Norwegian vocational education and training (VET)

VET is part of the formal upper secondary education system in Norway. From the school year 2020/21, upper secondary VET in Norway covers 10 education programmes that lead to more than 180 different trade or journeyman’s certificates. 

Most upper secondary VET programmes follow the main 2+2 model. The model entails two years of education in an upper secondary school followed by two years of apprenticeship training and productive work in a training enterprise or public institution. The final exam is a trade or journeyman`s test leading to an EQF level 4 qualification. The upper secondary schools are responsible for the first two years of education and training, while the enterprises are responsible for the final two years.

During the two years, the VET student is given a general introduction to the vocational field and an opportunity to specialise in a chosen craft or trade. The teaching focuses common core subjects (Norwegian, English, mathematics, physical education, natural sciences and social sciences), and common programme subjects which cover trade-specific theory and practice. During the first year (Vg1-upper secondary level 1) these subjects offer a general introduction to the vocational field. During the second year (Vg2-upper secondary level 2) these subjects become more specific as VET students decide which trade they want to pursue. The apprenticeship period gives the apprentice an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in a vocational field and prepare for the trade or journeyman’s test. The two-year apprenticeship is formalised through a signed contract between the apprentice and the training enterprise. The county authorities have an overarching responsibility for all aspects of public upper secondary education and training, including apprenticeship training. Thus, the apprenticeship contract must be approved by the county authorities.

Social partner representatives from business, industry and the public sector hold the majority of the seats in all advisory bodies in the decision-making system for upper secondary VET. Close dialogue with the social partners is important in anticipating skills needs and in securing relevant provision of VET. Thus, tripartite cooperation is important in both designing VET provision and in assuring relevance and quality in accordance with labour market needs. The social partners have been actively involved in the development of the a new structure of available courses and apprenticeships which is in force from the school year 2020/21 and also in the development of renewed VET curricula for all trades and crafts in accordance with labour market needs. The new VET curricula will be implemented as of the school year 2020/21.

For information about tertiary VET in Norway, please consult the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.

Illustration of the Vocational education and training structure

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