The Integrated Guidance Model
The IGM Handbook - An introduction
The Beyond NEET(D)s project, funded by the European Commission as an Erasmus+ project, aims to support the most vulnerable subgroups of unavailable or disengaged persons who are not in employment, education, or training, or are even below this status, as they are statistically not registered as NEETs. The project seeks to provide their target group with open, empowering, and low-threshold opportunities that are tailored to the individual, their needs, and their socioeconomic situation. This way, they gain not only access to further education offers and the labour market, but also the necessary confidence and motivation to enter the workforce or a path in further education.
Through a consortium of partners from Austria, Ireland, Cyprus, Italy, the Czech Republic and Portugal, the project aims to support highly vulnerable (young) people in a twofold approach:
1. By supporting those who work with these individuals through the development of the Integrated Guidance Model Handbook, along with a practice toolkit with a wide range of useful resources.
2. By supporting and engaging the individuals through a motivating and rewarding online gamification approach.
This handbook provides theoretical insights for professionals on how to support their target groups using the integrated guidance model approach. You will also find a practitioner’s toolkit that coincides with this handbook. While the handbook focuses on support from a theoretical perspective, the toolkit offers a range of activities for practitioners to put the theory into practice, thus offering a twofold approach to support experienced mentors in their work with mentees, using an integrated approach.
The Integrated Guidance Model Handbook and Toolkit seek to address the challenges of working with the NEETs target group that go beyond education and training by offering practitioners a range of insights and tools on all key areas within the Model, designed to enhance understanding, skills, and confidence in working with this target group.
Where did we start from?
The Integrated Guidance Model handbook is the second output of the Beyond NEET(D)s project, and offers a methodological framework when working with a target group of highly disadvantaged individuals. This handbook coincides with a practitioner’s toolkit, designed to support mentors in their work with mentees.
Recommendations based on IO1
Defining an Integrated Guidance Model for NEET(d)S cannot be done overnight. Within the Beyond NEET(D)s project, research on this topic was first carried out, which resulted in the first output (IO1) of the project: The Transnational Survey of the Target Group.
Before further elaboration on IO2, the Integrated Guidance Model Handbook, an explanation of what was learned from IO1, and what had to be observed when developing the Integrated Guidance Model is provided below.
Redefining our Target Groups: The Mentees
One thing the survey carried out in IO1 clearly confirmed was the diversity of the group of NEETs. They range from recently unemployed young persons to youth who have been unemployed for a longer time due to personal, social or other reasons. They might also range from school drop-out teenagers to young adults with a university degree. Our survey suggested the predominant age range being from 17 to 26 years old.
The survey respondents were mainly recent graduates. This shows that a large group of NEETs might be recent graduates indeed, but, undoubtedly there is also a – maybe smaller – group of NEETs out there whom we didn’t reach with our survey. Some of the reasons identified included; NEETs who were too busy taking care of their children, who couldn’t find the motivation to click on the link, who lacked proper internet access or were confronted with other barriers to participation. As this project was designed for this particular group in the first place, these ‘forgotten NEETs’, young persons without a degree, those who are long-term unemployed, must be kept in mind for the further duration of the project. It is this target group who are most at risk and would benefit greatly from a comprehensive guidance model.
All these findings confirmed the need for an integrated guidance model that is suitable for a wide range of profiles. However, it is also key to have a certain focus in the project, to ensure the materials developed are as tailored as possible to the needs of the target group.
Therefore, it was recommended to narrow the heterogeneous group of NEETs a little further, which resulted in the following mentee profile:
- Young adults from 17 to 26 years’ old
- Either recent or long-term unemployed
- With or without a higher education degree
Redefining our Target Groups: The Mentors
The respondents who filled out the survey from the perspective of acting as mentors of a NEETs-person also had a certain profile that we needed to keep in mind for further IO-development. We could say that VET-providers who often get in touch with NEETs, work as job coaches, social workers, counsellors, youth coaches, etc. So, similar to our group of mentees, also the group of mentors can be seen as a quite diverse group with different professional occupancies.
Additionally, respondents appeared to be often well-educated as most of the respondents claimed having a Master’s degree. This came a little bit as a surprise, as having a Master’s degree should not be a requirement for most of the jobs mentioned above. At the same time, this shows that most mentors have a strong academic background and could be interested in an integrated guidance model that can serve as a theoretical guidance framework in their work.
Finally, the respondents in the survey were also quite experienced in working with our target group of NEETs. Most of them were already working in the field for more than 5 years. This could mean they might already have experience with certain career guidance models and they probably have their own way of working with this target group. This brings an extra incentive for our Integrated Guidance Model to be truly innovative and brings an added value to the work of our mentors.
From Success to Progress Factors
After redefining the target groups for this integrated guidance model, there was a requirement to decide on a number of success factors to somehow measure their progress. However, the consortium agreed that talking about ‘success’ when working with our specific group of mentees, would not send across the message we want in this project. What we hope to reach for our target groups, is not about achieving ‘big successes’, but more so about taking small steps forward. Therefore, we chose to change ‘success’ factors into ‘progress’ factors, emphasising the importance that every step is a step in the right direction, no matter how big or small.
The Integrated Guidance Approach
To understand integrated guidance and how to bring the concept into practice.
“The greatest success we will ever know is helping others succeed and grow.“ [Gregory Scott Reid]
Taking a Trauma-Informed Perspective
How understanding trauma can help us in providing the right psychological support for our mentee.
“Trauma is not what happens to us but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” [Peter A. Levine (Clinical Psychologist)]
Building and Maintaining a Social Support Network
“If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.” [African proverb]
From Communication to Dialogue
Frameworks and strategies to communicate effectively and empathetically with your mentee.
“Verbal communication is essential in order to understand what is going on inside other people. If they don't tell us their thoughts, feelings, and their experiences, we are left to guess”. [Dr Gary Chapman]
Digital Tools to Offer Integrated Guidance
Learning how to use digital tools to reach or communicate with your mentee.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” [Charles Darwin]
Become introduced to the concept of work-based learning and how it can be used in an integrated guidance approach.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” [Benjamin Franklin]
Recognition of Prior Learning
How can you validate or recognise previous learning experiences so your mentee has tangible evidence of their skills?
“Formal education teaches how to stand, but to see the rainbow you must come out and walk many steps on your own.” [Amit Ray]
This toolkit coincides with the Integrated Guidance Model Handbook, which provides theoretical insights for professionals on how to support their target groups using the integrated guidance model approach. While the handbook focuses on support from a theoretical perspective, this toolkit offers a range of activities for practitioners to put the theory into practice, thus offering a twofold approach to support experienced mentors in their work with mentees, using an integrated approach.