1.3 Towards an Integrated Guidance Model
Based on the challenges that were identified in the research report that had been carried out in the first phase of this project (IO1) and based on the progress factors that had been defined, the Beyond NEET(D)s project consortium developed an Integrated Guidance Model to support practitioners working with difficult to reach and highly disadvantaged target groups, such as the so-called NEETs.
The Integrated Guidance Model developed as part of the Beyond NEET(D)s Erasmus+ Programme (2021), builds on the model used to define the progress factors and offers a comprehensive yet integrated perspective on the guidance of NEETs as mentees. The model identifies 5 key areas in the coaching process:
- Self: An important aspect of the coaching process is to support the mentee in their self-awareness, self-reflection and personal development or growth. This area might include working on their self-esteem, motivation and other topics aimed at getting a better idea of who they are and what their dreams are.
- Context: Every mentee carries their own personal background with them. As a mentor, you might find yourself feeling frustrated about this because very often this is what makes it hard for your mentee to take the next step in their lives. It might have to do with family responsibilities, mental health, physical health, no support network, and a number of other things that have an influence on who they are and the stage they are at in their life. Another reason why working in this area might feel frustrating is because it is not always clear ‘how far your job goes.’ Therefore, when you find yourself working around your mentees’ context, it is key to consult your network and bring other (professional) support services on board to support not just your mentee, but also yourself and your professional boundaries.
- Employability: As a mentor, you always try to guide your mentee towards something, whether that be towards training, employment, or another step forward in their life. Reaching some sort of employment at a certain stage in their lives, however, is almost always a long-term goal. Therefore, you find yourself working with them on finding that next step, helping them find a course, create a CV, or preparing them for job interviews.
- On-the-job: Being able to find a job is a big achievement every mentee should be proud of. However, keeping a job might be even more difficult for some, due to a variety of reasons. Integrated guidance does not stop as soon as your mentee makes that one step of progress, even if that one step was finding a job. If you want to create long-term impact as a mentor, stay on the side-lines for a while.
You might still be able to coach them in their new position and this might make a real difference in the long-term, as it might result in job security versus having to go through a similar process again after your mentee has been made redundant, or did not receive an extension of their contract.
- Communication: At the core of the Integrated Guidance Model is communication. No matter what you do with your mentee, at every step of the way, there is communication. Communication is key. It determines whether your mentee will find their way to your service, if they trust you enough to show up, or to return for their next appointment, or whether they feel safe enough to tell you the whole story. For each of the domains within the Integrated Guidance Model, both non-verbal and verbal communication are essential and skills such as active listening, showing empathy and being aware of your own bias are incredibly important for the mentor to create a safe environment for their mentee to grow a mutual feeling of trust. Because without trust, your mentee is only moving backwards.
Not only does the integrated guidance model entail all key aspects one can identify in the guidance process, it also acknowledges the heterogeneity of the target group by incorporating ‘undefined factors’ into the model. Each mentee is different and in order to maintain an individualised approach, keeping in mind that there might be something else that has a place in the coaching process (other than the 5 domains defined), makes it a truly comprehensive and integrated approach.
The Integrated Guidance Model (Beyond NEET(D)s Erasmus+ Project, 2021)
Reflective questions for the reader:
- Reflect on your own experiences of looking for employment. Do you believe that these progress factors would have helped you to secure work?
- Think about your own group of mentees. How do you think you could apply the progress factors in your work?
- How do you think you could effectively engage your mentees using non-traditional methods of communication?