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Education support and cultural workers in Norway

03 May 2016
May-Britt Sundal
I am May-Britt Sundal, from Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees – Fagforbundet. I’m vice-president of Fagforbundet’s division for church, culture, children and youth. Within this division, the union has members working in early childhood education, schools, youth clubs, cultural institutions and cultural activities.

We recently successfully created a new upper secondary school professional course for candidates to become a janitor. So far, the course has been a success both for young people and for adults who want to gain a qualification while obtaining accreditation for their past experience. Fagforbundet members in the divison for public transport and technical staff have welcomed this new course.

Last week I hosted a conference for our members working in early childhood education, youth activities and schools who are qualified children and youth workers. In order to obtain that qualification, the candidates pass an exam at upper secondary school level. The conference went well, and the participants were unanimous when they described the challenges of their work.

Among other things they demand :

  • better further learning opportunities, for instance when it comes to providing good learning opportunities to children with special needs and a learning environment that also promotes good health and children’s wellbeing
  • respect for their profession
  • respect for their qualifications
  • that employers make use of their qualifications
  •  that they are presented and represented as equal co-workers at their respective workplaces.

The cleaning workers’ division in Fagforbundet is the most affected by privatisation, but in the sector I represent, privatisation also prevents a threat to kindergartens, where private investors are eager to obtain their share of public funding. 

I would also like to tell you a little bit about World Skills Norway. This year the championship for children and youth workers will be held in Bergen in October. Seventeen teams will be competing to become champions. This short film gives more information about World Skills Norway, which is a means and and a tool for promoting our profession as Educational Support Staff. However, we believe we are a bit more than than support staff. We work very independently and we want more people to know about what our work is and how important it is. World Skills Norway is an excellent oppotunity for us to highlight our members’ vital hard work. Watch this video to get an idea of a children and youth worker’s work from World Skills Norway 2014.

I firmly believe the ESCW Network is a breakthrough for international solidarity for and between Educational Support and Cultural Workers.

Also see