Norwegian Labour Shortage Favours Foreigners

“The Norwegian economy is fuelling a broad increase in demand. I expect growth will be strongest in the private sector. Investments in the oil industry, commercial and private property, hydropower, and to certain degree industry will contribute to this,” Hans Henrik Scheel, head of Statistics Norway (SSB), tells Aftenposten.

SSB estimates there will be 220,000 new jobs available over the next three years, with most of them filled by increased labour immigration.
Despite earlier reports of discrimination leading to higher immigrant unemployment, foreigners passed over in favour of Norwegian workers, the trend seems to in reversal in certain sectors.

Both SSB and the Norwegian Central Bank believe 45,000 foreigners per year will move to Norway between now and 2014.

A report delivered to the Ministry of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion yesterday shows good jobs and language skills are keys to better integration of more immigrants, rather than high concentrations of foreigners living in one area.

The government committee’s mandate was to assess how the integration process works amongst immigrants, and to suggest improvements. It has already made concrete proposals in many areas, including work, education, democracy and community participation.

So far, the Commission has documented that the majority of immigrants are well integrated into Norwegian society, but at the same time revealing that a group of 125,000 immigrants are currently living on persistently low incomes.

The commission believes it is important to implement change now to stop children suffering similar difficulties to their parents in the future.

“We propose higher ambitions for better integration,” said Committee Chairman Osmund Kaldheim.

Mr. Kaldheim also stated that current problems are being caused by immigrants either serving too little in their local communities, or not having the right skills to acquire jobs. The particular challenge is that many child immigrants do not speak Norwegian well enough when they start school.

It is anticipated these proposals will provide the foundations for new integration policies in Norway. Mr. Kaldheim added that these reforms would provide the basis for a new multicultural society.

The committee hopes to get more people into work in the next ten years by reforming adult education and reviewing current teaching methods. Social equality and tolerance are also to be emphasized in the proposals.

“Integration is all about work, language and gender equality. The Committee gives us the knowledge for how we can create a society in which new groups can develop communities,” said Audun Lysbakken, Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

The Committee’s proposals will be circulated during the summer months.

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