More informative data

Norway has one of the lowest rates of unemployment amongst EU and OECD countries. Statistic Sentralbyrå (SSB) and Nye arbeids- og velferdsetaten (NAV) are responsible for regularly collating these statistics but due to differences in data collection methods, there is a slight variation in the numbers reported by these agencies.

There is however a consensus in both, reporting that the unemployment rate is highest in the immigrant population (5.2%, Q2 2019) compared to the general population (1.5%, Q2 2019).

My interpolation suggests that of the 25,862 (September 2019) immigrants registered as unemployed by NAV, 9,569 of them have a higher education. If you consider that many university educated immigrants are less inclined to register with NAV, then this number becomes even larger. I had to interpolate because this number is not readily available in both the NAV and SSB statistics. My attempt to request the data from SSB was going to cost me a lot of money.

Despite the large presence of highly-skilled unemployed internationals in Norway, there are no clear and specific policies aimed towards this group to provide them with the resources they need to quickly ‘kom i jobb’, as my norskkurs teacher would say.

I once heard that job-seekers sometimes reduce their level of educational attainment because NAV caseworkers are likely to tell educated people that they can easily find jobs themselves and do not need NAV’s assistance. For those who persist, they are lumped together in courses with people who have little or no education. I would like to think that one of the reasons why there are few targeted policies is that the SSB and NAV statistics are not granular enough. A lot of important details are lost in the aggregates and so policy makers have to rely on news sources that often demonize immigrants.

At Inter-Nationals, we emphasize the “Nationals” because many immigrants, whether from the EU or not, will call Norway home for a long time. This means that targeted and relevant policies are one of the tools we need to ensure that people ‘kom i jobb’ quickly and begin to contribute economically and intellectually to society. And to achieve that, policy makers and other stakeholders will need better data. We therefore call on SSB and NAV to begin to collate and publish data on the unemployed (non)immigrants by their level of education, as well as other data that will be constructively shape public policy

A copy of this letter is sent to both NAV and SSB, but we encourage you to join the conversation and to share it on social media too so that it can reach other stakeholders who are in a position to make a difference. If you have an idea about how to make securing a job in Norway easier for highly skilled immigrants, we would love to hear from you.

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