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Supporting Rural Access to Guidance

Rural Guidance is a developing issue in many parts of the UK and Ireland. NAEGA is pleased to print this shortened version of a forthcoming conference paper by Andrea McCarthy and Martina Harte.

One of the many barriers facing adults accessing all levels of education is the lack of dedicated adult information and career guidance. This has been well documented by many researchers over the last decade and is particularly true for those living in rural community settings who not only experience difficulty in accessing information and guidance but also cannot access education due to the lack of educational infrastructure.

Traditionally Guidance Counsellors have operated within or in conjunction with urban based educational institutions. Resultant guidance networks therefore include these educational centres, job placement services, voluntary and statutory agencies which, in population centres, are relatively easy to develop. To address the rural situation adult guidance must now however consider a rural model, which will necessitate a different set of networks and a change in traditional work practices.

In 1998, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) as part of a transnational European Union project under the INTEGRA initiative "A New Start", created the Regional Educational Guidance Service for Adults (REGSA) to address this imbalance in adult guidance. REGSA was one of the first services within Ireland to concentrate solely on the provision of information and educational guidance to adults particularly marginalised and disadvantaged adults living in South East Ireland.

A qualitative report on the effectiveness of the service provided by REGSA was commissioned by the EU midway through the project.