Mentoring for inclusion: New study offers a scoping review of the literature

Radlick, R. L., & Mevatne, M. (2023). Mentoring for inclusion: A scoping review of the literature. Nordisk Välfärdsforskning| Nordic Welfare Research, 8(1), 65-79.

Summarized by Saniya Soni

About this Study

Although efforts have been made to facilitate inclusion and participation for people with disabilities, low education, poor health, and immigrants in education and the labor market in Norway, many challenges exist at the systemic level. One collaborative approach that has emerged is mentoring. While studies on mentoring programs in the U.S. are abundant, literature about the use of mentoring for inclusion in the Norwegian welfare state context is still growing. Thus, the authors of this study sought to understand the characteristics of mentoring programs in Norway and their outcomes through a scoping literature review.*

*Scoping literature reviews are exploratory projects that methodically chart the existing literature related to a subject, pinpointing fundamental concepts, theories, sources of information, and areas lacking in research.

Key Findings :

  • Program Characteristics
      • Varied program types: Of the mentoring programs assessed, 8 were non-public programs, involving volunteer organizations, foundations, or social entrepreneurship; 11 were public programs organized by NAV (Norwegian Labor  and  Welfare Administration), municipalities, or educational institutions.
      • Diverse activities: Programs encompassed skill development, CV writing, jobseeker courses, goal planning, networking meetings, and seminars; some engaged in informal social activities like café visits or exercise. 
  • Target groups: 17 programs targeted adults or youth, while two focused on children under 13; non-public programs aimed at individuals with immigrant backgrounds, and public programs had varied target groups.
  • Program Outcomes
    • Positive short-term outcomes: 17 studies assessed program results, reporting positive short-term results, progress in work or education, and participant satisfaction. Mentors also gained increased cultural awareness and understanding.
    • Trust-building foundation: Strong mentor-mentee relationships were essential for goal achievement and positive experiences, fostering trust, networks, and social capital.
    • Inclusion connection: Mentoring contributed to inclusion through trust, network-building, and social capital enhancement.
    • Barriers to continuity: Short timeframes, resource constraints, and weak connections to decision-making structures hindered long-term perspectives and institutionalization of mentoring initiatives.

Implications for Mentoring

While the authors could not conclude that mentoring in Norway had positive effects, their findings did show that mentoring holds promise for facilitating inclusion. They describe mentors as “door openers” who can provide their mentees with access to resources, knowledge, and supportive networks in the context of a trusting relationship. These findings suggest mentoring can complement welfare services, supporting inclusive goals through relational support and cross-sectoral coordination, but barriers like differing goals and limited resources need addressing. Additionally, findings related to program characteristics and outcomes can support practitioners and policymakers considering mentoring interventions involving multiple actors.

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