Between 1990 and 2007 studies show that the number of Swedes commuting to work in Norway had doubled. In spite of the recent fall in oil prices and downsizing in the oil industry, the number of Swedes seeking jobs in Norway is still on the rise.
According to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, this migration could result in long-term damage to the Sweden’s growth. The number of Swedes choosing to work for their Norwegian neighbors has risen by 25 percent in just two years, to 83,000 in 2009. Of those Swedes with a tax card in the country, 35 percent are in their twenties.
More than 90,000 Swedes work in Norway today, making up the largest immigrant group in the country. Staffing company worknorway.se said it has another 50,000 Swedish job hunters in its database, seeking better pay and conditions across the border.
In the years after World War II — in which Norway had been occupied by Nazi Germany and Sweden had stayed neutral, leaving its industrial base intact — Sweden’s economy grew at a breakneck pace. Workers came from all over Europe, and not least from Norway, to fill the factories, shipyards and construction sites of the boom years.
Today the youth unemployment soars in Sweden, more youngsters are fleeing across the border to Norway in an attempt to find work. A quarter of Swedes aged between 15 and 24 now find themselves outside the labor market in their home country, with the ongoing economic crisis only making matters worse.
“Norway is an attractive country to work in,” worknorway.se’s recruiting manager Mikael Ljung told newspaper Dagsavisen. “We have more than 50,000 registered in our bases, who want to work in Norway. Norway is a nice country, and often offers better conditions than us. The service industry is the most popular. And it is the sector with the most jobs. But we provide staff within all sectors.”
“Most Swedes who come are 18 through 25, and are prepared to work hard,” said Mikael Svensson, a Swede who recruits countrymen for the staffing company Adecco. He added that Swedes are very popular among Norwegian employers.
“I have more questions than before about foreign opportunities from those with academic training,” said Pirjo Vaananen from the Public Employment Service in an interview with Stockholm News. “Often they show an active interest in working abroad just before they finish their education,” he added.
Charlotte Lundell had been a travelling youth since leaving her childhood home in Stockholm at 18. She first went to France, before she studied at the Uppsala University and in Australia and then getting a job in Oslo as Brand Manager at Orkla Confectionery & Snacks.
“I love Oslo. The streets are so nice. The houses are so charming. Everything is just around the corner. You’re close to nature. One of my first days in Oslo I saw a guy with a snowboard in the city center. Strange, I thought. Later I realized he had come straight from the piste. You can take the underground straight from the city center to the hills, and ten minutes on the bus takes you to the best beach. There are coffee bars everywhere. It is easy to grab a cup of coffee before going to work, or to meet friends for a five minute break in the afternoon. I have time to meet the lovely people I have met here, both Swedes and Norwegians. Life is more than work. The quality of life is very high in Oslo.”
“The Swedes who currently work in Norway largely work in the service industry, like shops, hotels, restaurants and so on,” said senior adviser Johannes Sorbo from Norway’s labor and welfare administration NAV. “In addition there are many who work in the Norwegian health system. In the future, the demand for labor will increase especially within health and care, because of the aging population. Here Swedes have the advantage of knowing the language and can easily go into these jobs straight away. At the same time, the need for this type of labor will probably also increase in Sweden in the future.”
Advisor for the Norwegian Employment Service, Johannes Sorbo, said, “It is certainly a plus that wages are better than in Sweden, and it is easier for young people to find jobs in Norway than in Sweden. We have a labor shortage.” Sorbo added that young Swedes are popular with Norwegian employers as, “they are known to be skilled and easy to deal with, and the language is of course no problem.”
Economist for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Malin Sahlen, said the issue is not so positive for Sweden. “It’s really worrying that graduates and other young people see a reason to leave Sweden. For companies, who will need these employees later, a direct consequence is that key skill and potential is leaving the country. In the long term, this means lower growth and prosperity for the country as a whole,” Sahlen told Stockholm News.
Job opportunities in Scandinavia
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Norway Popular to Swedish Job Hunters , compiled by Admin