Historical archive

White Paper on Adult Education

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Education and Research

Fact sheet: White Paper Meld. St. 16 (2015–2016) Report to the Storting Social inclusion and a second chance – Coordinated efforts for adult learning

The White Paper contains measures designed to give adults better opportunities to strengthen their skills, increase their opportunities to participate in training and to recognise the skills which immigrants already possess upon entry into the country. The Government's aim is that each individual shall have the skills that form the basis for a stable and lasting labour market attachment. To reach this goal the Government will develop a coordinated and coherent policy for adults with low education, poor basic skills or skills without formal recognition. Many of the challenges in this field cut across sectoral lines. The white paper is therefore prepared jointly by the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Public security.

The white paper has three main priority areas that together are aimed at creating better access to education for adults and a better basis for cooperation between educational authorities, integrational authorities and labour market authorities. 

Improving training in basic skills

Figures from the international survey on literacy and numeracy skills (PIAAC) show that about 12 percent of Norwegian adults have poor reading skills and can be described as poor readers. This is equivalent to around 400,000 people. There is a clear link between basic skills and labour market participation. Many adults need to improve their basic skills and their professional skills, either as preparation for upper secondary education or in order to improve their position within the labour market. Adults with low education and/or weak basic skills are overrepresented among persons registered with NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration).

There is a need for creating more flexible and individually oriented training that is developed on adult terms and which may provide faster transition to work and/or upper secondary education.

  • The Government will initiate the development of mapping tools for basic skills which are transferable across sectors and which can contribute to identifying needs for training in basic skills that can be followed up by various education providers. An online training program in reading, mathematics and writing will be developed as a low-threshold service to people who prefer an online solution.
  • The existing primary and lower secondary school education for adults are not perceived as an attractive offer to many adults. The Government will initiate trials of preparatory adult education, i.e. modular structured training on primary and lower secondary level. Modular structured training will make it easier to switch between training and work and other commitments. The Government will also initiate the development of separate curricula for the experiments that are better adapted to the needs of adults, including the needs of adult immigrants.
  • The Government wants to strengthen the possibility of getting courses in basic skills through NAV. NAV will also be participating in trials with modular structured training. 

Improving opportunities for upper secondary education

Among adults aged 25 to 66 years, there are around 560,000 people who have primary and lower secondary school as their highest education, equivalent to about 20 percent of the adult population. Upper secondary education, especially vocational education, increases the chances of getting a stable foothold within the labour market. Forecasts of future skills needs suggest that the demand for individuals with vocational education will increase. The Government believes there is a need for strengthening the opportunities for adults to complete upper secondary education.

  • The Government wishes to extend the right to upper secondary education. To begin with, the Government will propose that the Education Act be altered in order to close the existing gap between the right to upper secondary education for youths and the equivalent right for adults.
  • Adults need more flexibility in training than young people do. The Government will therefore establish a new way to achieving a craft certificate for adults that provides the opportunity for combining training with work and income.
  • In order to make it easier to combine education with work and other activities, trials with modular structured training for adults will be initiated for selected vocational education programs.
  • Many job seekers will need upper secondary training in order to achieve a stable labour market attachment. The Government wants to prioritize vocational training within NAV's training programs. Through the introduction of a two-year training program, more adults who are not included within the current legislation could be offered vocational training. Flexible arrangements that allow modular structured training for adults, will also make it easier for NAV to use upper secondary education as a labour market measure for job seekers. The age limit for education as a labour market measurewill also be lowered from 26 years to 22 years for persons with reduced working capacity. 

Improving the quality of the special measures aimed at immigrants

Skills levels and training needs vary significantly among people with immigrant backgrounds. Immigrants are overrepresented among people with long higher education. Meanwhile, a larger proportion of immigrants have low education and poor basic skills, compared with the rest of the population. Immigrants will have many of the same needs for training as other adults. Many also have a need for Norwegian language training and/or other qualifications, and some need work-related measures.

There is a need for raising the quality and improving the effectiveness of training in Norwegian language and social studies, along with the introductory program for new immigrants, as well as ensuring more coordinated measures for immigrants.

  • At present, the qualifying pathways are often long for those who need education in order to gain access to the labour market. The Government wishes to increase the use of primary and lower secondary education, upper secondary education and work-related measures in the introductory program. The Government will also review the regulations for education in Norwegian and social studies pursuant to the Introduction Act and training for adults pursuant to the Education Act, as a way of removing current obstacles for better coordination.
  • It is of great importance to the quality of training that the Norwegian language training teachers have relevant professional expertise. The Government is therefore introducing specialization in relevant subjects as a requirement for teachers who teach Norwegian language pursuant to the Introduction Act. How these skills requirements should be introduced and the possible exemption arrangements that may apply, must be examined more closely.
  • Many NAV users have poor Norwegian skills. There is therefore a need for the development of improved Norwegian language training courses for immigrants who need assistance from NAV.
  • It is a challenge that many people who have education and skills acquired abroad, are having trouble getting these recognised here and that Norway is therefore not making the best use of skilled labour. The Government therefore wishes to enhance recognition schemes for educational and professional qualifications, as well as strengthen the provision of supplementary education.