First NICE Academy in Krakow

First NICE Academy in Krakow – A Report

Johannes Katsarov, Coordinator of the NICE Foundation

From 5-8 September 2018, we held our first European Academy in Krakow. With our academies, we aim at enriching the current range of international scientific conferences with a new format that focuses primarily on learning and networking. Accordingly, the academies aren’t conferences, but large training events for practitioners of career guidance and counselling and academic trainers in the domain.

The theme of the first NICE Academy was the question of how the dialogue between science and practice in career guidance and counselling can be enhanced. The first keynote speaker, Jenny Bimrose from the University of Warwick (UK), immediately devoted herself to this question after a warm reception with all kinds of drinks and snacks. She raised the question of what role theory plays for practice and repeatedly encouraged the participants to discuss various key questions in small groups.

Picture: Participants of the NICE Academy in Krakow 2018

The next morning, the second keynote speaker, Scott Solberg from Boston University (USA), spoke out in favour of rethinking career guidance and counselling. To a greater extent than in the past, socio-emotional learning should empower people to shape their educational and professional biographies independently, for example by enabling them to deal with insecurity.

Directly following these words, which invited the participants to rethink their practice, they had the opportunity to choose between several 90-minute training workshops. The most popular was a master class on “Career Guidance for Social Justice” offered by Tristram Hooley (UK), Ronald Sultana (Malta) and Rie Thomsen (Denmark). For my part, I took part in a workshop on supporting migrants and refugees from Anne Chant and Hazel Reid (UK). There we solved mathematical problems, while our neighbours asked us all sorts of strange questions about other topics – to get a lively picture of the mental burdens fugitives often carry around with them.

A total of 12 such workshops were offered at the academy – and were very well received by the participants. A central condition was that at least 60 minutes of the workshops were spent on discussions, individual and group tasks. In the other workshop I attended, Nurten Karacan Özdemir (Turkey), for example, led us to intuitively select therapeutic cards to become aware of different aspects of our own careers. What I learned about myself (and about a valued colleague) was unexpected and left a lasting impression on me.

The Academy also offered space for the presentation and discussion of new scientific findings on counselling practice and training of counsellors. Through its academies, we would also like to promote research that makes greater efforts towards innovation in practice and training.

Another highlight for many participants were parallel workshops under the motto “It takes two to tango”. Using the Dynamic Facilitation method, practitioners and academics jointly discussed specific challenges of career guidance and counselling, e.g., clarifying what kind of a support a client needs, asking the questions (a) what practical challenges are involved, (b) what are good practices, (c) how could practitioners be trained for these challenges and (d) what research and development needs do we see here? What was fascinating about the corresponding discussions was how much the participants could learn from each other and how many ideas were collected to improve the existing practices (career support & training of practitioners). A summary will be published in 2019.

To crown the Academy, Mary McMahon (University of Queensland, Australia) spoke about how a systemic understanding of the counselling situation, the clients and the counsellors can change the practice and how it can be put into practice.

Two people were honoured at the academy, whom I would like to congratulate here in the name of the NICE Foundation: Christiane Schiersmann (University of Heidelberg) received the annual prize of the European Society for Vocational Designing and Career Counselling (ESVDC) for her life’s work in the field of research on educational and career guidance. Bernd-Joachim Ertelt (HdBA Mannheim et al.) was honoured by the NICE Foundation for his lifelong services to the training of guidance practitioners in Europe. These two awards were also extensively celebrated at a particularly cordial gala dinner hosted by our host Czeslaw Noworol (Uniwersytet Jagiellonski Krakow).

With the first academy in Krakow, NICE wants to establish a new beginning and a new tradition. The very positive feedback from around 80 participants from around 25 countries shows that we are well on our way to fulfilling this mission. In this respect, I am very pleased to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the next NICE Academy, which will be held from 9 to 12 October 2019 at the University of Split in Croatia. This year’s theme will be innovative methods and approaches in educational and vocational guidance, and we are already looking forward to learning many new things and broadening our horizons in a dialogue between practice and research.

Photo Gallery from Krakow Academy: http://www.nice-krakow2018.confer.uj.edu.pl/photo-gallery/

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