Sunday, May 22

The Conservatives want high school where you can start whenever you want – and take the exam when it suits you

Julian Berrino Fontana (33) lost his hotel job when the corona hit. Thanks to a pilot project at Åkrehamn VGS, he was able to go straight into an education that gives him a certificate as an industrial mechanic.

Julian Berrino Fontana (in the middle of the picture) is working on a trade certificate in adulthood after losing his job at a hotel under the corona. Subject teacher William Louis Park (left) provides training in milling with the students. To the left is student Maryann Ånensen.

Åkrehamn upper secondary school on Karmøy has started its own pilot project to help adults who have not completed upper secondary school.

Keywords for adult school:

  • You can start at any time of the year
  • You can take the exam when you are ready

– For me, this was perfect, says Argentine-born Julian Berrino Fontana.

He lost his job due to downsizing in the autumn of 2020. He thought he had to reorient himself, get a trade certificate. But he thought he would have to wait until school starts in August the following year.

However, the local Nav office gave him the telephone number for Åkrehamn upper secondary and told him about the offer there.

– I thought I had to wait a long time, but here I could start right away, says Fontana.

He is a Spanish citizen and lives in Haugesund with his six-year-old daughter.

Julian Berrino Fontana aims to take a certificate as an industrial mechanic.

– We can not have it like that!

Rector Åse Bratthammer has long been passionate about creating a high school adapted for adults who have dropped out of high school. Or who for other reasons do not have a diploma.

– Today’s school is designed for 16-19-year-olds. It follows a fixed structure, with rigid teaching and fixed dates. Admission in August. Exam in May, she says

She says that for many adults who are suddenly without a job, the current system does not fit.

– We can not have it like that! The industry is screaming for skilled workers, the health service the same. Then we as a school must be on the supply side. Then it is important that we can give an offer immediately to those who do not have time to wait for many months to start school, says Bratthammer.

Rector Åse Bratthammer has taken the initiative to ensure that adults who wish to complete upper secondary school can start teaching at any time of the year.

Corona funds provided the opportunity

But Bratthammer did not quite know how to do it – and not least: how to find the money?

– Under the corona, however, funds came via the so-called Education Promise. Then we took the chance, she says.

The promise of education was one of the government’s measures for dealing with the laid off and unemployed after the covid-19 crisis in the spring of 2020.

Together with Nav locally it was made a pilot project.

Requires motivated and flexible employees

The school has its own specially adapted workshop, and has agreements with private contractors where students receive training.

– But all this must cost a lot of money?

– For the time being, we have funds until 2023. I cross my fingers that the authorities see that this is a good measure.

Bratthammer highlights the employees.

– It is inevitable that this requires employees who are very motivated, flexible and like challenges. But fortunately we have. Without it, we would not have made it.

– Do you succeed?

– We have not held on for a long time, but several are already on apprenticeships. So this works.

Solberg: Fantastic what Åkrehamn has achieved

Erna Solberg herself has visited Åkrehamn VGS. She is very impressed.

– It’s just amazing what they have achieved there. They are very good at everything, she says.

Now the Conservatives want “upper secondary for adults” to be an offer all over the country.

Erna Solberg, Conservative leader

Solberg points out that today two out of five adults who have not completed upper secondary education are without a job. And that almost 600,000 adults aged 25 to 66 do not have a diploma.

She also refers to Nav’s business survey which shows that there is one shortage of labor equivalent to 46,000 people.

– One of the most important tasks in the future will be to splice all those who are outside working life with the vacancies. That is why we want to create a new upper secondary school for adults, says Erna Solberg.

She says today’s high school is not adapted to the needs of many adults, or for business.

– If we do not adapt the system, the right to complete will be just one right on paper. There is a great need to think new here, and that is what the Conservatives are doing now, she says.

Collaboration Nav, school and company

She envisages a collaboration between Nav, school and company, as it is in Åkrehamn.

– We want a nationwide solution. It can start with some experiments being made under the auspices of the counties. Maybe a few schools can get a national function, by making a scheme that other schools can use.

Solberg says this is a proposal they are working on and which they want to challenge the government on.

She says this proposal is a follow-up to the completion reform from the Solberg government. It established a right for everyone to complete upper secondary education regardless of age. Before, there was a time limit of three years.

– But how much will this cost?

– We do not have an exact amount, but it will still be much more expensive to leave people out of working life than to help them into work. We already spend a lot of money on those who are out of work. This is really about making the systems better.

– Are there enough teachers to implement this on a national basis?

– Ensuring enough good teachers is an important part of the job we have to do. But I think we can get a lot out of teacher resources through digital teaching,

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