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Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Norway 2014

image of Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Norway 2014

Norway is characterised by very high levels of migration from within the European Economic Area (EEA) and growing but small scale labour migration from countries outside the EEA. In this context, the challenge for managing discretionary labour migration is to ensure it complements EEA flows. High-skilled workers who come to Norway often leave, even if their employer would like to keep them. Norway has many international students, but most appear to leave at graduation or in the years that follow. The spouses of skilled migrants – usually educated and talented themselves – face challenges in finding employment, and this may cause the whole family to leave. Key industries in smaller population centres wonder how they will source talent in the future. This review examines these aspects of the Norwegian labour migration system. It considers the efficiency of procedures and whether the system is capable of meeting demand. It looks at several policy measures that were implemented and withdrawn, and assesses how these and other mechanisms could be better applied. The characteristics and behaviour of past labour migrants is examined to suggest means of encouraging promising immigrants to remain, and how Norway might attract the specific labour migrants from which it can most benefit in the future.

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Key issues in the legal and administrative framework for non-EEA labour migration in Norway

The Norwegian labour migration system functions well in terms of efficiency and simplicity, and is fast and relatively inexpensive. Recognition of foreign qualifications is an issue, especially for regulated professions, where delays can be long. EEA migration has raised concerns over working conditions and safeguarding wages, although these concerns do not appear particularly acute in the case of skilled non-EEA workers. A salary-threshold permit had been introduced to accelerate permit processing, but was cancelled following concern over abuse. A job search permit was likewise eliminated, although its recipients had a success rate similar to that of comparable programme participants in other OECD countries. The au pair programme appears to be a domestic work programme rather than a true cultural exchange programme.

English

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