‘Norwegians are being experienced as reserved and hard to establish social relationships with’

This is a conclusion mentioned in an article on the Norwegian web site digi.no about new research carried out by Oxford Research on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion and NHO.

Norwegian companies have a great need for qualified IT personnel, and Norway is not able to cover this need. Companies have tried for several years to attract IT people from abroad, but that is not easy. Bureaucratic rules cause up to 6 months delay while applications are being dealt with at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Because of this Norway is in danger of losing good IT personnel, even though the need is greater than ever before. The secretary general of ICT Norway, Per Morten Hoff, estimates that Norway will need 10 000 foreign IT experts in 2008.

The research carried out by Oxford Research confirms that higher educated immigrants have a hard time with coping with the Norwegian society.

‘We have discovered a considerable gap between the expectations and the actual experiences’, according to CEO Harald Furre of Oxford Research to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Lacking information in English makes it hard for foreigners to establish themselves. When one has just arrived in Norway it is necessary to establish an internet connection, a bank account, a doctor, school and perhaps kindergarten. But when information is not available in English, this is not an easy task.

The research determines that it is necessary to establish more openness, more English, empty slots in international schools, shorter processing times of work and residence visa, and better information on cultural activities.

Per Morten Hoff now hopes that the so-called ‘Blue Card‘ of the EU will help out. This card will give the head of personnel in an IT company the chance to approve a work permit request from an IT expert from, for example, the Ukraine. This will shorten the long waiting period at the UDI. At the same time, it becomes the responsibility of the company to make sure they get the skills they request. If they get someone who doesn’t know anything about SAP, then it is useless to complain to other instances.

Hoff mentioned to digi.no that Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion Bjarne Håkon Hansen wants to introduce the system in 2008. Other EU countries already have good experiences from the system, that became operational in the end of October 2007.

‘It is clear that a head of personnel of IBM will have greater expectations & requirements to find the right IT skills than a employee of UDI’, states Hoff to digi.no.

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