Real world learning
TIP and TAF programs in Norwegian high schools mix solid education with practical experience
Imagine leaving high school with a craft or journeyman’s certificate, 1– 2 years of job experience, and a specific vocation or grad school experience waiting for you.
Many Norwegian students have that option, with the TIP and TAF programs.
What are the TIP and TAF programs? They are part of Norwegian upper secondary education and training, which leads to university admissions certification, vocational competence, or basic competence, depending on which track is chosen.
Brigt Roar Skeie is in his sixth year of teaching at Knarvik Videregåandeskule (high school), located in Lindås, about 30 km north of Bergen. He teaches mechanical subjects in the first and second year of TAF and TIP. He is an expert on the programs, as he himself completed TAF at Knarvik in 2002 and went on to study manufacturing engineering at the University of Nottingham in the U.K.
“Both TIP and TAF are important for local industries, as the programs educate workers needed for the future,” Skeie says of the programs.
Indeed, an important part of both programs is working at a local business and gaining real-world experience.
“TIP is short for Technical and Industrial Production,” explains Skeie.
“The first year of TIP gives a very broad and varied foundation. For the second year, students choose a more specific program, e.g. automotive, mechanical production or chemical production. There is a wide range of possibilities for the second year of TIP. The students can choose from 20 different courses.”
These courses can lead to careers as an aluminum constructor, a welder or a sheet metal worker; a toolmaker, (instrument and toolmaker or a locksmith); a bookbinder or a graphic printer; a laboratory technician or a chemical processing technician; an industrial sewer, an industrial textiles technician (knitwear) or a laundry technician; a motor vehicle body repair technician, a motor vehicle mechanic or a vehicle sprayer; a construction machinery, an agricultural machinery or an engine mechanic; a drill operator or a drill and rig operator; a seaman or a ship engine mechanic.
To name a few.
“After two years of school, students apply for traineeship in a company. The training will give the students skills and competence for one specific vocation. At the end of the traineeship, every student need to pass a vocational test. The trainee need to complete an actual task within the company, and is assessed by experts within the subject,” explains Skeie.
The TAF program is a little different, and in fact Knarvik Videregåandeskule was the first school to implement this program. TAF stands for “Teknisk og Allemenne fag” and is a combination of general studies and vocational studies.
“After four years at TAF the students complete both vocational training and theoretical subjects including math and physics. Students start their traineeship in a company from the first year. Two days a week they go to work, and three days to school,” says Skeie. “Initially TAF was only within the mechanical industries. Today TAF is developed for electronics, building industries and health care. The aim for TAF is to educate engineers and experts with both theoretical and practical skills.”
TAF is a very competitive program, and students need high grades to get in. Students must apply for both the TIP and TAF programs.
Both programs are started at about the age of 15, and after videregåendeskole is complete, students have excellent prospects ahead of them.
“After finishing the second year of TIP, students can apply for a traineeship in companies. TAF students can apply for higher education. There are opportunities to apply for scholarships from their companies if the students choose something applicable for the company,” says Skeie.
TAF students are known to do very well in higher education: “A TAF student studying in Newcastle got one of the best results at the university,” says Skeie.
TIP and TAF are educating Norwegian students for the real world and equipping them with relevant skills; hopefully someday soon, these programs can make it to this side of the Atlantic!
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 22, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.