Career guidance is regarded to have strong relevance to a vast array of Norwegian policy agendas. It involves several sectors and Ministries and is supposedly one key factor in reducing the number of you people that are neither in education or training (NEETs), in increasing the level of employment in the population and in making career transitions in all stages of life easier. The thriving interest for career guidance was to some extent a result of the OECD Review of career guidance policies 2014 , saying that Norway should develop and implement a coherent system for lifelong guidance.

In 2015, a national committee was appointed with the mission of investigating the status quo and suggesting measures for achieving the government goal. Two reports have been presented and Skills Norway, the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning that belongs to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research was commissioned the task of portraying and effectuating a system for lifelong guidance.

Building on the existing system for career guidance, the focus is on quality enhancement, increasing availability to guidance for the general public, and linking education and employment closer together for a more streamlined coherent lifelong guidance system.


The overall aim of the lifelong career guidance policy in Norway is closely connected to the national skills strategy. All citizens are entitled to education and training in a lifelong perspective to increase the populations employability. In order to meet these needs, career guidance needs a framework for quality standards; it needs to be more accessible and professionalized in all levels and sectors.

Career guidance in the early education pathway may prevent dropout, and better access to career guidance for all may promote faster transition to work for unemployed and disadvantaged groups and to make seniors better equipped for future challenges in the labour market.

Skills Norway coordinates the career guidance field in Norway. Skills Norway is the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning and belongs to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Ministry has given SkillsNorway the responsibility to create a national framework for career guidance. Different working groups will deliver reports on standards of competencies, what competencies are included in the framework, quality assurance and ethical standards. The work is expected to be ready in 2020.



Lower and upper secondary education

In lower and upper secondary compulsory education, guidance is a statutory/legal right for all pupils, regulated by the Education Act. Both career guidance and social guidance is mandatory to provide.

Guidance counsellors in lower and upper secondary education are described to be persons employed to fulfil the tasks describes in the Act. In 2009, the Directorate for Education and Training issued further regulations on what competences are needed to perform guidance. You have to have at least bachelor level relevant education with a minimum of 60 ECTS in guidance, and relevant practice and knowledge of the school system.

However, the framework for competences for guidance practitioners is currently being revised.

In 2008 the subject selection of education became a compulsory subject in lower secondary school. This is the first organized career guidance Norwegian pupils face in the education sector. The subject curriculum was legislated in 2015 and consists of career learning activities over a total of 110 school hours. The subject assessment is without marks.

Career guidance is also given by teachers in a subject aimed at vocational learning and training called in depth study project. The subject consists of short time placement and training in local vocational enterprises.

Higher Education

University students as a group have no statutory right to career guidance. Students are either under education or adults and thus referred to regional career guidance centres or NAV.  However, most universities and university colleges have career units. In addition, all departments have student service staff assisting students planning their studies and careers.

Public Employment Service (PES) and adult guidance

The main responsibility for the Norwegian PES called Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration - NAV, is employability. Every citizen applying for services of NAV has the right to have their needs assessed and matched, and is entitled to services to assist them to enter or re-enter the labour market. Focus on social and work inclusion and increased emphasize on using ordinary working life as training and outplacement arena is currently changing the priorities and tools of active labour market measures. In 2014, a national guidance training programme for NAV employees was enrolled to strengthen the focus on employment and how to give better career advice.

Together with regional government responsible for upper secondary education NAV has formed Career Guidance Partnerships. Initially, the aim was to reduce the drop-out rate from upper secondary school by using labour marked training instead of in-school education. Now, the mandate is increased and these centres now form a basis for the adult in-house and online career guidance to the general adult public.


Professionalizing guidance practitioners is considered to be of major importance. In 2014, two master programmes in career guidance were established. You need to have a bachelor and work experience in order to be enrolled. Several university colleges also offer further training at master level in career guidance. There are currently no bachelor degrees in career guidance in Norway. To work at NAV, you do not need to have a guidance related education. However, the “platform for guidance in NAV” was rolled out in NAV in 2014. This was an acknowledgement that employees in NAV do work as career guidance practitioners and need continuing professional training in guidance.



 It is currently Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences that offers the master education in career guidance. Two newly published PhD theses` are the first genuine academic publications that directly connect to the term career guidance, R. Kjærgård (2012), and E. H. Haug (2017). Both researchers were members of the committee writing the White paper on career guidance in 2016 (NOU 2016:7). The close connection between research and development work in Norway has its cause in the Norwegian model for tripartite cooperation. The social partners, government and research community are working together to form public policy. The work on the national quality framework for career guidance is done in working groups where all members come from research, stakeholders I the field of guidance, practitioners and government employees.


The Norwegian Association for guidance counsellors Rådgiverforum has developed ethical guidelines. As public servants, NAV employees are regulated by the statutory ethical guidelines. To make them vivid, the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) offer e-training. There are expected to be new and updated ethical standards when the framework for career guidance is finalized. However, the working group for ethical standards in the forthcoming framework for quality in career guidance will deliver a proposition in 2019.

Last updated at: April 2018