VET and HRD research in European countries > Overview

Norway  [7]  Review of VET/HRD research

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Current VET/HRD research

Apart perhaps from basic VET education as a part of the unified upper secondary education in Norway, VET/CVET and HRD are scattered fields of R&D in Norway. This has to do with administration of this sector as well as with research and development activities. Thus, there are major challenges on a system level and its development towards more coherence. Research on VET/HRD is carried out mainly in various research institutes and to some extent in universities. One characteristic of this field is also that more development work, as well as evaluation studies and surveys, are being carried out than other, more basic research. Apart from surveys and various monitoring studies, action research - as a research tradition with closer links to practice - is quite common in the area of VET and in particular of HRD in Norway.

While reforms have been targeted to VET, these have mainly been about initial skills and knowledge development. In particular the area of CVET is very colourful, little organised, and underdeveloped in relation to the existing need in working life and among the adult population in general. When it comes to HRD, large amounts of money have been invested in it in private and public sectors. The work, however, is mainly carried out by various consultants and is poorly documented, without wider learning effects and dissemination beyond the particular projects in question. 

During the last years, however, several significant political initiatives have been taken to develop the readiness of the country and its population to meet the challenges of the knowledge society and those regarding lifelong learning. The government has set as one of its goals in this area to develop Norway as a leading competence nation. Policies have been targeted both at improving the quality of the education and training system from a lifelong learning perspective and at competence development among the adult population in and outside working life. The major political initiatives have been often followed by funding for practically oriented development projects and sometimes for research and researcher training. Public investments in VET/HRD research in general have been low. There have been some major programmes, but they tend to be related to major reforms concerning working life or the world of training and education. At the moment there is only one large R&D programme, targeted at school development (personnel development and training, and CVET), implemented in connection with the school reform, Knowledge Promotion 2005-2008. There are some signs of slightly increasing interest in the private sector to invest in capacity building and knowledge development in the working life context. 

When it comes to the VET/HRD sector in Norway, a dilemma situation has developed. A lot of money has been invested in practical development work in educational settings and in working life context, but there is only a vague VET/HRD system (organising of VET and HRD professionals) to respond to the calls for action in practice. The two main weaknesses in this field can be summarised as follows: (i) lack of systemic organising in the field of VET and CVET, and (ii) shortcomings and clear limitations in education and training within higher education to provide professionals for the VET/HRD sector. Private consultants and training providers are clearly among the winners under such circumstances. Although important work is being done by these actors too, generally speaking we can be less certain about the quality and effectiveness of these activities.

Future VET/HRD research

There is less need for setting up an overall policy goal and direction for VET/HRD as these have been much discussed during the recent years and with considerable agreement. More urgently, there is a need to invest in further development and extension of the educational system to become more comprehensive in regard to the coverage of the VET/CVET/HRD sector. More specifically, the following actions should be undertaken in the future.

  1. Investment in higher education for training of professionals within adult education and HRD.
  2. Increased investments in research and researcher training related to VET/HRD.
  3. Initiative to build more coherence into the provision of CVET/HRD. This includes establishing a responsible, cross-administrative organ for coordination and development of this work.
  4. Support - knowledge, guidance, and financial resources - to the VET/HRD providers to develop and expand their work towards the adult population (beyond youth and basic VET).
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Source: Cedefop - National Research Report Norway (details see Bibliography)
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO