Swedes keep young Norwegians out of work

A rapid influx of young Swedes is making it difficult for their Norwegian counterparts to get part-time work and summer jobs, according to a new study.

Swedes keep young Norwegians out of work
Swedes Sonja Ranta and Louice Fogel at work in an Oslo bakery, 2010 (Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix)

The arrival of the Swedes has made it especially tricky for first-time Norwegian job seekers aged 17-18 to break into the labour market, study author Camilla Sundt told newspaper Aftenposten.

“Our analysis shows that an increased number of Swedes has a negative effect on the likelihood of 17-year-old Norwegians being in work,” she told the paper.

“When the number of young Swedes rises by one percentage point, the number of young Norwegians in work falls by half a percentage point,” said Sundt, whose master’s study forms part of a larger research project being conducted by the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research at the University of Oslo.

The study is financed by the Ministry of Labour.

Many of the Swedes find jobs in the service sector or receive work through recruitment firms like Adecco. Oslo’s location relatively close to the border has made it a popular destination for Swedes, whose presence is especially noticeable in the city’s restaurants and cafes.    

According to Even Westerveld, a communications adviser at Adecco, young Norwegians are often more picky about the kind of part-time work or summer jobs they will agree to take.

“Even if there’s a lot available, there are many jobs young Norwegians aren’t keen on doing. Another aspect is that many of them don’t have previous experience,” he told Aftenposten.  

Camilla Sundt said the arrival of the young Swedes has driven down hourly pay rates, while also noting that her findings could neither confirm nor repudiate a widely held view that Norwegian youngsters have become lazier.

Young Swedes have streamed over the border in recent years, with unemployment standing at 7.8 percent in Sweden compared to just 2.7 percent over the border.

Of even more pressing concern for the young Swedes is a domestic youth unemployment rate of 22.5 percent, as opposed to an 8-percent rate in Norway.

The number of Swedes working in Norway has risen from 15,000 in 2001 to more than 25,000 last year.

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Norway posts record number of vacant job listings

A record number of openings have been listed on the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s (NAV) job portal this year.

The job market in Norway is recovering from the pandemic quicker than expected according to Holte. Pictured is two employee's going over some paperwork
The job market in Norway is recovering from the pandemic quicker than expected according to Holte. Pictured is two employee's going over some paperwork. Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Job vacancies on NAV’s job portal, are at record numbers already this year, with two months of 2021 still to go. 

So far this year, around 433,000 jobs have been listed on the portal, surpassing the figure for pre-pandemic 2019. 

“Already now, at the end of September, we have even more vacancies through this year so far than we had throughout 2019,” Hans Christian Holte, director of Nav, told public broadcaster NRK

NAV estimates that by the end of the year, well over 500,000 vacancies will have been registered in 2021. 

Some industries stand out in particular when it comes to the demand for labour. Tourism and catering, daycare, sales and health sciences are all areas with significant demand for workers, according to NAV’s director.

Holte rejected the idea that Norwegians may be too picky about the types of jobs they are willing to take as a partial explanation for the vacancies. He instead said it was about people having the necessary skills. 

READ ALSO: Five essential things to know for anyone working in Norway

In addition, he also said that the job market had recovered from the pandemic much quicker than expected. 

“We see that unemployment, in general, is back to the level it was before the pandemic. We actually expected this to happen next year,” he said. 

One trend concerning Holte is the rise in long-term unemployment in Norway. According to the NAV director, the number of people who have been unemployed for between one-and-a-half to two years has more than doubled since last year. 

“This is perhaps the biggest concern I have right now – there are the many who have been out of work for a long time. Maybe there are special reasons for it, such as gaps in the CV, language challenges, or health-related things. Norwegian society must now be good and help them back into working life,” he explained.