Education is an important investment in the future. It makes one stronger in the labor market, at the same time as participation in working life makes one better able to support oneself and has a positive effect on the individual's material standard of living. Education and work participation also affect other dimensions within welfare, such as health and life expectancy. Education thus helps to reduce social and economic differences in society and provide a basis for social mobility.

Today's globalization affects most industries and leads to ever stronger competition, with high demands on productivity, efficiency and competence. In this context, education becomes a competitive advantage for innovation, economic development and growth.

Figure 1 - page 1 (figures are from the 4th quarter):

From 2016-2020, the proportion of employees with higher education increased in all counties in northern Norway.

Troms is the county in the north with the highest education among the employed. In the fourth quarter of 2020, almost 40 per cent of all employees had an education at university or college level in this county. It was one percentage point below the national average, but 6 percentage points above the level in Nordland and Finnmark.

It is especially the high proportion of employees with a long university and college education that makes Troms stand out from the other counties in northern Norway.

Just over a quarter of the population in the northern Norwegian counties have shorter university and college education, where we also find many professional educations. In Nordland and Finnmark, 6 out of 10 at this level of education had education in teaching or health and care subjects. It was a slightly larger proportion than in Troms.

It is in Nordland that we find the largest proportion of employees who have upper secondary school, as the highest completed education. Of these, 40 per cent have chosen technical vocational subjects, such as electrical, plumbing, construction or civil engineering subjects.

Finnmark is the county with the largest proportion of employees with primary school as the highest level of education.

Figure 2

Education is an important investment in the future both to get a good job and a good income. It is therefore important that boys and girls have the same opportunities to receive higher education. In 2020, there were far more female employees than male employees with higher education.

In 2020, almost seven out of ten male employees in northern Norway had upper secondary school as the highest level of education, while just over five out of ten female employees had the same. The proportion with this level of education in northern Norway is higher than the national average, this applies to both men and women.

From 2011-2020, the proportion of employees with education up to upper secondary level decreased on a national basis and in the three northernmost counties. In both Nordland and Troms, the decline applied to both primary and secondary school, and where the decline was greatest for women. In Finnmark, the decline applied to primary school, but where the proportion with upper secondary school increased slightly for men.

In parallel, the proportion with higher education has increased in the same period, where the increase has been greatest for women.

Far more female than male employees had university and college education of up to four years in 2011; a picture that strengthened over the next ten years. In 2020, almost 35 per cent of all female employees in northern Norway had this level of education; while the proportion for men was around 18 percent. The difference between men and women was particularly large in Finnmark.

Conversely, there was a larger proportion of employed men than women, who in 2011 had a university and college education of more than four years. This picture changed over the next ten years. In 2020, there were 8.5 per cent male workers and 11 per cent female workers in northern Norway with this level of education.

Figure 3
There are generally far more men who have a degree from vocational schools than women. These are short vocational education courses in various fields, which are either based on vocational education programs with vocational or journeyman's certificates or study-preparatory education programs.

Figure 5
Results from national tests are presented using scale points and distribution at three levels for 5th grade.

From 2015-2021, there are small changes in average scale points in the three subjects: English, mathematics and reading. This applies both in northern Norway and on a national basis, but where the average in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark is below the national average. In recent years, the differences between the national average and the counties in northern Norway have been reduced.

The boys generally have higher scale points in English and mathematics than the girls, while the girls score the highest on reading.

The northern Norwegian counties have a larger proportion of students at the lowest mastery level (mastery level 1) than the country as a whole. At the same time, the share at this level in Finnmark decreased significantly from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020. Conversely, the counties in the region have a lower proportion of pupils at the highest mastery level than the national average (mastery level 3).