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WORKING IN NORWAY

Why you should learn Norwegian even if you don’t need it for work

It's certainly possible to get a job in Norway without knowing the local language, but not making an effort with Norwegian could be holding you back at work and in your social life. 

Pictured is an office.
There are a number of reasons you should consider learning Norwegian, even if you don't need it for work. Pictured is an office. Photo by Redd on Unsplash

There are plenty of English-speaking roles in Norway, making it possible to get a job without learning the local language. 

“In Norway, many companies will accept English speaking candidates without any Norwegian skills. Examples are high-tech, and research companies, academia, hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and startups,” Karin Ellis, author and founder of Ellis Culture, which specialises in explaining the social norms and unwritten rules of the job market in Norway, told The Local. 

Now maybe is a better time than any to secure a job without language skills in Norway. Employers are struggling to attract qualified candidates and post job adverts in English to reach a bigger audience. 

READ MORE: Record job vacancies in Norway

However, not getting to grips with the local lingo can hold back foreigners in the long run, even if they secure a job that doesn’t require any Norwegian language skills. 

“It is very important that immigrant workers make an effort to learn Norwegian, even when they work for an English-speaking company. Until you speak the native language, you will never be fully accepted in the workplace or society,” Ellis said

The working life expert added that language-related conflicts could be common in workplaces, and even workers in highly-skilled companies may be reluctant to speak English. Additionally, not making an effort with the language, in the long run, could make it harder for you to gel with your coworkers. 

“Not making an effort to learn the language could negatively impact your relationships with your coworkers because they may reduce their contact with you. Even if they speak English with you in the workplace, it is quite likely that they will prefer to socialise with Norwegian speakers,” Ellis explained.  

Even if you only intend on working in Norway for a short while, it may be worth trying to get to grips with the language in case you have a change of heart and decide to stay in the country. 

“Immigrant workers who start on a temporary contract in an English-speaking workplace often stay in Norway much longer than originally planned. Then, several years later, when they decide to change jobs, they regret not learning Norwegian from the start. At that point, no employer will be impressed by the fact that they have not bothered to learn Norwegian,” Ellis said. 

On the flip side, learning Norwegian could help give your career in the country a welcome leg-up. 

“Learning Norwegian could boost your career because you will be able to communicate and collaborate with your colleagues on a deeper level and avoid misunderstandings. When employers select candidates, they emphasise people skills and the ability to collaborate,” the working life expert said. 

READ MORE: The dos and don’ts of writing a killer CV to impress Norwegian recruiters

Even just being able to engage in small talk in the native language could help your career prospects and put you in contention for promotions, according to Ellis. This is because chit-chat can help highlight your ability to communicate and work well with others. 

“To be a good leader in Norway, you need to contribute to a good working environment by taking an interest in your colleagues, supporting and sharing information with them. All of this is easier if you speak the language, as you are then showing that you have taken the step to become part of the Norwegian community and understand the culture,” Ellis said. 

 Taking the time to sharpen your language skills can also help you outside of work and help you make more friends. 

“Learning Norwegian will make it easier for you to get Norwegian friends simply by speaking with them in their language and understanding their jokes. You will then start to share experiences, news and perspectives with Norwegians. This will give you more common topics and interests for conversation and discussion, whether it is during the lunch break at work or at a private party,” Ellis said. 

What do The Local’s readers think? 

In a previous survey, The Local’s readers were asked whether they thought that foreign residents could speak Norwegian was important. 

The majority, 60 percent, said they thought it was, while 40 percent said it wasn’t. 

“I am a native English speaker working in Norway for a large international company. However, all internal meetings and documentation are in Norwegian. This demands that even international companies require Norwegian knowledge,” one reader, Susan, told our survey. 

Susan wasn’t alone in sharing her thoughts that learning the language was crucial. 

“Well, in many industries these days, it doesn’t matter much anymore as the working language is English. However, socially it is better to learn and is also very much appreciated by the Norwegians,” Arjen told the survey. 

READ ALSO: Tips for finding an English-speaking job in Norway

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For members

WORK PERMITS

Why your Norwegian work permit application might be rejected and how to avoid it

Norway is an attractive proposition for workers from all over the globe. However, some job hunters will need a residence permit for employees to move to the country. The UDI has revealed to The Local the most common reasons applications are rejected. 

Why your Norwegian work permit application might be rejected and how to avoid it

Whether it’s the high salaries, work-life balance, or generous benefits, people from all over the world are lured to Norway for work. 

Last year, more than 21,000 people moved to Norway for work, according to statistics from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). 

Of these, 7,348 were granted residence permits for work, while the rest were EEA nationals, which meant they didn’t need a work permit. 

To be granted a residence permit for work, you’ll most likely need to have been offered a job first, and the type of permit you apply for will depend on your line of work. You must meet several other requirements to be given a residence permit, such as a minimum salary or a set number of contracted hours. 

Unfortunately, not everyone who applies for a work permit is successful. And as an application fee is involved, it would be handy to know the most common reasons for applications being turned down so you can take steps to avoid them. 

Luckily, the UDI has provided The Local with the most common reasons for applications being denied. 

READ ALSO: How many people move to Norway for work, and where do they come from?

Skilled workers

The skilled worker permit was the type of residence card that was most commonly granted in 2021. Over half of the permits issued to those wanting to live and work in Norway were for skilled employees. 

According to the UDI, one of the most common reasons why applications for skilled workers are rejected is because they do not have the relevant qualifications. 

Typically, the qualifications required for a skilled worker visa are a degree or vocational training of at least three years at the upper secondary level for example, if you have trained or undergone an apprenticeship as a carpenter. For those with vocational qualifications, there must be a corresponding course in Norway. 

Your application may be rebuffed if you have a vocational qualification that isn’t offered at upper secondary school level in Norway. Additionally, if you are applying for a skilled worker permit, the job must be relevant to your skills.

Workers can also prove they are skilled through work experience and have obtained special qualifications gained through employment. However, the criteria for this are much stricter, and the UDI warns that many of these applications are rejected.

In Norway, there are many professions which are regulated. This means special qualifications and training are required to work in these fields. In some cases, you will need to have your qualifications approved to be eligible to work in them.

For example, electricians must get approval from the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection to work in the country. If you have a degree you can also have it verified too.  

Therefore it is imperative to ensure that you meet the qualification requirements. One way of doing this is to liaise with the employer that has offered you a job. You can also contact the UDI before applying to clear up the requirements and see if you meet them, or work with an immigration lawyer. 

You can read about the other requirements for applying for a skilled worker visa here

Seasonal workers 

There is also a permit available for seasonal workers, which is awarded to those performing a job that can only be done at certain times of the year. 

Applications for these permits are most commonly turned down because the UDI feels that the requirements for the job contract are not met. 

To be granted a seasonal worker permit, the job must be for seasonal work or as a holiday stand-in, and the pay and working conditions must not be poorer than what is considered normal in Norway. 

Furthermore, the offer must be for full-time work. A full-time job in Norway is one which has 37.5 hours in a standard working week. 

You can read more specifically about seasonal worker residence cards here

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