tirsdag 1. februar 2011

The Norwegian Bad Samaritans

Unemployment amongst Immigrants

I am faced with yet another amazing statistic.

First, during the last "uptime" in the economy, and therefore before the "speed bump" credit crunch here in Norway, there were 5000 unfilled positions in that uninspiring part of Norway, Østfold. Not known for more than agriculture, tourism and service industries. Yet there were 4000 unemployed of immigrant background registered "seeking work" at the national labour service NAV. Bunch of layabouts?

I blogged before, in Aust Agder while reading the local rag, unempolyment was up by 9% but amongst those with immigrant background, it was up three times that level.

Now on a recent tour to the town which boasts Agder Blad, Arendal, I buy the local smudgey snail-read and low and behold: unemployment amongst those with immigrant background is standing at 30%!

This included a given example of a young engineering graduate with 50 applications, who had a mixed norsk-islamabikakjan name, yet not even an interview.

The same was true for a nice pakistani girl I met in Oslo, who was getting CV help from my uncle-in-law. She was secondary school educated ( high school graduate) and wanted no more than a career in retail, starting at the bottom. She had lived all her 18 years in Norway. Yet she got no interviews.

When I talk to people in the public sector, or often family, there is fervent denial of "small racism". It seems the socialist middle classes, and also those in the oil industry who are used to multinational employees, are somewhat caught up in a false self-image of the lovely, liberal, peace-prize weilding norwegian : the good samaritan.

There is of course the well documented lack of worth ethic amongst Somalians, and norway has about 20 000 of them. However, in the North Sea, employers now run courses for managers dealing with the lack of work ethic for the 14-on, 12 hour days amongst the latest engineering graduates from the best universities in Norway. How they should be coaxed and normalised into the way it is. Pakistanis and the "Boat People" from vietnam have been amongst the hardest working first generation and now the second generation, espeically female according to one of my sources, are those who are driving the big management consultancies with hard work, sacrifice and innovation. The BI/NHH "boy's club" is no longer up for 14 hour days to get the job in the bag and done from all angles it would seem.

Is it really just the fact that out in the real world, away from universities and Quangos ( and even in some of them) that Norway is still a land of people who shy away from the new? Conservative with a small "c" to the point they daren't employ immigrants?

I have been offered enough temporary work to make me a bit sick of it, and work which "could lead somewhere" to just kind of start to give up a bit on pushing my career forward. However, this is not just a Norsk phenomenon: immigrants always have it tough, if they don't land with a case of dollar bills. They always have to try harder, both first, second and third generation, to get anywhere.

The trick is to utilise a social tool which is trite and superficial and false for people who come from anywhere but the rural bitty sticks of english speaking countries: that is to employ copious amounts of false modesty at interviews, and in general actually. This is one part of one key to getting accepted here- you play yourself down, you make yourself modest like the norsk, but maybe even a little bit more so. You swallow your own pride, sorry puke, in this false modesty. Like the answer to how's it going ? "Bare bare" ...only good.

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