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The end of an era? Norway no longer the promised land for young Swedes

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The end of an era? Norway no longer the promised land for young Swedes
Working in Norwegian cafes and restaurants was previously a popular option for young Swedes. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix
11:04 CET+01:00
The tradition of young Swedes flocking to Norway to find work appears to be coming to an end, with an estimated 60 percent decrease in recent years suggesting the slowing of the oil boom has stemmed mass movement west from Sweden in search of employment.

When the Norwegian economy was at its peak it was common for young Swedes to travel across the border to work in areas like the service industry and retail, attracted by the higher salaries on offer compared to back home and a favourable exchange rate.

But these days there is less Swedish being spoken on the streets of Oslo. The difference in salaries between the two countries is no longer so great, and that combined with it being easier to find jobs in Sweden is thought to be the explanation for the shift.

"It was some time around 2014-15 that we really started to notice it. We've had a decrease of around 55-60 percent when it comes to Swedish workers compared to how it was during its heyday," Angelika Wichmann from staffing company Kelly Services in Oslo told broadcaster SVT.

"Before there were busloads of young Swedes coming to look for jobs. Now we're having a hard time finding staff," said Jon Paulsen, recruitment head at agency Manpower, which also reported a 60 percent decrease.

As a consequence, Norwegian employers are now looking further east. Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Hungary are becoming popular nations to recruit staff from in an effort to try to fill the gap left by the now departed Swedes.

And there are even suggestions that a reversal of the Swedish-Norwegian exchange could be on the cards, as Swedish unemployment continues to decline and young Norwegians look for work.

Last year, financial experts started advising Norwegians to look for work in Sweden, particularly in the construction sector, teaching and computer engineering.

"Norwegians should seek their fortune in Sweden. It is certainly worth the trip," Terje Strøm, chief economist at the Ny Analyse institute in Norway noted in August. 

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