The quality of guidance services has become a crucial public policy-making issue in OECD membercountries. In order to improve this quality, some countries are setting up competence standards, introducing market mechanisms or specific managerial procedures. The highly segmented French system makes it difficult to improve the quality and user-friendliness of services rendered to citizens. Various national and regional initiatives have been launched, based on coherent lifelong vocationalidance policies. However, some debate has been focusing on the questions which arise: is it preferable to develop all-inclusive, crosssectional quality standards or specialized ones targeting specific groups? Should the system be decentralized for the sake of greater proximity? And what methods of assessment should be adopted?
It is not easy at present to determine whether decompartmentalizing guidance segments will improve the quality of services, although the financial impact is fairly predictable, since rationalizing the present structures is bound to reduce the overall costs. In addition, geographical proximity is no longer essential, since longdistance services such as telephone platforms and internet portals are now available. In view of the development of ICT and the present knowledge society’s increasing need for information, quality no longer seems to depend on geographical proximity, which suggests that it may be worth re-centralizing and unifying this whole network of services. However, guidance is not just a matter of giving people access to information. The need for personal counselling and accompaniment, especially among those who are unable to handle their own informational needs, will continue to involve differentiating between services catering for highly diverse groups of users.
Isabelle Borras (LEPII), Claudine Romani (Céreq). Training and Empoyment, n° 85, March-April 2010. Download the document.