Skills policy is at the top of the policy agenda in Norway, and lifelong career guidance policy is attached to this tendency in several ways. The Government joined the OECD´s skills strategy project from 2012-14. The main recommendations from the OECD analysis (2014a & 2014b) were the development of a national skills policy strategy incorporating all stakeholders, the establishment of an action plan for continuous education and learning (LLL), and the building of a comprehensive career guidance system.
The Government followed up the early recommendations with several actions: a national skills policy strategy signed by relevant stakeholders was presented in 2017. The strategy partners agreed to put in place a more comprehensive and coordinated system for lifelong career guidance and to develop further the regional career centres. It was considered urgent to raise the quality and the competences of career guidance practitioners, and to stress integration/immigration, Sami and senior support. As a part of the follow-up, the Government also appointed an expert committee to examine how to strengthen quality and access to career guidance, as well as to ensure a comprehensive lifelong system.
A National Agency for Lifelong Learning (VOX), was established to support cross-sectoral policy initiatives at national level. In 2017 this agency changed name and was now called Skills Norway. In addition, there has been a National Coordinating Group (consisting of one or two representatives with management responsibility in the Directorate of Education, the Labour and Welfare Directorate, The Integration and Diversity Directorate, University Council and National School Board) and a National Forum for Career Guidance (consisting of Government representatives, NGOs and providers of career guidance services). In total, there are representatives of about 30 different stakeholders in the Forum. Members are expected to bring the issues discussed in the forum forward to their members and bring back input and relevant questions. The aims of this Forum are to contribute to the development of an integrated lifelong guidance system, to improve the quality of the career guidance services and to increase cooperation among stakeholders. Skills Norway has a leading role in development of career guidance and career guidance policy in Norway. From July 1st 2021 a new directorate was formed and called Directorate for higher education and competence (HK-dir) and Skills Norway was integrated in this directorate and does not exist as Skills Norway anymore.
In 2019 there was a new white paper on Lifelong learning called NOU 2019:12 Educational development — Lifelong learning for restructuring and competitiveness. The NOU emphasises that Norway need to move in to a system with lifelong learning. All in all, the committee believes there is a need for a shift in the view of education and competence. Norway need a competence model where we learn the whole life - but work along the way (NOU 2019:12 p.13).
Partnerships for career guidance have been developed at a regional level in almost all counties. Regular partners include municipalities, NAV (PES) (at regional level) and employer and employee organisations. The aims of the partnerships are like those of the national bodies but targeted at local/regional needs. One of the important roles of the partnerships is also to help the career professionals gain a better understanding of the labour market, to enhance collaboration among the career providers from education institutions, labour market and authorities.
There has been extensive widening and increase in cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination on groups at risk, especially the young and refugees. This focus implies coordination both on the political and at national and local administrative levels, which takes shape in collaboration on piloting projects. It also implies a stronger commitment between the Government and labour market organisations to cooperate on priority areas.