Employment Outlook: Norway
by Mary Anne Thompson
Considered the “promised land” for the unemployed of Europe, Norway boasts low unemployment, high salaries and continued job creation. Norway’s stable currency and abundant natural resources, especially oil, has helped shelter the country from the debt crisis plaguing Europe.
As a member of the European Economic Area, but not the European Union or the Eurozone, Norway seems to have escaped the economic trouble plaguing many European countries tied to the euro currency. The Norwegian krone has held its own over the past few years. Today, the country’s GDP growth rate is 2.6 percent, its unemployment sits at 3.2 percent, and the Norwegian people are the third wealthiest in the world, according to the Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse.
Norway owes much of its wealth to the vast reserves of oil and gas owned by the citizens of the country. The oil industry directly employs roughly 40,000 people in core extraction activities. More than 250,000 are employed in broad petroleum-related activities, a significant factor in this nation of nearly 5 million people.
Norway’s 3.2 percent unemployment rate is a standout in Europe, with the jobless average for the EU 27 counties averaging 10.2 percent. In fact, Norway is viewed as a “promised land” for employment for the vast numbers of unemployed throughout the economically struggling countries in Europe, particularly for youth and those from southern countries, such as Greece and Spain. The Norwegian Minister of Labour recently invited qualified applicants throughout Europe to apply for the more than 69,000 recent job openings. However, the emphasis is on encouraging primarily highly trained and immediately employable people to immigrate to Norway. Currently, foreign nationals make up around 15 percent of the Norwegian workforce.
Hiring to Continue in Norway, Salaries High
Norway’s envious unemployment rate is expected to remain stable, according to the Prime Minister. More than 70,000 new jobs are anticipated to be created in both the public and private sectors during the next two years. The Norwegian labor force numbers 2.61 million, of which services comprise 76 percent, industry 21.1 percent and agriculture 2.9 percent.
Norway’s employers are among the most optimistic in Europe, when it comes to adding new staff. A recent Manpower survey of employers in Norway shows them continuing to hire new employees, but at a moderate pace. This may be, in part, because Norway has low unemployment and companies are close to being fully staffed.
Industries with strongest hiring outlook:
Regional hiring outlook:
Greater Oslo +14%
The average monthly salary for all salaried Norwegians is 38,100 NOK, up 3.8 percent from the previous year. The highest paid 10 percent earned on average 75,100 NOK per month. Corporate directors and CEOs made an average monthly wage of 70,900 NOK.
Norway’s Major Industries
The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is Norway’s second-largest land-based industry by revenue. Norway’s high-tech companies are in telecommunications, hardware, software, and industrial electronics products, and provide consultancy services. With a workforce of nearly 117,000, Norway’s ICT sector represents around 4.8 percent of the country’s total workforce.
Trade portal Nortrade characterizes Norwegians as "among the most wired people on the planet." More than 92 percent of Norway’s households have Internet access, and 34 percent have mobile broadband access according to Statistics Norway. ICT supports the Norwegian edge in the world economy, while maintaining the country’s standard of living and high salaries.
According to a recent article by engineering society IEEE, there is a ‘war for talent’ in Europe. In hot demand are IT specialists with skills in cloud computing, smartphones, and other mobile applications and tablet computing. Technical needs for social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, have also ignited a need for new technology skills sets. Norway, in particular, faces a critical shortage of IT professionals.
Statistics Norway reports that quarterly IT industry job vacancies averaged 3,100 last year, up from 2,300 the previous year.
Full-time employees in the information sector earn on average 581,000 NOK annually, according to Statistics Norway. This was an annual increase of nearly 5 percent. The information sector is divided into two main industries: the ICT sector and the content sector. The ICT sector consists of the production and sale of computers and computer parts, design, production and sale of software, and operating companies for computer networks and telephones. The content sector includes publishing companies, advertising agencies, news agencies, television and radio production, and movies.
Norway's premier global position in oil and gas exploration and production is good news for professional engineers and research and development scientists. In addition, Norway’s process, maritime and renewable energy industries are all clamoring for skilled engineers, within all disciplines, to run their growing businesses.
While hiring of engineers dropped off during the height of the recession, recruiting has taken off again. After serious downsizing, companies across Europe are ramping up their engineering staff—and finding themselves in a ‘war for talent.’ Graduate and experienced engineers in all disciplines are being heavily recruited, and Norway is leading the way.
Norway is facing a shortage of engineers. Its employers are definitely feeling the crunch as they compete for top engineers. Norway is currently short 16,000 engineers, more than twice as many as last year. Particularly critical is the demand for civil and petroleum engineers. In the oil and gas sector alone, more than 92 percent of employers are having a difficult time filling key engineering slots.
In the short term, Norway is importing skilled engineers from throughout Europe. However, the need is critical for Norway to ramp up engineering education efforts. There is a global shortage of skilled experienced engineers and of engineering students, according to UNESCO. Norway has seen a decrease of 5 to 10 percent of enrollment in engineering disciplines since the late 1990s in the country’s universities and technical schools. This could spell future trouble for a country dependent on technical industries, particularly in energy production and maritime industries.
Statistics Norway reports that quarterly technical sector job vacancies averaged 5,000 last year, up from 4,100 the previous year.
TEKNA releases an annual salary survey. The mean average salary for employees in the private sector was just more than 434,000 NOK annually, in federal government just under 400,000 NOK and in municipal government 413,000 NOK.
Accounting and Finance
Norway’s financial services industry held up extremely well during the global financial crisis, according to Finance Norway (FNO), a newly formed consolidation of Norway’s major financial associations. Norway’s banking system avoided the worst of the crisis, partly due to stimulus measures enacted by the government to ensure liquidity and stability. In fact, the government ended up earning a profit on their investment.
The financial services industry fared well during the recent economic pullback and looks to be a leader in Norway’s economic recovery. According to the most recent Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, employers in the finance and business services sector are planning to hire at a steady pace, with 15 percent planning to increase their staff.
Financial regulators are in demand in Norway, as the global economic crisis has increased the need for skilled financial watchdogs. Particular talents sought include bank regulators, financial analysts and macroeconomists.
Statistics Norway reports that financial services job vacancies averaged 1,100 last year, about the same as the previous year.
There are approximately 43,000 full-time employees in the financial sector, according to Statistics Norway. The annual salary averages 643,300 NOK, up 6.6 percent from the previous year.
Business Management and Marketing
Jobs for management and marketing executives are abundant. Norway is known worldwide for the quality and innovation of the design of products produced. This growth industry offers employment potential for skilled marketers and visionary managers.
Norwegian industry comprises 360,000 private sector enterprises (including publicly owned companies). The majority of newly established enterprises are within professional, scientific and technical activities.
There are 1.6 million employed by private sector companies and 780,000 employed in the public sector.
More than half of employees in private sector companies are in enterprises with more than 100 employees, although these enterprises represent only 0.5 percent of the total.
Marketing professions are evolving around the world, as new social and mobile media channels change the way goods and services are advertised and promoted. Jobseekers would be well advised to polish their social media networking skills and credentials.
There are approximately 122,000 workers in Norway’s health care fields. Norway’s national health sector is organized in three main parts, in addition to private health services:
Municipal health services
Regional health authorities
Public dental health care
Nortrade, the official Norwegian trade portal, features the health care and biotechnology sector as a key growth area of the Norwegian economy.
The demand for health care workers is high in Norway, particularly for dentists and physicians with specialties in psychiatry, anesthesiology and gastroenterology. Norway is also one of the few countries in Europe with a critical shortage of general practitioners. In addition, a lack of skilled nurses is being felt throughout the country.
According to Statistics Norway, the majority of the employees in the health care field are nurses or physicians. Nearly three-quarters of all employees in health care facilities are women. Full-time sector employees averaged 40,700 NOK monthly, excluding overtime pay. This was an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.
Full-time employed nurses earn on average 34,800 NOK monthly, a yearly increase of 3.6 percent. In contrast, full-time employed physicians earn on average 63,700 NOK monthly, up 3.1 percent annually.
Norway has fared well over the last few years, with low unemployment and steady job creation. Referred to as the “promised land” for employment for the young of Europe and foreign workers alike, its future appears steady with the need for skilled workers growing each quarter.
Mary Anne Thompson is the Founder and President of Going Global, Inc. (www.goinglobal.com) a subscription database service that contains career and employment information for more than 80 locations. More than one million users enjoy Going Global’s unique content, which is researched in-country by local career experts and updated annually. She is also an author, lecturer and frequent guest on various media outlets, including NBC and CNN International. Previously, Mary Anne served as an attorney and advisor to President Ronald Reagan in the White House.