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Continuing education and labour market mobility

  • Engelsk sammendrag av Fafo-rapport 2021:21
  • Ståle Østhus
  • 21. juni 2021

Data from the Learning Conditions Monitor viewed in conjunction with register data from Statistics Norway

The report contains results from a project in which survey and register data are used to analyse the uptake and consequences of continuing education in Norway. The survey data were retrieved from the Learning Conditions Monitor (LCM), which is an annual survey carried out as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Some of the register data are taken from the education and employment register, and these are linked to the survey data via encrypted personal identification numbers. The results show that measurement errors in the LCM mean that the survey and register data are not directly comparable for some years in the period 2010–2019. We find it unlikely that sampling errors (that respondent non-response is systematically related to formal continuing education) have had any particular significance for the discrepancy between survey and register data.

We demonstrate how combining survey and register data provides a richer basis for analysis than can be achieved using the data sources separately, e.g. to conduct relevant sensitivity tests of analysis results and to construct detailed and relevant indicators that can be used in analyses. We also use register data from the education and employment register to follow the respondents in the LCM over time. Such data can help deepen the understanding of participation in formal continuing education, and the relationship between continuing education and various forms of labour market mobility.

Our results show that job characteristics, such as which industry someone is employed in, and personal characteristics, such as family relationships and education background, have a bearing on how long it takes before a new employee participates in formal continuing education. We further find that when employees have participated in formal continuing education, the probability of changing jobs, changing occupations and/or changing industries increases. However, the link between formal continuing education and increased labour mobility appears to be significantly weaker for employees who are financially compensated for participating in such continuing education.

Register data are taken from a full population count and therefore enable more detailed analyses to be performed for sub-groups of employees. We have done this to investigate the correlations between continuing education and labour market mobility for specific occupational groups (teachers, nurses and engineers). Teachers, nurses and engineers are different in terms of personal and job characteristics, and the uptake in different types of continuing education also differs across the groups. For example, engineers are quicker to return to the education system to take a longer education (typically a master’s degree), while continuing education for teachers and nurses more often entails shorter courses. There are also differences between the groups when it comes to job and occupational mobility. For example, engineers faced a much higher risk of unemployment and were also more likely to change occupations than teachers and nurses in the reference period.

Teachers who are subject to the new competence requirements for teaching (those appointed after 1 January 2014) are both quicker to start continuing education and less likely to change jobs than others. However, we also find that a shortage of teachers in schools, which will often be related to the number of teachers participating in continuing education, means that teachers take longer to start continuing education. In the analysis of nurses, we found that having children after starting work as a nurse often leads to nurses postponing continuing education, particularly those who work in a hospital. Nurses who have children are also more likely to change jobs, but this mainly applies to nurses who work in hospitals and to a much lesser extent to nurses who work in other health and care institutions. Finally, we found that the fall in oil prices in 2014 has probably affected both the uptake of continuing education and job mobility among engineers. Petroleum engineers in particular were more likely to participate in continuing education after 2014, and they are also slower to change jobs since 2014 than previously.