Solberg: Norway needs smart foreigners

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Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix
12:02 CET+01:00
Moving to Norway should be made easier for highly-qualified foreign workers, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said, as she unveiled plans to allow non-European experts and specialists to jump immigration queues.

“We must make Norway more attractive for highly-skilled labour from other countries,” she said. Her plans include a fast-lane for applications from experts from outside the EU and EES. She also wants to give pre-approved employers the right to jump the queue.

Solberg said she expected to be supported by her coalition partners in the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), despite that party’s election promise to tighten rules on labour migration.

Immigrants accounted for two thirds of the growth in employment in Norway between 2004 and 2012. But in contrast to countries such as the UK, only a small proportion of immigrants were graduates.

“Engineers come here too, but Norway probably isn’t the most attractive land to come to for people with high-level qualifications. The language is a natural obstacle, but a lot can be improved in making processing simpler and faster.”

Solberg said she wasn’t concerned that new arrivals would push down Norwegian wages:

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“If there are proper conditions they will earn the same as Norwegians would have earned as beginners, as they won’t have previous experience from Norwegian working life.”

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