General situation in Latvia among the career guidance specialists

One of the MOTIV-ACTION project’s partners is the Latvian Career Development Support Association (LKAAA), which consists of more than 100 individual and corporate members from various state, municipal and private sector representatives and organizations. LKAAA members include education and career support specialists, psychologists, art therapists, social workers, specialists of children and youth centres and many other representatives who dedicate their daily work to identifying and choosing a career path for various target groups: children, youth, students, adults, incl. unemployed and jobseekers and people with disabilities.

LKAAA goals are to promote public awareness about the importance of guidance services to strengthening the economy, social cohesion and personal development; promote cooperation among guidance practitioners working in the education, youth and employment sectors, in Latvia and in other countries; unite individuals and organisations within the Latvian career guidance system, as well as other stakeholders interested in the quality and development of career guidance in Latvia.

Certainly year 2020 worked as a driving force to create, transform and adapt more and more different tools in a digital way. At this moment it is possible to surely state that the amount of available digital tools in career counselling has increased for several times compared to the period before the pandemic. At the same time not each digitized tool is as effective as it was “on paper” or same easy to use.

In order to identify and summarize the general situation in Latvia, a survey was sent out among all LKAAA members to assess the availability and practical use of digital tools in career counselling, as well as to find out the opinion and attitude of specialists towards various digital solutions and their usefulness.

62% of all respondents said that they can ensure quality and full-fledged career guidance using different digital solutions that are available in Latvia. 35% answered that they can do it partly. And 3% of respondents answered that they can’t ensure quality work with clients while providing consultations online and using digital tools. Respondents were asked to rate the accessibility of digital tools in Latvia (from 1 to 7, where “1” means that there is almost zero of accessible useful tools and “7” means that there is enough of tools to use to provide career support):

Most respondents noted that for them using tools such as Zoom, MS Teams, WhatsApp and other tools for video conferences is enough to provide a “necessary minimum” of career support such as consultations. And at the same time there is a gap in availability of different tools that can be used in the evaluation and assessment process. Career counsellors either don’t have free tools or tools paid by their employers, or don’t have enough knowledge where to find the right tools or they have low computer and Internet using skills.

In the survey career guidance specialists were asked to highlight the main difficulties and weaknesses. All answers can be summarised in several scopes:

  • Inability to switch the focus on the remote and distanced work and difficulties to replace tools for in-person work to the ones that will be suitable in online consultation;
  • The lack of knowledge on how and where to find necessary tools that will be appropriate in different situations and not having enough digital skills;
  • Difficulties “to read” clearly client’s emotional condition during remote consultations and the lack of feedback and will to have an online consultation from clients’ side;
  • Absence of one concrete place (platform) where would be summarised all available tools according to the different needs and situations with brief description or instruction how to use those tools;
  • The lack of technical solutions (computer, smartphone, tablet and Internet) in the countryside. Possible technical issues during the work with client, like bad Internet connection.

Therefore, there are also some suggestions and ideas from the career guidance specialists on how to improve the digital career support:

  • Create a united platform or catalogue with different tools available to use in different situations according to different needs;
  • Organise different seminars, working and/or brainstorming groups to learn from each other, share experience and ideas between specialists;
  • Digitalize different tools for evaluation, assessment that would be useful in career guidance, like tests, associative cards, professions’ cards etc.;
  • Improve the understanding and skills on how to organise online work for career specialists;
  • United platform for career support specialists and clients with possibilities to fill different tests and tools by clients themselves and to connect with specialists, to meet each other in working groups;
  • Create a platform with a digital portfolio for clients.