Uddannelsesvejledning i velfærdsstaten: En systemteoretisk undersøgelse af udfordringer og løsninger i udfyldelsen af uddannelsesvejledningens rolle i velfærdsstaten baseret på kvalitative interviews med vejledningsprofessionelle

Kasper Munk Rasmussen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master’s thesis examines the state of the career guidance in Denmark, more specifically Ungdommens Uddannelsesvejledning (Educational Guidance for Youth), an institution that deals with career guidance in the Danish primary schools. The analysis draws upon political documents, qualitative interviews with 12 professionals from 6 guidance centres, as well as a range of contemporary research into education, youth and the welfare state. The study has been conducted using the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann as the theoretical base. Accordingly, UU as an organization is observed as a social system that reproduces itself through decisions. This approach has made it possible to observe the consequences of the programmes that are being used to regulate the practice of guidance in Denmark. Thus I have observed who is made relevant for guidance by the system, what the system observes as its purpose, how the system observes and categorizes students, how programmes makes it possible to conduct career guidance and finally, how the system faces a range of polyphonic challenges. The main conclusions are as follows: The current legislation is a perceived as a threat to the guidance professionals in the sense that it equates need of guidance with having social problems. In this way, it undermines the individual approach to students, where professionals assesses the need of students using their own experience. Equating the need for guidance with social problems further stigmatizes the feelings of confusion, anxiety and doubt that are common to the youth of today and it cuts off the main body of students from getting individual guidance. This means that problems such as stress and over motivation might be left unnoticed and that the role of the parent as the main career counsellor is strengthened. In addition, guidance is seen as a compensating activity, and thus as social not educational policy. Regarding the overall purpose of career guidance at least three competing perspectives are made visible; to ensure that 95% of a youth generation completes secondary education, making the interests of the students the basis of guidance and to contribute to the career selection-mechanisms of the educational system towards the labour market. The different perspectives creates tension in the organization as the first mentioned goal pushes aside to other two, and it seems like an impossible task for the counsellors to achieve all three. In an analysis of the tool being used to assess educational readiness nationwide (Uddannelsesparathedsvurderingen) it is shown that students choice of secondary education is observed through the distinction risk/safety with a strong focus on the actions of the student, thus individualizing the risks of the educational system and ignoring the structural problems that produces drop-outs. The assessment tool is used in the process of improving the student, rather than just assessing the students’ competencies at the end of primary school, as it makes it possible for the counsellor to work with all aspects of the student thus making among other things the personality of the student a steerable competency. It is seen that the assessments of the counsellors varies greatly, and this could possibly lead to uncertainty among teachers, parents and students, about what is really being assessed. In an analysis of the Educational Plans that all students must have, it is shown that they are used in a way that focuses on the students’ self-relations, making these the target of counselling, rather than external barriers. Thus, the job of counsellors changes from first order to second order help. To sum up, the role of the career counsellor is changing from providing guidance on the educational system and labour market to the general student population to being a social policy tool for preventing exclusion of those who are labelled as ‘vulnerable’. The function thus shifts from first order to second order help. Additionally the expectation that counsellors to sooth the labour market, can move students from university preparatory school to vocational training seems hard to meet, as it is dependent on changes in the educational system itself.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages76