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Kaja Reegård, Hanne Bogen og Inger Lise Skog Hansen

NAV (The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) as a partner in trying to enter the labour market?

Oppfølging av unge bevegelseshemmede i NAV

  • Fafo-rapport 2011:24
  • Fafo-rapport 2011:24

The project “NAV as a partner in trying to enter the labour market?” is about about how the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Services follow up young physically disabled people with regard to employment. The NAV reform from 2006 is a major welfare administration reform, and there have been great expectations that the new organisation should be able to support more disabled people into employment and activity. Several new measures are implemented to support the work- and activation approach in the welfare policy. Earlier studies have shown that within the old labour administration several young disabled people experienced not to be taken seriously as jobseekers, and that their disability overshadowed their competence and resources.  The aim of this project is to develop more knowledge about how young disabled people are followed up after the NAV reform, and whether the new organisation has developed competence, working methods and measures that contribute to more user-oriented and better targeted support of young people trying to enter the labour market.

The report is based on qualitative interviews with informants at a sample of local NAV offices and NAV Work life centres in all together six counties, in addition to qualitative interviews with eight physically disabled young persons about their experiences with the follow-up from NAV in accordance to getting into employment.
The last chapter summarises the findings in the report. The project has shown that there has been a development in NAV that gives a potential for a better and more accurate follow-up of young disabled people on their way into working life. Especially the comprehensive work ability assessment method is viewed as an approach that contributes to more focus on the ability to work and need of support necessary to get into employment. Still we conclude that there are still challenges, and the main challenges can be summarised in four points:

    The first challenge is the priorities made within the NAV organisation. There is little attention about disabled people in general at the local NAV offices and the NAV Work Life Centres, and certainly not about young physically disabled people. The main focus of the NAV organisation in recent years has been to follow up on the issue of reducing sick leave, and in addition, during the financial crisis and its aftermath, on managing unemployment benefits. Informants in NAV have registered signals both from political direction and the head of NAV to prioritise young people, and also disabled people. This opens up for more focus on young disabled people as well, but so far the instructions have been to focus on young persons with mental health problems.
    The second challenge is the lack of resources in NAV to give a comprehensive follow-up of those seeking support to get into employment. The efforts to help young disabled people into employment are seen as hampered by the lack of resources. There are several good measures, but lack of resources to develop competence in the organisation, and not least the lack of time and resources to provide necessary follow-up support over time, imply that the methods are not used to their potential.  The new work ability assessment method per example is viewed as a good tool for a more comprehensive assessment of each person’s abilities and need of support, but it demands resources to follow up on both the process and the revealed need of support.
    The third challenge is that the local NAV offices are not working very closely with enterprises and work places, in other words they may lack knowledge about the need of companies – both of labour and support. This challenges their possibilities to do a proper job in matching qualified young physically disabled seeking for a job, with relevant employers interested in hiring people. The NAV Work Life Centres seem to be better equipped to follow up on the enterprises, but are not often involved in individual cases. Working towards enterprises is necessary to open the door for young disabled people to the labour market. This requires an emphasis on changing attitudes, providing risk reducing measures and how employers can be assured to have relevant assistant from NAV when needed.
    The fourth and last challenge is that informants in NAV have an impression that there are not many young physically disabled people that want support from NAV. There are several good measures, but no candidates… This could partly be due to NAV not registering impairments in their registers, and partly due to young physical disabled people not necessarily having reduced working ability and therefore not contacting NAV to get support into employment. It could also be due to young disabled not wanting to emphasise disability when they search for a relevant job, and last this could be due to disabled people having an ambivalent relationship with NAV and some of them maybe bad experiences with not being taken seriously as job-seeker. The report shows how the young disabled people describe an ambivalent relationship to NAV, on the one hand trying to emphasise that they are just like other young people, on the other hand having to emphasise disability to get access to relevant support and allowances. They balance this ambivalence, and have developed adopting strategies in their meeting with the gatekeepers in NAV to avoid them from limiting their ambitions towards education and jobs.

In closing, the report points out three success criteria emphasised by the informants. First of all, the informants emphasise the importance of employment measures within the ordinary working life as most effective. Secondly, they emphasise the importance of comprehensive and predictable follow-up from NAV and the importance of young disabled people being accepted and taken seriously as job seekers. Thirdly, they emphasise the importance of follow-up on the enterprises as a success criteria in opening the door to working life from the inside.
  • Published: 19. February 2011
  • Ordering ID: 20215