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How Estonia is leading the way in online career guidance — and why it matters

online career guidance
Career counselling services must be championed at national and institutional levels. Source: Tracey Shelton/AFP

As higher learning finds its virtual footing, there’s one support service that cannot be sidelined: online career guidance.

Estonia is making headway in this space thanks to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (EUIF), a national public employment service offering free career guidance to school leavers.

The EUIF has been providing online career guidance via telephone, e-mail and Skype for some time. Since COVID-19 hit, it has witnessed a significant spike in engagement — online career guidance sessions rose 86 percent in the first three months of 2020.

Why online career guidance?

online career guidance

Career fairs have to be postponed for the foreseeable future, but there’s no reason they can’t continue online. Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Writing for OECD Education and Skills Today, EUIF Head of International Relations Kerstin Holland stated, “For younger job seekers, risks are high of early labour market exclusion and becoming trapped in low-skilled employment misaligned with their qualifications and interests.”

“These difficult circumstances mean greater support is needed to help school leavers prepare to compete for available jobs or to continue in education.”

Online career guidance allows students to access pertinent information about a country’s economic outlook and how it relates to their future careers.

In fact, one OECD analysis shows that teenagers who participate in career counselling or guidance activities are much more likely to believe their education to be useful in future jobs.

Estonia is known for its expertise in delivering public services via digital technology. Thus, other countries would do well to follow in its footsteps where online career guidance is concerned.

Here’s how EUIF does it.

online career guidance

Online career guidance resources are important for job seekers stuck at home in today’s employment market. Source: Apu Gomes/AFP

  • One-on-one online career guidance sessions — Young job-seekers in Estonia can access counselling services through all EUIF offices. It helps that every upper secondary school in the republic has a liaison consultant at the office; they keep schools and students abreast of online career guidance services.
  • Virtual job fairs — Though economic turmoil is globally anticipated, industries such as agriculture and e-trade are still in need of skilled workers. Therefore, online career guidance must continue to point students in the direction of demand.
  • EUIF has previously organised a series of EURES (EURopean Employment Services) international online job fairs. This fair offered vacancy postings, webinars and video seminars to young people looking to start or upgrade their career.
  • This same mix of activities saw 92,000 visits to a separate summer work online job fair in 2019. If used wisely, the online medium can be an effective alternative to mega career fairs during this time.
  • Media collaboration — Domestic and international students alike are desperately seeking information about their future. Therefore, career guidance service providers must quickly get their offerings in the public space.
  • This can be done by engaging media collaborators — put it on TV, radio, social media, and web ads.
  • That’s how Estonia got the word out on a new online job platform. The result? It received 38,000 visits from keen employers and their future employees within two days of being launched.

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