3.6 Integration of young people in the labour market
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Youth employment measures
The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) administers a third of the national budget through schemes such as unemployment benefit, work assessment allowance, sickness benefit, pensions, child benefit and cash-for-care benefit. The local authorities and central government cooperate through 456 NAV offices in municipalities and city boroughs. Each local authority and NAV office agree on what local authority services their office should provide. The services provided by a NAV office will vary from local authority to local authority.
In addition to administering important economic welfare schemes, NAV contributes to the efficient operation of the labour market. NAV is required by law to provide jobseekers with advice and help, whether they are already unemployed or are merely seeking to change employment. The following statutes form the basis for NAV’s activities:
- The Labour and Welfare Administration Act [Lov om arbeids- og velferdsforvaltningen] – spells out the purpose of NAV, its organisational provisions, and its interaction with the individual local authority. The Act lays down important principles of confidentiality, consumer involvement, and its duty to provide information and guidance to the individual user.
- The National Insurance Act [Folketrygdloven] – provides for the central national insurance and welfare schemes in Norway.
- The Labour Market Act [Arbeidsmarkedsloven] - imposes duties on employers in connection with job vacancies that the employer seeks to fill, and rules governing mass redundancies and lay-offs. The Act stipulates the basic services and rights for users of local NAV services. In addition, the Act regulates employment agencies and hiring of labour.
- The Social Welfare Act [Sosialtjenesteloven] - governs the responsibilities of each local authority in respect of several social welfare services provided to the municipality’s inhabitants.
The municipalities and local NAV offices have a central role in implementing preventive measures, coordination and providing comprehensive local services for youth. This responsibility was reinforced in an addition to the Social Welfare Act in 2010 emphasising the NAV offices' mandate for children and young people; the law is intended to ensure that vulnerable children and young people and their families receive comprehensive and coordinated services.
The Government introduced a youth guarantee in July 2023. The youth guarantee is enshrined in a new regulation on follow-up measures under the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Agency's own authority. The implementation of the youth guarantee involves improved investments for individual follow up of young people aged 16 -30 not in education or employment. This means a fixed contact person at NAV who will provide regular follow-up and, among other things, offer guidance on educational opportunities and opportunities in the labor market if necessary.The contact person can also help coordinate assistance from various sectors and agencies for young people with complex needs. In 2023, NOK 175 million has been allocated for the youth guarantee. The government will also propose in the state budget for 2024 to allocate NOK 380 million for increased staffing and skills development at NAV.
Work training is one of several work-oriented measures in NAV and is the most common measure used with young people under 30. This involves training to persons with little or no work experience, or with impaired or reduced work capability who need help finding a job. Work training involves training for up to one year in tasks that are typical for the general labour market. An agreement will be drawn up and signed by the participant, by the employer and by NAV. The agreement will state the goals of the work training, explain the training and what it entails and lay out a training plan to be used for the duration of placement. A participant of the work training scheme is defined as an ordinary employee at the business or organization at which he or she is placed.
Another measure is the time-limited wage subsidy scheme for employers to employ individuals on ordinary pay and on ordinary terms and conditions of work. The wage subsidy compensates for lower productivity. NAV and the employer enter into an agreement determining the duration, the conditions of employment, and the need for special follow-up.
There are special programmes for immigrants such as the "introduction programme for foreign speakers" and "courses in Norwegian with a view to work". In cooperation with the local authorities, there is for example an introduction scheme for newly arrived immigrants.
In accordance with the Education Act young people who are entitled to upper secondary education and training up to and including the year they turn 21 should receive follow-up services. The follow-up service helps by mediating offers of educational or training options, jobs or other forms of employment. The education or training should, as far as possible, lead to university admissions certification, vocational competence or basic competence.
The counties are responsible for establishing the follow-up services and to contact individuals who:
- have not applied for upper secondary education
- have not accepted a placement at a school or in-service training establishment
- have interrupted their education/training before it was finished
- do not have a regular job
- have lost their entitlement to education and training as the result of being expelled for the remainder of the school year or abrogation of an apprenticeship/ training contract
Flexicurity measures focusing on young people
Apart from the employment measures described in the previous section, such as the wage subsidy scheme, which are part of the overall employment schemes provided by NAV there are no specific flexible employment schemes for young people only. Young job seekers may have the right receive unemployment benefits while actively applying for jobs.
Financial assistance from NAV is intended to secure a person’s income on a temporary basis to cover his or her basic subsistence costs. All other options must be considered first. NAV makes a specific and individual assessment of assistance needs. To receive financial assistance individuals must
- have legal residence in Norway
- be unable to support themselves through gainful employment, with savings or with the aid of other financial right
The Qualification Programme offers training and vocational training to those who have been receiving financial assistance for a long time or are at risk of ending up in this situation. The programme is full-time and includes
- work-oriented activities
- education and training activities
- close individual follow-up and guidance
The programme may also include other activities that support and prepare indiciuals for the transition to working life. Time may also be set aside for necessary medical treatment.
Reconciliation of private and working life for young people
NAV provides a number of family related benefits that support people to balance work and family responsibilities, and which promote gender equality in the labour market. These include:
- Pregnancy, birth, and adoption benefits
- Child and cash benefits
- Benefits for single mothers or fathers
- Child support/advance payments of child support
These measures are not specific for young people.
Funding of schemes/initiatives
A third of the national budget covers the various schemes administered by NAV. The state and the municipalities have joint responsibility for the operation of NAV offices and shall ensure coordinated services. NAV employs around 19,000 people. Of these around 14,000 are employed by the central government, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service, and around 5,000 are employed by the local authorities.
The Directorate of Labour and Welfare, under the authority of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, is responsible for translating political guidelines into practical action and to ensure that NAV achieves annual and long-term goals.
NAV’s annual reports include descriptions of goal attainment and the agency's accounts.