Norway lacks qualified labor – especially in health, construction and IT

Henrik AsheimMinister of Research and Higher Education Henrik Asheim (Conservative Party).Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

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The need for skilled labor is great in many industries and counties in Norway. At the same time, fewer than before are continuing education.

That was among the main findings when Minister of Research and Higher Education Henrik Asheim (Conservative Party) received a new report on the competence needs in working life on Monday.

The report is the third from the Competence Needs Committee, chaired by Professor Steinar Holden. The Committee states that Norway needs more qualified workers and that more people take further education.

In particular, there are shortages of qualified people in health, construction and IT, according to the report.

Businesses lack people
The Norwegian business community reports the same. In total, 41 percent of businesses reported last year that they have, to some extent, an unmet need for expertise. The need for skilled labor is increasing especially in the private sector and in the large businesses, according to Competence Norway’s Business Barometer 2019.

At the same time, the proportion of jobs that take further education and training courses is lower today than ten years ago. In 2019, only 6 percent of employed persons received further education. The Committee is particularly concerned that those who are most at risk of losing their jobs due to technological development and digitalisation are at the same time those who are least involved in learning activities.

– Must continue to educate ourselves all our lives

“I have great expectations that universities and colleges will set up courses to meet the need for expertise in both people and companies. We must move away from a system where we first educate and work afterwards, and over to work and educate ourselves throughout our lives. We need to invest more in people so that more people can take part in the working life, but also so that more people can work longer,” says Henrik Asheim.

He warns that in a few weeks the government will submit a parliamentary report on competence policy.

– It will not contain one concrete measure that solves all challenges. It will take time to change systems, cultures and tools, states the Minister.

Most are missing in Finnmark, Vest-Agder and Østfold
The counties with the most unmet need for competence last year were Finnmark, Vest-Agder and Østfold, while Buskerud, Troms and Sogn and Fjordane reported the lowest need.

Lack of some types of labor impedes value creation and employment, especially in some regions, the report states.

Poor recruitment, low completion and poor correlation between education and the needs of working life are cited as explanations, in addition to a limited number of study places.

– “With the regional reform, the county government has been given greater strategic responsibility for a regional competence policy. Different parts of the country will have different needs and challenges. Then we depend on regional solutions that are adapted to local challenges,” says Asheim.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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