) and other stakeholders from the domain of employment (Sterpunt Inclusief Ondernemen, SERV/ACV). Representatives from the educational sector called out to the Flemish government to invest structurally in the development of an educational guidance service, stressing the need for said service not only to reengage adults who have dropped out from the educational system but to open up all educational possibilities to each adult with learning needs.

Representatives from the employment sector equally spoke out their support for an educational guidance service as a complementary service to career guidance, emphasizing the importance of involving employers in the future development of the service and of making the service accessible in the workplace. The representative from the domain of integration called out for the deployment of the service throughout Flanders to support newcomers maximally in developing their full potential on an educational level. The guidance service would be a welcome support for counsellors from the Flemish integration sector, all the more so as the sector might be subject to higher pressure following the government's intentions to shrink its capacity.

Though Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister of Education, was unable to attend the conference in person, she spoke out in a message about the relevance of providing guidance to learners. Moreover, the Minister expressed appreciation for the work performed by the GOAL Advisory Committee across policy areas and informed that she would consult both the Education Council (VLOR) and the Social and Economic Council (SERV) to seek further advice regarding the organisation and set-up of educational guidance services.

One main message was echoed throughout the day both in the presentations as during the panel: in spite of an broad, flexible and affordable adult educational offer the field of adult education is too complex for many adult learners to find their way. Within this context, an educational guidance service would constitute the missing link for the Flemish adult education system to reach its full potential. Moreover, project GOAL demonstrated that the demand for the service exists not only in the educational field: where the GOAL services are implemented, partner organisations and local stakeholders are unanimously positive about its added value both to their organisation as to society at large.

The GOAL project team expresses its hopes that the results from project GOAL and the resulting blueprint for educational guidance will provide a significant contribution to future policy development and that development of the service will form an integral part of the Government Agreement of the next Flemish Government.

Read the Blueprint for educational guidance in Flanders and Brussels

Visit www.adulguidance.eu/flanders for the full evaluation results. Or move directly to the GOAL National Evaluation Report Flanders or the Flemish summary.