Human Geography
Research Project

Skill formation and employment

Skill formation and employment, covers a core component in regional development and economic transition.

The main focus in this first study is the TAF model, which is an ambitious initiative in line with the visions of a dual model of secondary education involving both vocational professional and general subjects.
Olav Kristoffer Sylta

Main content

The topic relates to UNs Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is about ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. It also relates to Goal 8: which is about promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. 

Our studies on Skill formation and employment within Economic geography discipline at our department, includes two different projects and financial sources.  Grete Rusten has from 2013-2018 been engaged in an international research project led by professor Brita Hermelin at Linköping University and financed by The Swedish research Council.  This first research project explored industry–education collaboration on vocational education and training (VET) in upper secondary schools in Sweden and Norway, with particular attention to the initiatives, organization and operational management, but also aspects of regional robustness and lock-in effects. The findings cover the start-up, development, and resilience of industry–school collaboration arrangements for VET-programs in two industrial towns in respectively Norway and Sweden.

Both collaborations represent pioneer examples of industry–school collaborations with VET. The main focus in this first study is the TAF model, which is an ambitious initiative in line with the visions of a dual model of secondary education involving both vocational professional and general subjects. TAF qualifies for manual work as well as higher studies at college and university. After four years, students who have chosen technical courses obtain both a certificate for the completion of an apprenticeship and a general studies certificate with a specialization in mathematics and physics. The Norwegian regional case is based on empirical evidence from the Nordhordland region in the county of Hordaland in Western Norway, The TAF dual model was introduced for first time nationally in 1992 in the industrial town that was part of our study. TAF is currently offered at 20 secondary schools in Norway. A section of the study has also included analysis of TAF-careers.

A new project within skill formation linked to upper secondary schools was based on regional funding. This project conducted in 2018-2019 with Grete Rusten at University of Bergen, Gro Marit Grimsrud at NORCE –Norwegian Research Centre and Kari Elida Eriksen at The Norwegian College of Fishery Science, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway.

This study has analyzed structure and strategies of workplaces’ engagement in all VET programs from a management perspective. Second, focusing on the regional context, we have elaborated institutional arrangements and performance apprenticeships are played out in the study area. We address the role of skill formation in relation to economic competitiveness in general, but also how these competences will become crucial components for the restructuring of existing companies and development of new businesses within a wide specter of sectors including technologies within clean tech, welfare and health. 


Hermelin, Brita; Rusten, Grete. 2016
Lokal samverkan, tillväxt och omställning -studier från industriregioner i Sverige och Norge. Linköpings Universitet: Centrum för Kommunstrategiska studier 2016 (ISBN 978-91-7685-784-7) 118 s. UiB.

Rusten, Grete; Hermelin, Brita. 2016
Regionale strategier og samarbeid om sosiale innovasjoner i fagopplæringen -eksemplet TAF i Nordhordland. I: Region og regionalisering. Perspektiv og praksis.. Novus Forlag 2016 ISBN 978-82-7099-872-2. s. 165-189 UiB.

Rusten, G. and Hermelin, B. 2017.
Cross-sector collaboration in upper secondary school vocational education:  experiences from two industrial towns in Sweden and Norway. Journal of Education and Work, 2017. 30:8, 813-826

Hermelin, B. and Rusten, G. 2018. A place-based approach to social entrepreneurship for social integration – Cases from Norway and Sweden.  Local Economy, Vol 33 (4), 367-383


Rusten, G., Eriksen. K.E og Grimsrud, G.M. 2019. Kompetanse og utdanning i Nordhordland.  Strukturer, samarbeid og erfaringer fra regionen.  Institutt for geografi, Universitetet i Bergen.  ISBN 978-82-691593-1-8 (Digital) https://www.uib.no/sites/w3.uib.no/files/attachments/kompetanse_og_utdanning_i_nordhordland_30.04.19.pdf