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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Adult online learning 'first'
twonscape
Norway's government is keen to "re-skill" the workforce
Norway is claiming a world first with nationwide internet-based adult learning.

A joint effort by businesses and trade unions has resulted in The Competence Network (NKN), designed to bring online learning opportunities to millions of people.

shops
Small businesses dominate the economy
Some 50 organisations will be providing content for the network, which uses technology developed by California learning management firm Saba.

A key benefit being claimed for the government-backed initiative is a substantial reduction in public and private sector training costs, currently estimated at 20bn Norwegian kroner (about £1.5bn) a year.

NKN is led by a coalition of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry.

"Norway's competence network links employees at various sites throughout the country to personalised training and education from primary school to university-level establishments," said NKN's managing director, Sven Erik Skønberg.

Basic education

"Our goal is to implement an e-learning network that provides flexibility, speed in delivery of training solutions, and the ability to integrate multi-discipline learning applications - all on a platform that is accessible to all who desire, or require, training."

Underlying the scheme is a government drive to enhance basic skills in the workforce, the "competence reform" programme.

New laws promise schooling, to upper secondary level, to all workers who, for whatever reason, have missed out on it.

A government white paper pointed to Norway's generally high standard of education.

But it said there were still many adults who lacked basic education.

"There must be better interaction between the providers of education and the workplace, with a view to allowing the employees to take as much part in developing competence as possible without taking them away from the workplace more than necessary," it said.

Distance learning is seen as crucial in a country with a scattered population and where some 97% of the workforce are in businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

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03 May 00 | Europe
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09 May 00 | Europe
Pay deal ends Norwegian strike
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