Sociālās integrācijas valsts aģentūra (SIVA), “The Career development support methodology”. Latvia


The Career development support methodology

SIVA’s aim is to provide timely, targeted and high-quality social and vocational rehabilitation services, promoting the client's ability to work and independence.
Starting from the professional assessment at SIVA the multidisciplinary team works with each client. There are doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, teachers, social workers, career counsellors and caregivers who work with their own approaches and methods to define each client’s needs and possibilities by evaluating their motivation, theoretical knowledge, skills and health condition. Depending on different abilities of a client all specialists in a teamwork prepare recommendations for:
● further vocational training program;
● development of different social skills;
● different support activities to integrate into the labour market;
● maintaining and improving the client’s health condition.

According to the recommendations developed, specialists compile an Individual social rehabilitation plan for each client.
 SIVA’s specialists created a “Career development support methodology” that is a set of different tests and methods to better support clients in their integration into the labour market, international tools, Latvian ones and tools developed by SIVA itself. Together with a career counsellor, clients develop Individual career development plans, if specialists notice that client’s motivation is reducing during the studying, then the client becomes involved with a psychologist with a Motivation program. Key elements of the practice include:
●    Training and strengthen motivation to achieve set goals
●    Creating a variety of specific tests for SIVA clients according to the vocational training programs.
●    Creating and approving a career support methodology that starts with a professional assessment and continues during training programs and even after graduation by supporting clients to find and keep their job.

Mission: To provide timely, targeted and high-quality social and vocational rehabilitation services, promoting the client's ability to work and independence. 

Foundation year: 1991

Legal type: State administrative institution

Principal area of activity: SIVA provides social and vocational rehabilitation and coordinate’s the State financed long-term social care and social rehabilitation services. Further the focus will stay on vocational rehabilitation with the aim of helping the service users to become socialized and integrated into the labour market.

Total number of employees: 309

Annual turnover: € 5,7M

Average number of clients in the whole organisation: approx. 4975 including: 3940 social rehabilitation clients, 400 clients for professional assessment, 235 clients for vocational rehabilitation, 250 long-term unemployed clients via State Employment Agency’s project 1, 100 clients for professional assessment via ESF project2 and 50 clients for vocational rehabilitation (skills training programs) via ESF project2

Geographic area of activity of the organization: National level, SIVA clients come from the whole of Latvia.

Target group / clients:  For vocational rehabilitation – working age 3 persons with disability (not specified), mental impairments or with a predictable disability, long-term unemployed persons with disability. The average age of our clients are 35-40 years, it is possible to have a very different aged group within one study group – right after the graduating school and until retirement age.

1 ES fund project “Subsidized jobs for the unemployed” Nr., the support activity “Professional assessment”

2 ES fund project “Integration of persons with disabilities or mental disabilities into employment and society”, Nr.

3According to Latvian legislation working age starts at 15 y.o. until 63 years and 9 months (2020).

By the Professional Assessment Department, JurmalaVocational Secondary School and College, Vocational Rehabilitation Support Department, for persons with different kinds of disability or predicted disability or persons with intellectual disabilities
Starting from the professional assessment, a career counsellor (CC) works with service users to define their interests and needs according to the professional field. At this stage service users discover the most suitable profession taking into consideration their health condition, skills and knowledge. They write down their own Individual career development plan (ICDP) with concrete goals to achieve to obtain a new qualification and a new job. The main goal is divided into several small aims, so the service user can follow them step by step. ● If for some reason the service user is unable to participate in vocational training, then the ICDP can be continued by the service user himself.

● When the service user returns to SIVA for vocational rehabilitation, the ICDP is continued during the studies in cooperation with the CC.

Then, during the studying process the CC works with clients in groups or individually. The main support provided by the CC whilst the client is studying is to: support service users with how to prepare a good CV and application letter, explore available working places to go for an in-company practice, train how to act during the job interview and to be more self-confident. At this stage the CC helps service users to find an in-company practice with an opportunity to have a job after graduation. Service users pass the qualification exam and defend the qualification practice.

After graduation the CC is the one who contacts service users, interviews them about the success at the work place, if needed they help to check and find the most suitable job places and provide CC consultations by phone or one-to-one.

● For clients with mental impairments all basic procedures during career development is the same except the form of CC working (according to the level of intellectual development of a service user). The support is mainly provided one-to-one with the client and in a simpler way whilst maintaining all the principles and rules.

All steps, methods and tests are summarised, described and approved in the “Career development support methodology”, this is a manual for CCs on how to work and support service       users on the way to integrating them

Below is an outline of the support activities provided by a career counsellor:into the labour market.

  • Sum up employer’s offers and/or website addresses for vacancies to the graduate;
  • Assists in the preparation of the application letter;
  • Provides recommendations for CV improvement;
  • Provides support in preparing for a job interview;
  • Provides information on further education opportunities;
  • Provides information on subsidized job activities and services for people with disabilities.
  • Motivates, encourages and provides other necessary support as needed.
  • Graduates of the educational programs “Accounting and Taxes”, “Hotel Service Organizer”, “Computer Systems, Databases and Computer Networks”, “Catering Services”, “Computer Use”, “Floristry Services” and “Commercial Science” have become more active in the labour market.

    As of 2019, 58% of vocational rehabilitation clients / graduates have found a job as college graduates.

    Informing /

     procedure to become a client

    First step. Potential clients are informed about the SIVA services via different information channels - by the municipality’s Social service providers, via State Employment Agency, State and municipal unified customer service centres, NGO’s, social networks, Career days, different educational institutions exhibitions etc.

    Second step. Clients participate in professional assessment sessions where they can define their strengths, skills and possibilities. And as a result, clients are given recommendations by SIVA to participate in the most suitable vocational rehabilitation training program according to their knowledge, interests and health condition.

    Third step. Clients participate in a vocational rehabilitation training program where they gain new knowledge, skills and practical experience while getting a new qualification like Accountancy, Programmer, Chef, Carpenter’s assistant etc. Overall SIVA provides 26 different training programs. During the studying process clients go for in-company practice and pass the final qualification exam.

    The “Career development support methodology” is provided by SIVA career counsellors throughout all three steps and continues even 6 months after graduation.

    Service users (or anyone in their social network such as an assistant, social worker, State Employment agency’s worker etc.) can apply for SIVA services just by calling or sending an e-mail. To apply for SIVA services, the client needs to fill an application form themselves and they can do that when they are arriving to receive the service or send it by post or signed with electronic signature and send it by e-mail. No other specific referral process is needed and provided. If the service user meets all the inclusion criteria for target group (having a disability or predictable disability and being of a working age), then they can receive the services almost immediately.

    Service’s start after the disability is acquired Application for services does not depend on when the disability was acquired. Mostly SIVA service users have a disability from childhood (or birth) or acquired the disability during their lifetime, in this case usually clients already know how to act and how to be independent (as much as it is possible) and can participate in vocational training programs on their own. Also, people with predictable disability can apply for SIVA services, so they can receive the services of vocational training along with social rehabilitation in a timely manner and probably not get the disability status.

    The only criteria for applying for services is that the client should have a disability or predictable disability or has a mental impairment and is of working age. Any other recommendations or opportunities depends on the result of professional assessment and recommendations during the assessment process.

    Continuity / integration between services The Career development activity is one of the many support activities during vocational rehabilitation and is an integral part of all the processes. This process unites all other support activities, so, service users receive a person-centred service to support them with achieving their aims and goals in life.

    Meetings with State employment agency are organised by necessity. Approximately once per year SIVA organises regional conferences for employers to inform them about SIVA services and share good practices about people with disability in employment.

    SIVA has created an advisory board to find effective, innovative and sustainable solutions to deliver services for service users. The advisory board’s members are different experts from different fields such as a representatives of Latvian association of employers’ organisations, Ministry of Welfare, NGO’s, Latvian Saeima etc. The main aim of the advisory board is to discuss and find solutions to better support SIVA service users in the process of getting a new qualification and integrating them into the labour market. Meetings with partners are organized and planned in connection with changes in services offered or as needed approximately once every six months. The advisory board’s members represent specialists from different fields of activity to find a better solution by creating dialogue between different state and non-governmental organisations and policy makers. Therefore, in this dialogue there are represented interests of different kind of organisations and service users.

    All SIVA’s services are provided at the place in the agency. Therefore, it is easy to coordinate them and attract any other specialist if necessary.

    Staff and Resources Specialists that are involved in career development during the professional assessment and training programs are:

    4 career counsellors and 6 social workers.

    Also, when needed psychologist, psychiatrist and medical staff are involved.

    SIVA provides an adapted environment for people with different disabilities, material and a technical base for the studying process that is improving all the time.

    Duration Career development is a complex support activity that goes through three stages:

    1. Up to 10 days during the professional assessment

    ● There is also support provided for clients to maintain and keep their motivation before they start the vocational training program

    2. Starting from 5 months up to 4 years during the vocational training programs.

    3. Up to 6 months after graduation.

    Budget The professional assessment and vocational rehabilitation services are funded by the State budget or ES fund projects and no co-payment from clients is required.

    Sustainability is ensured by continuously implementing new service by analysing previous outcomes and achievements.

    Partners State Employment Agency


    Internal teaching staff – teachers and lecturers

    Other stakeholders NGO’s and different associations for people with disabilities that inform their members about SIVA services.

    Municipality’s Social service providers with which SIVA usually have a common client: social services also inform their clients about SIVA services and SIVA give feedback to the Social service providers about the progress while working with clients.

    State and municipal unified customer service centres that help clients to apply for services all over the country.

    Also, SIVA gets information and good practice examples from all partners to help improve services according to individual and special needs of people with different disabilities.

    Information campaigns SIVA career counsellors provide consultations and practical advice (in cooperation with occupational therapists) about how to cooperate, communicate and adapt the working place for people with disabilities, about the suitable working hours and duties employers can give to SIVA service users during an in-company practice for example. Through these consultations employers becomes informed about the different needs of people with disabilities.

    SIVA conducts employer surveys by getting feedback from them; organises conferences for employers where they can share good practices and suggestions to encourage other employers to hire people with disabilities and promote social responsibility, decrease stereotypes etc.

    Repeated service accessibility According to Latvian legislation clients can participate and use the professional assessment and participate in vocational rehabilitation training programs (along with the career development support) to get a new qualification once in three years or once a year if the clients health condition changes.

    There are no specific limitations if a client contacts the career counsellor for support or has questions about finding a new job.

    Monitoring After receiving a new qualification SIVA’s career counsellors provide support and consultations to service users during the next 6 months (according to legislation).

    Six months after obtaining a qualification, graduates can consult with vocational rehabilitation specialists (doctor, psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker, career counsellor) for support in establishing contacts with employers, solving problems, evaluating the workplace and making recommendations for its adaptation. Also, in assessing the conformity of work capacity.

    Direct and wider impact One of the most important vocational rehabilitation aims is to ensure people with disabilities integrate into the labour market and improve their quality of life. Each year SIVA gathers statistics on how many of the service users are involved in any working place.

    SIVA specialists study statistics on provided programs – to examine if they are still as efficient with achieving employment rate (according to defined outcome rates from the government).

    Employer surveys and the exploration of labour market demands in relation to different study programs offered by SIVA are completed and outcomes obtained are used to make improvements.

    For example, with help of ES fund project SIVA created 5 new vocational training programs according to the needs of the labour market, and this year all Jurmala Vocational Secondary School’s training programs are supplemented with 10%-20% of different computer skills studies.

    Success factors The most important factor is that the career development support activity is not just a single consultation, but is a complex set of activities, which involves clients discovering their interests and strengths, becoming involved in the most suitable vocational training program for them and receiving support from qualified specialists with trying to find the best working place. The “Career development support methodology” is a unique set of activities that are spread throughout the entire vocational rehabilitation process. It is provided through an individual approach, and includes a variety of methods in it, ensuring sustainability, is suitable for any aged client having any kind of disability, allowing people with disability to plan their future life and career.
    Dialogue with policy makers SIVA is a State institution and is supervised by the Ministry of Welfare.

    The policy makers seek SIVA’s opinion and vision on regulatory documents. The organisation makes proposals for amendments in the legislation. SIVA created an advisory board to find effective, innovative and sustainable solutions to deliver services for clients. The advisory board’s members are different experts from different fields that contribute in changes of legislation. Also, SIVA cooperates with the Ministry of Education and Science and makes proposals for amendments in the field of education.

    Adaptation for other countries The “Career development support methodology” could be used in other organisations in different countries that work with people with disabilities. It may require adaption according to differences in mentality and demands from the employer side.

    SIVA’s specialists are adapting existing methods and creating new ones, so each client can get a high quality and meaningful service.

    SIVA is continuously seeking to prove their services and the “Career development support methodology” is a sustainable service during which it is planned to analyse the results and supplement with new methods, tests, approaches etc.

    Also, it is planned to start up the “Branch with the employer”, so employers can get more information about the work of SIVA, decrease stereotypes and encourage other employers to employ people with disabilities.