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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Guidance and counselling in a lifelong learning approach


12.Educational support and guidance

12.8Guidance and counselling in a lifelong learning approach

Last update: 29 February 2024

Academic guidance

Adults, including adults with disabilities, may acquire and broaden their knowledge and skills and obtain and upgrade vocational / professional qualifications in lifelong learning. They can do so in public and non-public schools for adults and in non-school settings.

Entities offering continuing education courses in non-school settings are required to provide organisational and technical conditions for people with disabilities to participate in education.

(Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science of 6 October 2023 on continuing education in non-school settings). /  Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji i Nauki z dnia 6 października 2023 r. w sprawie kształcenia ustawicznego w formach pozaszkolnych)

Adults can obtain information on education and training opportunities from:

  • the Voluntary Labour Corps;

  • employment agencies;

  • higher education institutions;

  • associations, foundations, civic and professional organisations, and other organisations whose statutory aims include such services.

The Integrated Qualifications System, established in 2015, provides for the validation of knowledge and skills acquired through any form of:

  • non-formal learning (courses and other organised training activities);

  • informal learning.

The validation of learning outcomes, which leads to formal recognition of knowledge and skills, enables equalising opportunities for the acquisition and recognition of qualifications.

Each of the qualifications in the Integrated Qualifications System is described in detail in terms of the skills required to obtain it, its functions and labour market demand. Thus, people who seek validation can assess their competitiveness on the labour market at the moment of obtaining a given qualification.

(Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System (as subsequently amended) / Ustawa z dnia 22 grudnia 2015 r. o zintegrowanym systemie kwalifikacji)

Psychological counselling

Learners in public schools for adults, continuing education centres, practical training centres and retraining and in-service training centres may benefit from counselling services offered by psychologists as part psychological and educational support.

Such services are also provided by non-governmental organisations using central and local government and European Union funds.

Career guidance

Pursuant to the Resolution of the Council of the European Union on lifelong guidance, lifelong career guidance refers to services and activities which aim to assist in making educational and occupational choices and managing careers, and which are offered to persons of any age and at any stage of life.

Such services are offered by:

  • schools, including schools for adults;

  • higher education institutions;

  • training institutions;

  • public employment agencies: 

    • career information and planning centres at regional labour offices,

    • district labour offices;

  • employers;

  • non-governmental organisations;

  • private entities.

As part of psychological and educational support provided by their school, learners in public schools for adults can take education and career planning classes, participate in counselling and guidance sessions, and attend career guidance workshops and courses.

Career guidance and information services are also provided by vocational training and continuing education centres, in collaboration with employers and employers’ organisations. Centres also offer vocational qualification courses, and conduct various activities in the area of career guidance and information activities.

Career guidance is provided:

  • to individuals and groups;

  • in direct contact with service users or in a remote mode (for example, online courses and classes, help lines, online services, telephone calls or through an online instant messenger).

The services include:

  • help in finding a job;

  • organisation of, or help in undertaking, internships, practical placements or voluntary service;

  • access to up-to-date information about occupations and opportunities to improve or acquire knowledge and vocational skills;

  • help in developing clients’ self-knowledge and knowledge about their capacities and expectations, and in boosting their self-esteem and motivation;

  • development of skills needed for planning education and career paths, job seeking and preparing for a job interview;

  • development of soft skills, including effective communication and negotiation skills, and self-assertiveness;

  • support in entering the labour market, including the transition from school, and adaptation to the work environment.

Adults, including adults with disabilities, may attend public and non-public schools for adults and acquire and improve their knowledge, skills and vocational qualifications in non-school settings.

As part of psychological and educational support provided by their school, learners in public schools for adults may take education and career planning courses / classes. They may also participate in counselling and guidance sessions, and workshops and training on career guidance.

Career guidance and information services are also provided by vocational training and continuing education centres, in collaboration with employers and employers’ organisations. Centres also provide vocational qualification courses.

Bodies administering public retraining and in-service training centres can agree to appoint one of the centres to coordinate theoretical training for juvenile workers in their province(s), following consultation with the body or bodies responsible for pedagogical supervision over the centres. Such coordinating centres additionally gather, analyse and disseminate information about training needs of juvenile workers and the scope of theoretical training provided to them by public centres in the province(s).

Public continuing education centres, practical training centres and retraining and in-service training centres collaborate with:

  • employers in: 

    • organising and providing continuing education;

    • developing education and training offers for non-school settings in line with employers’ expectations;

    • continuing education of employees;

  • labour offices which are involved in the training of people registered there;

  • other entities providing continuing education as part of their statutory tasks.

Employment support programmes for people with disabilities are carried out by the National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People (Państwowy Fundusz Rehabilitacji Osób Niepełnosprawnych, PFRON).

To gain sufficient independence in the work environment, school leavers or graduates who need support to start their internship or who are already employed may apply - independently or via their statutory representative - for additional permanent or temporary assistance from a careers adviser working in a district labour office.

The district labour office defines additional responsibilities of a careers adviser in writing, in consultation with the persons with a disability or their statutory representative.

Such additional responsibilities include, in particular, active cooperation with employers during an internship, and support offered to people undertaking an internship to:

  • adapt to the new environment;

  • understand fully an employer’s requirements;

  • gain co-workers’ acceptance;

  • cope with emergency / crisis situations.

Unemployed people and job seekers (including persons with disabilities) registered with a district labour office may be offered:

  • career guidance;

  • a grant for people taking up study;

  • training courses (in non-school settings), organised for learners who wish to acquire, develop or improve general or vocational knowledge and skills, which are necessary for employment, including job seeking skills;

  • internships which are aimed at developing practical skills through the performance of tasks at a workplace on a non-contractual basis;

  • vocational training at the workplace where learners can acquire new vocational qualifications or skills by performing tasks specific to a job, in accordance with a programme agreed between the head of the relevant local government body, the employer and the unemployed person or unemployed job seeker.

Career guidance involves:

  • individual guidance to facilitate the choice of an occupation, change of qualifications or taking up or leaving a job;

  • psychological tests and specialist medical examination for employment purposes (certificates of fitness for work);

  • group guidance facilitating self-assessment and developing skills useful in job search and career development;

  • career-related information on occupations, labour market, and education and training opportunities.

Grants for learners (grants for persons enrolling on an education programme) are available to unemployed people who have no vocational qualifications confirmed by a diploma, school leaving certificate, certificate awarded by a training institution or another document certifying that they hold qualifications to practise an occupation. A grant is awarded on condition that within 12 months of the date of registration with a district labour office, they were enrolled on a programme in:

  • a post-primary school for adults (a public or non-public school) or

  • a higher education institution, if they follow a part-time programme.

A grant may be awarded to an unemployed person if the per-capita income in his / her family (within the meaning of the welfare legislation) does not exceed a threshold set for means-tested welfare benefits.

Where beneficiaries continue education, the grant is paid until the completion of a programme as provided for in the curriculum. Grant entitlement expires when a learner drops out of a programme.

Information and Career Planning Centres (ICPCs) are specialised institutions operating within regional (province-level) labour offices, which collect and disseminate information about jobs, labour market and opportunities for gaining vocational qualifications, and support their clients in making career choices.

ICPCs help:

  • unemployed people,

  • job seekers,

  • school leavers,

  • young people in schools,

  • employers.

As part of guidance, ICPCs offer support, for example, in:

  • choosing or changing a career;

  • career planning;

  • gaining higher qualifications;

  • assessing one’s own competencies and interests;

  • career development planning.

(Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 14 May 2014 on the detailed conditions, procedures and methods for providing labour market services) / Rozporządzenie Ministra Pracy i Polityki Społecznej z dnia 14 maja 2014 r. w sprawie szczegółowych warunków realizacji oraz trybu i sposobów prowadzenia usług rynku pracy)

ICPCs provide information or guidelines on:

  • writing CVs, covering letters and replies to advertisements in magazines;

  • preparation for a job interview;

  • most suitable paths for retraining and further training;

  • effective methods of job seeking;

  • basic issues concerning the establishment of a business;

  • specific job profiles for various occupations;

  • job opportunities in the country and abroad;

  • current labour market situation.

ICPCs also offer free access to information about schools, higher education institutions and training institutions, and journals, leaflets, CV and covering letter templates, films and portfolios on individual occupations, and computer applications with information about occupations and training institutions.

As one of the types of services offered, ICPCs organise workshops for all those who wish to take up or change their job but encounter obstacles which are difficult to overcome.

Workshop participants can develop job seeking skills such as self-presentation and non-verbal communication, building self-esteem and stress management skills, and creative thinking, which help to break routine and habits in everyday activities.

Classes enable participants to learn techniques which make their job seeking efforts more effective. They also enable them to better prepare for a job interview.

As a very important element of their activities, ICPCs collect job offers:

  • through direct links with employers;

  • from the press;

  • from the Internet.

The following services are available to job seekers:

  • registration in the database based on a completed Job Seeker Sheet;

  • facilitating contacts with employers;

  • support in a preliminary qualification assessment.

ICPCs employ careers and education advisers. The tasks of their staff also include job recruitment for individual positions. They work together with careers advisers, for example, to support individuals facing group lay-offs.

People interested in a specific job offer are selected according to the requirements of the employer. At an employer’s request, ICPC careers advisers assess candidates’ suitability and fitness for a given job. Employers may register vacancies by filling in a special form.

ICPCs cooperate with institutions and social partners that promote pro-employment policies and mitigate the consequences of unemployment; for example:

  • employers’ organisations;

  • heads of the regional education authorities;

  • student organisations;

  • welfare centres;

  • non-governmental organisations;

  • healthcare institutions; for example, those treating addictions;

  • the media.

ICPCs offer all of their services on a fee-free basis.

Careers advisers working in labour offices are required to have a higher education qualification, preferably in related fields of study such as psychology, education or sociology.

Careers advisers employed in district labour offices have the following assets at their disposal:

  • career-related information;

  • software such as Adviser 2000 (Doradca 2000), which gives quick and easy access to a wide range of career-related information, supports individual client assessment and helps clients to develop job market skills.

The basic method used by the labour offices is a career advice interview, during which careers advisers assess the situation of individual clients, their expectations, interests, and their work-related skills and aptitudes. At the end of the interview, an individual action plan is developed, and then it is implemented by the client.

To identify a client’s interests, careers advisers use a Self-Assessment Kit and Holland’s Vocational Preference Inventory Questionnaire. The Self-Assessment Kit is a self-test which helps to identify occupations matching the client’s interests and abilities.

Trained advisers can provide group guidance using two methods: the Educational Method and Inspiration Courses. The Educational Method is centred on the individual and motivates them to take responsibility for their choices. An adviser accompanies an unemployed person in their search, helps them to set priorities and make career choices. This approach stimulates clients by building inner motivation for acting on their own on the job market. Inspiration Courses are targeted primarily at long-term unemployed people or those at risk of unemployment. The aim of such a course is to encourage participants to actively seek employment.

On their premises, district and regional labour offices (information and career planning centres) have career information resources which are available to, and can be independently used by, anyone who is interested.

Career-related information is available in paper, audio-visual or electronic formats, including the websites of district and regional labour offices.

People who wish to acquire new or additional vocational or professional knowledge, skills or qualifications, change their qualifications and seek career advice will be able to receive support from the Sectoral Skills Centres.