We are working to ensure that adults, whether in work or not, have access to the skills training they need. We pull together knowledge and submit our recommendations to government authorities and other parties in order to bring about skills policy development.
The welfare of the Norwegian population is determined by the standard of our skills and our ability to make use of them. Society's ability to include people with different competencies is becoming increasingly important for the productivity of our labour force. Norway needs to be able to handle ongoing restructuring without increasing the inequalities between those who live here. This requires further investment in competence, to ensure that more of us get into work and that our businesses attract the skills they need.
Skills Norway is Directorate for Lifelong Learning and belongs to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Skills Norway also earlier got commission from Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
Our agency is also involved in international cooperation and we are the current national coordinator for the European Agenda for adult learning. Skills Norway also acts as the secretariat for the national council for tertiary vocational education (Nasjonalt fagskoleråd), and we have a coordinating role for the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (Nordisk Nätverk för Vuxnas Lärande, NVL).
We need to make use of the skills available to us
According to the OECD, Norway is unsuccessful in making effective use of the population's skills and competencies. Many who are excluded from employment have low skill levels, or they are unable to make use of the skills they have, because there is no demand for them in the labour market. This is a serious problem.
The overall competence available in Norway is also affected by immigration. Many immigrants have low-skill jobs. There are increasingly fewer jobs of this type available. Studies show that in the course of the next twenty years, one-third of Norwegian jobs will be exposed to the threat of automation; low-paid and low-skill jobs are the most vulnerable. The employment rate among refugees is considerably lower than in the rest of the population and among other immigrants. Investment in effective education and skills training is a key factor in increasing the proportion of people who are in work. We also need to ensure that highly educated immigrants are able to put their education to use in Norway. Important tools for achieving this include Norwegian language courses, offers of supplementary training and the validation of real competence.
Lifelong learning is the key to reducing exclusion and contributing to a productive Norwegian workforce. Lifelong learning refers to all initiatives that help to increase the skills and competencies of adults throughout their lives – continuing education, Norwegian language courses and other foundation skills, on-the-job training and training in the voluntary sector.
We need more adult education programmes
All trades and industries find that they require increasingly higher-level skills as a consequence of technological development and international competition. Adults need real opportunities to learn throughout their lives. This is why we need a range of programmes designed to raise skills levels.
SkillsPlus is a Government-subsidised scheme available to businesses for the training of workers who need to boost their basic skills. Skills Norway manages this scheme.
SkillsPromotion is another initiative designed for adults who need a basic skills top-up. This scheme is intended to ensure that everyone who is excluded from the labour market, and is in receipt of assistance from government agencies, will be offered basic skills profiling. The drawing up of a basic skills profile should be followed by training tailored to the individual's needs. This will help to simplify the road towards a job or continued education. Skills Norway is responsible for the SkillsPromotion initiative.
The immigrant population's road to employment and education must be shortened, and good Norwegian language skills are key to workforce inclusion. Norwegian language tuition is provided in accordance with the curriculum for Norwegian language and social studies courses for adult immigrants. All local authorities must provide a service for those who need access to training, irrespective of whether they are entitled to free provision or are charged out-of-pocket. The Norwegian language courses end in a Norwegian language test authorities.
Skills Norway is responsible for the course curricula as well as the content of the Norwegian language tests and social studies tests. Further-more, we spearhead work to ensure that employers correctly understand the skills levels involved with the Norwegian language test, in order to avoid exclusion of applicants due to unnecessarily high language requirements. The responsibility for organising the tests is devolved to the local authorities.
We need to provide a high standard of training
To make sure that we are able to provide the skills required by Norwegian businesses at all times, we need to work to ensure that the training courses on offer are adjusted to suit the needs of adults and that they maintain a high standard.
Skills Norway is pushing for flexible and attractive continuing education courses for teachers who teach adults. We have linked up with a number of collaborative partners in an effort to develop and provide such training programmes.
We set the standards for adult education programmes and we contribute to the development of modern teaching aids and methodologies. We work to raise the standard of teaching on courses for immigrants in Norwegian language and social sciences, and we endeavour to improve test results.
We are working to ensure that adult education and training programmes increasingly link up with the world of employment, so as to boost their perceived relevance to an occupation or a workplace. Skills Norway spearheads work to ensure that local authorities combine the training of adults with practice placements. Skills Norway will help to ensure that the adult education programmes provided maintain a high standard.
We need to strengthen our career guidance provision
All adults should have access to good career guidance services. Careers advice can help individuals gain an overview of available employment opportunities and clarify what skills they need in order to take advantage of these opportunities.
Skills Norway is working to put in place a comprehensive career guidance service in all counties, based on the existing public careers centres. We also seek to put in place an online guidance service which will enable users to meet with professional careers advisers, local counsellors and advisers from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration.
Skills profiling and career guidance can also help to enable refugees to put their existing skills and work experience to use at an earlier stage. Skills Norway is working to expand the career guidance services available to those who live in reception centres for asylum seekers as well as other immigrants.
We need more knowledge
We don't know enough about the effects of the various skills policy initiatives.
- What works well?
- What should we be doing differently?
Skills Norway will raise awareness of the importance of lifelong learning among decision-makers, collaborative partners and the general public. Our wide-ranging analytic work highlights the challenges we face, and the effects of our skills policy. We also fulfil the role of secretariat to the Skills Requirement Committee, which for a three-year period from 2017 will be studying Norway's skills requirements. The outcomes resulting from this work will guide the development of our future skills policies.
We need to implement our National skills strategy
The spring of 2017 saw the approval of our national skills strategy. The government initiated work on this strategy in order to strengthen collaboration between different sectors in formulating the skills policy. The strategy is a binding agreement between the government, both sides of industry, the voluntary sector and the Sami Parliament. The strategy sets the goals and approaches for work on the skills policy from 2017 to 2021. It has three main focus areas:
- Good choices for individuals and for society
- On-the-job learning and putting skills to good use
- Strengthening the skills of adults with weak affiliation to the world of employment.
Skills Norway is a driving force when it comes to ensuring that the partners to the strategy achieve their goals.
If Norway succeeds with implementing the current skills policy, we will secure a more inclusive society, greater economic growth and a sound basis for our joint welfare.
Skills Norway is the current Norwegian National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning. As National Coordinator Skills Norway represents the Norwegian Adult Learning sector in the Commission’s working groups for the implementation of the agenda. The National Coordinators are also committed to disseminate the results of this work in their national networks and act as a communication channel between stakeholders in their country and corresponding institutions in European countries. The coordinators meet regularly to contribute to policy development in the field and they also cooperate for awareness-raising at policy level about the importance of Adult Learning in a time of economic and social crisis.
Skills Norway is keen to participate in knowledge and experience sharing activities at Nordic, European and international level. What we learn from our international cooperation activities gives valuable input to our work at national level. Sharing and disseminating information about Norwegian policy and practice in the field of lifelong learning is also one of our tasks.