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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 26 March 2024
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  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation


The Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for:

  • Labour market policy
  • Working environment and safety policy
  • Pensions policy
  • Welfare and social policy

The ministry is the main top-level governmental authority responsible for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) administers one third of the national budget through schemes such as unemployment benefits, work assessment allowances, pensions, sickness benefits, child benefits and cash-for-care benefits. The local authorities and central government cooperate to find good solutions for users through 456 NAV offices in municipalities and city boroughs. Each local authority and NAV agree on what local authority services their office should provide. The services provided by a NAV office will thus vary from local authority to local authority. The Directorate for Labour and Welfare [Arbeids- og velferdsdirektoratet] is the central government agency/directorate for NAV under the Ministry of Labour and Welfare. The directorate works on all the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service Administration’s (NAV) policy areas, and runs nationwide support functions for NAV.

The Labour Court of Norway deals with disputes concerning the interpretation, validity and existence of collective agreements between employer’s federations and a trade union federations concerning pay and working conditions, cases of breach of collective agreements and the peace obligation and cases of claims for damages arising from such breaches and unlawful industrial action. The Labour Court has territorial jurisdiction over the whole country and is the highest court in its domain.

The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud has its mandate and role stipulated under the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Ombud Act. In addition, the Ombud can provide guidance on how to bring a case to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, which was established in 2018. The Tribunal is a complaints body and makes final, legally binding decisions on harassment and discrimination cases. It can also award compensation. Discrimination and harassment are prohibited pursuant to anti-discrimination regulations if they are on the basis of gender, pregnancy, leave in connection with childbirth or adoption, care responsibilities, ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age or combinations of these factors. In an employment relationship, the prohibition also includes differential treatment based on political views and membership of a trade union (section 13-1 first paragraph of the Working Environment Act).

Skills Norway is an underlying agency of the Ministry of Education and Research. The agency works in the following areas:

  • adult learning opportunities
  • competence development in Norwegian companies
  • Norwegian training for immigrants
  • free, quality-assured career guidance and education and employment information for young people and adults

The main non-public actors taking part in the development of policies in the field of youth employment and entrepreneurship include trade unions and employers’ associations.

Trade unions

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) [Landsorganisasjonen i Norge] is the largest and most influential workers' organisation in Norway.  LO has over 900 000 members through the 24 affiliate national unions. Approximately 130 000 of members are below the age of 30. LO Ung is a sub-division particularly catering to the members that are under the age of 30. LO Ung arranges campaigns, conferences, and information and support of interest to youth. LO has regional offices all over Norway, and at the Trade Union House (ITUH) in Brussels, Belgium.

The Confederation of Unions for Professionals [Unio] is Norway’s second largest confederation with national affiliates and approximately 375 000 members. Its members are almost exclusively employed in the public sector. Unio has a forum for students [Unio-studentene] for students belonging to one of the affiliates.

The Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) [YS - Yrkesorganisasjonenes Sentralforbund] consists of 13 affiliated unions, with a total membership of over 226 000 persons. YS Ung is a sub-division particularly catering to the members that are under the age of 30. LO Ung arranges campaigns, conferences, and information and support of interest to youth.

The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations [Akademikerne] is a confederation of professional organisations whose members have an extensive academic education. Professions include lawyers, engineers, psychologists, doctors, veterinary surgeons, social scientists, architects, business school graduates, economists, dentists and agronomists. The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations has a separate membership category for students in training/in school.

In addition to the national unions affiliated with the four confederations, there are approximately 20 independent national unions. Most of these are fairly small and specialised, the largest and most important being the Norwegian Society of Engineers and Technologists [NITO] with more than 90 000 members.

Employers’ organisations

The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon - NHO) is the only confederation in the private sector in Norway. NHO combines the role of an employers’ association with that of a business and industrial interest organisation. Although the federations negotiate separately with their counterparts, NHO exerts a strong central authority over the federations in bargaining and the conclusion of collective agreements with LO and YS unions, and is party to all their collective agreements. The primary objective of NHO is to simplify the contents of collective agreements and labour law and to decentralise wage formation. This objective is shared with other employers’ associations.

Virke, the Enterprise Federation of Norway is the primary employer partner within trade and private services and consists primarily of smaller firms, with more than 23 000 businesses with  more than 250 000 employees. The federation represents, among other businesses, industries such as trade, knowledge, technology, travel, service, health, care, education, culture and voluntary work.

Spekter was originally called the Association of Public Owned Enterprises (NAVO) and was founded in 1993 to meet the needs of semi-autonomous state enterprises. The members of the association are primarily primarily companies within the health sector, culture and transport/infrastructure.

The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (Kommunenenes Sentralforbund – KS) is the organisation for all local governments in Norway. KS is Norway’s largest public employer organisation. All municipalities and county councils (with the exception of Oslo) have authorised KS to negotiate and enter agreements with employee organisations on salaries and other conditions. KS is a key negotiating partner in workplace matters and ensures that the members individually do not have to negotiate with more than 40 employee organisations. In total, KS covers about 440,000 employees in over 100 different professional groups.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is responsible for government employer policy. The Department of Employer Policy manages and develops laws and regulations, agreements, administrative provisions, general conditions etc for the government's personnel and employer policy. This responsibility includes drawing up the framework for the execution and development of the function as employer in state entities.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

There is no specific mechanism for cooperation on matters of youth employment and entrepreneurship policy. Youth policy themes are expressed through various policy documents that target different aspects of young people’s lives across sectors as well as through relevant draft resolutions and bills that form the basis for the Parliament’s consideration. General mechanisms which may be used to raise cross-sectoral aspects related to youth employment and entrepreneurship include parliamentary standing committees related to labour and social affairs, education, business and industry, or government appointed working groups or committees.

The Norwegian Strategy for Skills Policy 2017 – 2020,  developed by the Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Sami Parliament and the main social partners, is a binding agreement between the government, both sides of industry, the voluntary sector and the Sami Parliament. The strategy sets the goals and approaches for work on the skills policy from 2017 to 2021. It has three main focus areas:

  • Good choices for individuals and for society
  • On-the-job learning and putting skills to good use
  • Strengthening the skills of adults with weak affiliation to the world of employment.

Cooperation between the strategy partners will continue through the establishment of a Skills Policy Council that will meet regularly during the strategy period. The council will follow up on the strategy, and discuss deliveries from the Future Skills Needs Committee, as well as other relevant issues. The strategy partners will report on their follow-up activities to the Skills Policy Council.