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Course on labour market policy visits public employment office

Welfare theory meets practice.

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Visit to NAV.
The students of Sampol216, Labour Market Policies in Comparative Perspective, got a chance to see how the big questions related to modern welfare policies are carried out in practice when they visited NAV.
Photo:
Georg Picot

On 7th November the SAMPOL216 course ‘Labour market policies in comparative perspective’ visited the local public employment office. The course convener, Associate professor Georg Picot, and about 20 students from Norway, other European countries, East Asia, and the US were received by the vice director of NAV Hordaland, Tommy Johansen,  as well as the director of the NAV Bergenhus office, Erik Rasmussen.

‘NAV' literally stands for 'Ny arbeids- og velferdsforvaltning' (New labour and welfare administration). This comprehensive administration was established through a reform in 2006 (hence the 'new' in the name), which merged the administration of several previously distinct branches of social benefits and services. It provides not only employment services, but administers also a whole range of social benefits from social assistance to public pensions. It manages 38% of the government budget.

The vice director of NAV Hordaland gave a presentation in which he explained the structure of NAV, current policy challenges, and the local labour market conditions in Hordaland. He highlighted how demographic ageing, declining public income from the oil sector, and high spending on sickness and disability benefits pose challenges for the future funding of the Norwegian welfare state. Afterwards students could ask questions. Among other things, they inquired about the impact of digitalization on the Norwegian labour market and about the social rights of immigrants coming to work in Norway.

In the end, the director of the local NAV office gave the students a tour of the internal workspace as well as the area where benefit recipients and job seekers are received for information, advice, and counselling.

Georg Picot, who teaches the course, was delighted about the opportunity. “This is where we see how the large questions we have discussed in the last weeks play out concretely in our local context. It makes the content of the course more tangible.”