Involving local businesses in teaching

Spjelkavik upper secondary school wants to help pupils to get acquainted with local business and industry, so that they will want to work there in future.

Author: Frøy Katrine Myrhol.

Published: 25.04.2016

Spjelkavik upper secondary school was Norway's first 'Ocean Industry School', a concept that involves using the business community's expertise in teaching to show pupils what local job opportunities are available to them.

In the Erasmus+ project they are involved in, the school has therefore chosen to focus on tourism and local maritime enterprises.

'We want to help the pupils to get to know the industries that are so important to and representative of Ålesund, such as the Norwegian Maritime Competence Center, the fish processing industry and the shipyards in the local region. Many young people choose to study elsewhere, and we hope to encourage them to consider coming back here to work in future,' says department manager and teacher Kjersti Bjørdal.

Pupils from Spjelkavik talking together

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Jenny Ferstad (17), Julia Farstad (16) and Kristian Øyen (16) from the international class visit companies and write reports as part of their school work. Photo: Marius Simensen

Jenny Ferstad (17), a pupil in the international class at Spjelkavik upper secondary school, is positive about this collaboration between the school and the business community.

'I think it has made us more aware of local job opportunities,' she says.
Read more here about possibilities within the Erasmus+-programme. 

International focus

The school is involved in a long-term cooperation with ten European schools through a partnership called ESA; 'Building Europe through Entrepreneurship and Employment', supported by Erasmus+.

'The whole class gets to go on an exchange together, and that is a positive aspect of this project' says Heggdal. 

Spjelkavik upper secondary school has good experience of cooperating with schools in other countries, but it can be challenging as well, especially when ten schools have to prepare one joint application. 

Rector and teacher at Spjelkavik upper secondary school

Cooperation with the same partners and with businesses is an important precondition for running the projects at the school. 'If you drop out of a collaboration like this, it is difficult to rebuild it,' says principal Rune Heggdal. Left: Kjersti Bjørdal. (Photo: Marius Simensen)

'The schools are very different, with different groups of pupils and different ways of thinking. Some countries have more red tape than others and have to get things done by a specific date, while others have a more laissez-faire attitude. That's Europe in a nutshell. We are very different, but we can accomplish a lot of great things when we join forces,' says Kjersti Bjørdal.

Job shadowing in the Netherlands

When the Norwegian pupils go on exchanges to the Netherlands, they go 'job shadowing', which means that they accompany their host families to work.

Julia Farstad went with her host father to his job at a water treatment plant in the Netherlands. She explains that many jobs in the Netherlands are connected to the dykes. A big part of the country is below sea level, so the dykes are needed to keep the ocean out.

'I learned a great deal about the company and got to see how they purify dirty water. It was quite exciting. I took some photos and wrote a report on the visit. I learned a lot about how they deal with the fact that so much of the country is below sea level.'

The pupils also exchange ideas and experiences every year when Spjelkavik upper secondary school organises its annual international week. During the week, the school welcomes pupils from the Netherlands or Belgium who then get to visit local businesses in Ålesund.



  • 'Building Europe through Entrepreneurship and Employment' is a strategic partnership supported by Erasmus+.
  • Duration: 2014–2017 
  • The pupils in the international class at Spjelkavik upper secondary school go on exchanges to and welcome pupils from schools in both the Netherlands and in Belgium. 
  • The Erasmus+ partnership comprises schools in Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland and Scotland.
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