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Lifelong learning calls for lifelong guidance and counselling


Julkaistu : 07.11.2019

Instead of lifelong career we can nowadays talk about life’s work. Career has become a flexible and protean professional developing process (protean career), that is based on continuous learning. Protean career is an opposite for a traditional vertical career model. This new understanding of career underlies horizontal growth, which typically requires wide range of competences and interaction with other people.

A person’s identity does not only consist of his/her career achievements but also of ‘private life  achievements’  as a spouse, parent and member of the community. The development of identity requires also that the person reflects his/her life and duties. Everyone promotes his/her own career his/herself, it does not anymore automatically go up the ladders of the organization. Protean career also broadens the timeline of the career. Instead of the traditional career the protean career contains also some ups and downs of the personal life.  (Hall and Mirvis 1996, 15–45; Wrobel et al. 2003; Takanen-Körperich 2008, 90.)

In future, the question is whether the difference between successful performance in school and successful performance in business life can be discerned in time. Kupferberg (2003) emphasizes that creativity is more meaningful than competences. He also states that education and training are going to meet new challenges, which are more than plain competences. Insight is an integral element of competence, bringing into play such characteristics as willpower, intuitive thinking, spirit and communication skills that impact on ability to manage practical problem solving situations. The ability to learn from experience is valued and taken as part of the broader learning process. (Munch and Jakobsen 2005.) The focus in valuating learning results in future will be on individuality and fragmentation, the vision being an unlimited range of patchwork profiles that discard the holistic concept of competence. The primary concern in the world of work will be on broad-based education linked to a personality that exhibits strength, individual initiative, independence and the ability to reach analytically justified decisions. (Drexel 2003.) As in our society the vision of the future of the young people does not anymore follow the normative life or career stages, also the practices of counseling cannot be based on the normality criterions. This change also sets some epistemological and communicational challenges for counselling. (Juutilainen, 2003, 18.)

Lifelong learning has become increasingly important as society and work life is changing and evolving. Guidance related to lifelong learning helps individuals to identify their abilities, competence and interests in the different stages of their life. Guidance also supports them in making decisions on their education and career and in managing their life path. According to European Commission (CEDEFOB 2008, 5) lifelong learning (LLL) is a key factor for employability, and lifelong guidance (LLG) provision is a key component of national lifelong learning strategies. There is also a need for strong guidance services and guidance tools throughout the lifespan to equip people with the skills to manage their learning and careers and the transitions between and within education/training and work (ELGPN 2010, 7).

As there are no ‘ready-made’ career paths to choose but one must create one’s own individual  combinations of different kinds of skills and competences, coping with work duties requires a self-directed approach to work. Employees are expected to make a commitment to work as if they were entrepreneurs and they have to find their career paths and opportunities themselves. The new world of work calls for a responsible attitude toward work and its development as well as the willingness to use one’s creativity, innovativeness and competence for the good of the employer and different projects. As work is becoming more and more entrepreneurial, everyone at the labour market has to act entreprenially.

The results of our studies (Römer-Paakkanen et al. 2014; Römer-Paakkanen 2011; Römer-Paakkanen and Pekkala 2008) and the literature has made us to realize that career and entrepreneurship education process in higher education is not a linear process. Rather, it is more like a spiral process in which the different levels of career and entrepreneurship education are more inter-dependent and co-existing (Figure 1). The holistic counselling model takes account on that the students life has at least three different dimensions: Education path (study counselling), work and career path (career counselling and entrepreneurship counselling), and one’s own life (family, hobbies, experiences).  We should reflect our work, education and life paths in the future environment and not only in this current moment or in the time sphere of those couple of years that we spend at education. The holistic counselling model can be used in the personal career planning process – in the student teams, in the discussions between the student and the counsellor, or by the individual student independently.

Holistic entrepreneurial counselling

Figure 1: Holistic entrepreneurial counselling for higher education students (Römer-Paakkanen 2011; Römer-Paakkanen et al. 2014, p. 168).

When the students are planning their future they need to be pro-active and take over their own life. With the holistic entrepreneurial counselling model the students can perceive different study, career and life paths and different choices in different futures. They can get a glimpse of different kinds of opportunities (and also risks) that they can face when they are travelling in different future scenarios.

The targets of the holistic model for counselling are to help higher education students to realize that they themselves can influence their future. The holistic model takes account that life has several dimensions (i.e. the working life and career, education and one’s own private life) that are intertwined and all the dimensions together develop our competencies and skills. The model aims to help the students to foresee the future, to be pro-active and to act entrepreneurially. There is no right answer or decision but the aim is also to train the students to challenge the troubles and to learn from not so good decisions or from mistakes. Holistic counselling model means that by planning, learning, developing, doing, challenging and reflecting we can plan and build our future so that we have a meaningful career path and can make our own choices – and this brings us the quality of life.


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