10 priorities

We want everybody in the Nordic Region to have the knowledge and skills to cope with a more complex future. See the areas in which the Nordic Council of Ministers for Education and Research is working to develop the competencies of the future.

1. Research

Generating new knowledge is important to the competencies of the future. Nordic co-operation on research is all about enhancing the impact of research on our society and making sure that Nordic research is of the highest possible international quality. Our ambition is to keep the Nordic Region at the forefront of global research. The co-operation takes place under the auspices of the Nordic institution NordForsk, which funds major interdisciplinary programmes in different areas.

2. Promoting early, intersectoral and inclusive initiatives in the education system

Research shows that one of the best ways to protect vulnerable children and young people is education and early, intersectoral intervention. The Nordic countries work together to solve complex social challenges, including vulnerable children and young people’s well-being, and education as the starting point for a good adult life. The challenge exists throughout the Region, and we need to find good solutions together. Part of the solution is earlier and stronger intersectoral collaboration. The most important aspects of any good partnership – whether Nordic, intersectoral or interdisciplinary – are trust in each other and focus on shared goals. In this case, the goal is to include all children and young people – regardless of their background – by promoting early, intersectoral and inclusive initiatives in the education system.

3. Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning for all is an important priority for Nordic co-operation on education. It covers all types of education – learning and lifelong skills enhancement in the traditional education system, in adult and continuing education, and in in-service vocational training. The two key Nordic players in lifelong learning are: Nordplus, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ biggest lifelong learning programme, and Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL), a forum for sharing experiences and knowledge with each other. NVL focuses on topics like recognition of competencies, quality in validation, guidance, learning in and for the workplace, skills enhancement for adult educators, integration and inclusion through adult learning.

4. Entrepreneurship and innovation

The education system needs to prepare school pupils and students for a life in which they are actively involved in and help create the future. Innovation is all about identifying the resources, methods and opportunities to develop new ideas, and then to transform those into practical solutions that generate added value for the end-users. The Nordic Council of Ministers has run several programmes to boost entrepreneurial culture and links between education, research and innovation in the Nordic countries, e.g. setting out Nordic competency goals and didactic principles for teaching entrepreneurship, and five of the leading technical universities in the Nordic Region (Nordic Five Tech) work closely together on training in entrepreneurship. Their students are offered the opportunity to take advantage of all five universities’ entrepreneurship programmes.


5. Democratic competencies

Democracy is the cornerstone of our society. We often take it for granted and it is easy to forget that not everyone has our experience and understanding of democracy. It is important that the we constantly work on our democratic competencies. We do that by bolstering the education sector's ability to confront social challenges and conflicts by democratic means, as well as its ability to prevent the spread of violent extremism. We also do it by means of positive discussions and exchanges of experience between the Nordic countries and help each other develop our competencies. The DIS Network is the tool we use to prevent discrimination, marginalisation and violent extremism and to promote democratic citizenship among our Nordic children and young people.

6. Digital literacy

Digital and technological change is happening fast. This may create a wide range of opportunities but also poses dilemmas. One of the important tasks is, therefore, to ensure that children and young people have the necessary competencies to be able to cope in a changeable, digitalised and automated society. Education plays an important role. Nordic C.R.A.F.T. (Creating Really Advanced Creative Thinkers) is a project aimed at developing the 21st century. The most important competencies of the century, such as collaboration, problem solving and innovation, critical thinking, communication and computational thinking. Experiences from Nordic C.R.A.F.T. show that the model for innovative teaching with technology helps students be motivated for learning. It also helps develop the teachers’ competencies in working with their pupils as producers and active communicators.

7. Sustainable development

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ programme “Generation 2030 ” supports the Nordic countries’ implementation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Nordic Region and emphasises the importance of involving children and young people in change – now and for the future. In education, the focus is on making the Nordic Region a world leader in the implementation of UN SDGs 4 on quality in education, especially sub-goal 4.7 on global citizenship. The Nordic countries are working hard to identify the best methods for working with SDG 4.7 in the education system.

8. Language understanding

Nordic co-operation on language contributes to knowledge of the official languages, sign language and minority languages of the Region. It strengthens mutual understanding between the neighbouring languages Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. The focus is on the links between language and culture. Children and young people's use of and attitudes toward language are at the core of this work. One topical theme is how the Nordic languages will fare in the future due to the influence of English, new technology and new, interactive, social media.

Good language and cultural understanding add to the sense of Nordic affinity. It also increases the interest in and motivation to study or work in the neighbouring countries. From a communications perspective, therefore, the mobility and language programmes provide input into other.

9. Mobility

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ funding programmes Nordplus and Nordic Master promote mobility in education – everything from short exchange programmes for school pupils to intensive courses or full-time study programmes for students in higher education or adult learning. The programmes also provide opportunities for teachers to form networks and take part in development projects of all sizes. Mobility is high on the Nordic agenda. Not just because it is practical that we learn from each other and exchanges experiences across boundaries, but also because it helps us better understand each other’s languages and cultures, enhances the sense of Nordic affinity and improves skills in operating in international environments.   

10. Recognition of qualifications

Mobility in the Nordic Region is a political priority. The aim is to remove as many barriers to studying or working in other Nordic countries as possible. The Nordic countries want to work more closely together on mutual recognition of each other’s academic and vocational qualifications at all levels. The idea is that citizens should not be rejected when they apply for admission to education or seek a job in another Nordic country, just because their qualifications are from another part of the Nordic Region.