The Norwegian competence reform and the limits of lifelong learning
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AbstractToday, 'lifelong learning for all' figures prominently within the education and training policies of governments throughout the developed world and is presented as a powerful solution to a wide range of economic and social challenges. Norway is often regarded as a country that has perhaps made more progress towards this ideal than many others. Norway invests considerable resources in its education system and has already achieved a highly educated population by international standards. Its experience may be instructive therefore of the problems that more advanced countries confront in attempting to further progress the lifelong learning agenda even under relatively favourable conditions. Drawing upon a range of secondary material and interviews conducted with key stakeholders, this paper explores the main achievements, problems and challenges that Norway has faced in attempting to implement a recent reform of adult and continuing education and training, entitled the Competence Reform. To date, the reform would seem to have had only a relatively limited impact especially with regard to low-qualified workers in sectors with poor training records and relatively high concentrations of 'learning-deprived' jobs. In reflecting upon this experience, Norwegian policy makers appear to be reaching the end of a cycle of policy and academic thinking concerned mainly with boosting the supply of skills through the education system and are now embarking upon a new and challenging agenda aimed at increasing the utilisation and development of skills within the workplace.
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