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WORKING IN NORWAY

Record job vacancies in Norway: Which sectors need workers?

During the first quarter of 2022, there were a record number of job vacancies in Norway available, but which sectors are most in need of workers?

Pictured are people at work.
Statistics Norway said that a record number of job vacancies were recorded in Norway. Pictured are a team at work. Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash.

Norway passed 100,000 job vaccines during the first three months of the year, figures from Statistics Norway have revealed.

Compared to the same period a year before, the number of job openings increased by 7.3 percent when the figures are adjusted for seasonal variation.

“The number of vacancies was a record high throughout 2021. This quarter we see a further increase, and the number of vacancies is now over 100,000, the highest in over ten years,” Tonje Køber, from the labour market and wages section at Statistics Norway, said.

Unemployment fell to its lowest level since 2009 in the first quarter, also, figures from the Labour Force Survey show. During the first quarter of 2022, unemployment in Norway was 3.1 percent.

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Statistics Norway noted that construction was one of the industries with the highest number of vacancies, but the number of job openings was not yet back to pre-pandemic levels.

In the administration and support sectors, more than 11,200 vacancies were registered. Hospitality and accommodation was another sector with a high number of openings throughout the beginning of the year. Across these sectors, 7,000 vacancies were listed.

More than 6,000 openings were also reported for the comms and information sectors. The professional, scientific, and technical industries had just under 8,000 roles available during this period.

The technical and scientific professions were also the industries with the highest growth in the number of vacancies.

The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) has previously said Norway needs more skilled workers. 

“We now see a strengthened and persistent imbalance between the competence that employers demand and the competence that jobseekers offer,” director of labour and welfare at NAV, Hans Christian Holte, said in a report on unemployment published last month.

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WORKING IN NORWAY

EXPLAINED: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement? 

Workers in Norway will undoubtedly have heard about collective bargaining agreements, especially if they are unionised. But what is meant by the term, and how do they work? 

EXPLAINED: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement? 

A good work-life balance, high wages, and generous vacation time are some of the many benefits that lure foreign workers to Norway. 

However, a lot of these rights aren’t protected by Norwegian laws. Instead, worker’s regulations are a mixture of agreements between the country’s trade unions and employers, and government legislature. 

Working life in the country can best be summarised as a system of tripartite cooperation where employers, employee organisations and the government work together on matters regarding employment in the country. This is also referred to as the ‘Norwegian Model’.

“Norway is a pretty unionised country, and the regulations surrounding working life in Norway are mainly based on a mixture of laws and collective agreements,” Jan Olav Andersen, union leader for the Electricity and IT Association (ELogIT Forbundet), explained to The Local.

READ MORE: What foreign residents in Norway should know about workers’ unions

To decide on the rules and regulations that will govern working life, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations every few years to develop collective bargaining agreements which determine everything from wages to parental leave. In Norwegian, these are called tariffavtale.

Collective bargaining agreements are negotiated throughout the spring, and negotiations for some of the most prominent sectors will regularly make the domestic headlines. Before the negotiations, unions will typically announce what they expect from the talks. This year, employee organisations have said that solid salary growth is expected, due to a high cost of living, inflation and low wage rises throughout the last few years. 

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates employment conditions, for example, stipulating that all employees with a particular job title must receive a salary within a specific pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

The breakdown of these negotiations leads to strikes and lock outs. Industrial action is a legal part of the Norwegian working model, provided they are announced and not unsanctioned. 

As a result of the strength of the collective bargaining agreements, more than two million people are part of unions. However, some unions have much higher membership rates than others. For example, the service industry has a much lower union membership than the municipal sector, which is heavily unionised. 

Workers in unions do not need to negotiate over salaries, and if a worker is in a union, their contract will be regulated by a collective bargaining agreement. Unions cover both the public and private sectors in Norway. 

“We negotiate collectively at both a national and a company level. If you are not a member of a union, then you will have to act on your own, as we used to say, ‘alone we beg, together we negotiate’,” Andersen said.  

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