The 52 centres cover the 98 municipalities in Denmark, each centre covering a “sustainable” area in terms of the number and variety of youth education institutions as well as geographical distance.
The youth guidance centres focus on guidance related to the transition from compulsory school to youth education or, alternatively, to the labour market. The main target groups are:
- Pupils in primary and lower secondary school – forms 6 to 9 (10)
- Young people under the age of 25 who are not involved in education, training or employment. The centres provide outreach services for this groups as they are obliged to establish contact with these young people and help them get back into education and training or employment
- Other young people under the age of 25 who contact the centres themselves for guidance
- Young people with a special need for guidance – a transverse target group that includes young people whose problems are related to the continuing or completion of an education programme.
The municipal councils define the overall framework for guidance activities in their area. Objectives, methods, planned activities as well as the performance (results, outcome) of each youth guidance centre are to be published on the Internet.
Guidance activities include individual and group guidance sessions, as well as introductory courses and bridge building schemes to give pupils in forms 8-10 a “taste” of conditions, levels and requirements at different youth education institutions.
Cross-sectoral cooperation is emphasised in the Danish legislation on guidance to ensure a coherent guidance system and a regular exchange of experiences, knowledge and best practice. The youth guidance centres are thus obliged to cooperate closely with:
- Primary and lower secondary schools and youth education institutions in the area
- Local business life
- The public employment services (the job centres)
In cooperation with the school principals, the youth guidance centres organise guidance activities at the pupils' schools. Teachers are still responsible for the provision of general careers education from form 1 to form 9 whereas specific guidance activities related to the transition from compulsory to youth education and the pupils' personal education plans and transition plans are provided by guidance practitioners from the youth guidance centres – but still at the pupils' schools.
In accordance with the ideas underlying the Danish legislation on guidance, guidance is regarded as a continuous process that should help young people become more conscious of their abilities, interests and possibilities, thus enabling them to make decisions regarding education and employment on a qualified basis. The youth guidance centres may be considered the first step in a lifelong guidance process.