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

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.

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

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. 

For members


What you might not have known about Oslo’s Diechman Bjørvika library

Located in the heart of Oslo, the Deichman Bjørvika has recently been crowned Norway’s most visited cultural institution. However, there are a few things you might not have known about the mega-library.

What you might not have known about Oslo’s Diechman Bjørvika library

Spread over six floors and a stone’s throw from the central station and opera house, Oslo’s Bjørvika Deichman library has become a firm favourite since its opening in 2020. 

The library is the country’s most visited cultural institution, attracting 3.3 million visitors since it opened its doors to the public, according to figures from newswire NTB. 

However, a lot more lies beneath the library’s sleek modern architecture than books. These are a few things you may not have known about Deichman Bjørvika. 

It’s a great place to practice Norwegian

Every Monday, except for public holidays, the Red Cross holds Norwegian language training at 5pm for people who want to practice their skills with others

Tickets are handed out on the fourth floor from 16:30, and the language training takes place on the fifth floor. The event runs for 2 hours. 

You can practice with other participants, which can help you network and make friends if you are a new arrival.

READ MORE: Places to practice your Norwegian in Oslo

You can book a private cinema screening for free

They say the best things in life are free, and we’ve all dreamed of being able to book a private cinema screening for ourselves before. 

But, did you know that you can book a free private cinema screening of a film in the library? Not only that, but the screening is completely free! 

Diechman Bjørvika’s mini-cinema can host films, documentaries, and short films in a screening room for 20 people. The mini cinema is on the 3rd floor, and a minimum of three people are required to make a booking. 

You can choose films and media from or FilmBIB, in addition to those from the library’s collection. 

It does come with a small catch. Eating in the cinema is against the rules. You can book here

Intended to be a social hub

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, you’re unlikely to get shooshed in this library for chatting to a friend. 

Designed to be a social hub, there are plenty of places where you can be social and make a bit of noise. For starters, there are various talks and lectures offered on an almost weekly basis. Then there are the meeting rooms. 

If you fancy giving your brain a rest, there is also free shuffleboard situated by the windows, allowing for views of the Oslo fjord.

There are also Friday night social meetings and a free junior cinema for younger visitors. 

Plenty of opportunities to get creative 

Some hobbies can take quite a bit of money to get into, or the equipment might take up too much space. Luckily, the Deichman has plenty of space and opportunities for people to try something new, get in touch with their creative side, or pick up a forgotten passion. 

3D printerssewing machines and vinyl cutters are some equipment visitors can use at the library. There is also a creative workshop with tools that can be borrowed and where you can meet others who quite like tinkering with odds and ends

Other creatives have plenty of things to sink their teeth into as well. There’s a DJ deck with headphones, Serrato DJ Pro software, Pioneer DDJ-SR2 controllers, and a touch screen interface. Aspiring disk jockeys can bring their own songs on a memory stick or use the library’s Tidal subscription. For chatterboxes, there is also a podcast studio