Integration – does anyone still use dictionaries?

Posted: May 24, 2011 in employment, ideas
Tags: , , ,

There is an article in Aftenposten today that really gets my goat.

Quite simply, it is the usual grumblings from the employers in Norway that they need more people and cannot fill the positions that they have vacant.

This is utterly ridiculous for a number of reasons and I can’t help but feel that the problem is of their own making.

There are a huge number of foreigners in Norway who are educated and qualified to take many of these positions, but they find that their education, experience or other qualifications are not recognised.  There a many taxi drivers with medical qualifications, professors and other highly sought after professions that have found out that it is near pointless to apply for a job ‘above their station’ in this, the ‘worlds best country to live in’ (best for who I ask).

Other articles that have appeared of late include from a millionaire businessman, who, on the back of the efforts of his predominately foreign employee, has gotten stinking, minted rich, where he complains about foreigners being a drain on the welfare system.

The FRP party (sort of the Norwegian mad hatters and stark raving loony party) has even gone out and said that all Muslims are a drain on Norwegian society, they don’t integrate and are just here for the benefits.  I find that really disturbing and quite frankly terrifying.

Perhaps employers need to revisit their hiring systems as other articles talk about how most Norwegians are bored in their jobs (not challenged or given room for growth) and are not at all loyal to employers, are highly mobile and are looking for jobs that pay more.  It would seem that Money is the great motivator which bodes ill for employers as the race to secure staff mutates into a wages war, and nobody benefits from that in the long term.

I cannot help but wonder if the H.R managers out there have become autocratic and lazy, only  interested in candidates for positions based on wallpaper degrees and if ‘all the boxes’ are ticked when evaluating seekers for positions.  Where is the human element?  Look beyond the surface and ask yourself, can this person do the job?  are they made of the ‘right stuff?’

Most positions within organisations will require some training to get any new hire up to speed on systems and operating practices that are particular to that employer.

If we have a huge amount of people out their not being able to rise up to their potential, who perhaps need a bridging course to fully qualify them in a area of expertise, if  we have large groups that are not integrating, or participating in society, perhaps making generalised accusations and pointing fingers, stirring up resentment and fear are not the most productive manner in which to address the problem?

Many of us foreigners meed xenophobia and discrimination everyday.  A common defence mechanism is anger and to return the xenophobic attitude, with us often ridiculing those natives we see are given the opportunities denied to us.  Again, not really a good outcome, no winners, just a shit slinging match.

Many immigrants for radically different cultures, whose standard of living is not comparable to that of their ‘new home’, with language and religious beliefs that can present challenges to incorporate into a new societies values and moral tolerances can find the employment market so scary, closed to them and depressing that they just give up.  With a social welfare system that is there for those who cannot help themselves, why shouldn’t they.  If they are closed out of the market, how exactly should they help themselves?

In my home country, we once embarked on a massive engineering project, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme.  For that project, we needed engineers with tunnelling and hydroelectric experience so we looked abroad to Norway.  We needed thousands if workers, labourers, not highly skilled, but they would learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ as they went.   This attracted thousands of people from all over the globe.  Diverse cultures, nationalities, religions (remember back in those days, Catholics and Protestants were miles away from each other).  These people worked side by side and learnt the language, the culture, what Australia had to offer and what it expected of its citizens.  Concepts of responsibility, accountability, the ‘fair go’ attitude that many Aussies cite as being a cultural cornerstone of our land and most important, the opportunity to contribute, to pitch in and be part of something.

Many of these immigrants became Aussies, gaining citizenship and ‘integrating’ into Australis. They ‘integrated’ which I think means that they added their cultural uniqueness, their differences into the great melting pot that any dynamic society is and made it richer.  Broader, more rounded, better equipped for challenges that lay ahead, innovative and tolerant.

Now the thought crosses my mind that in the ‘Worlds richest country’, the roads are a laughing stock and more akin to middle ages goat tracks, the railway system here simply does not work, schools are in a shameful state of disrepair, Hospitals are understaffed  and other major infrastructure is in such a state that it does not fulfil the needs of a modern society.

Here is an idea that occurred to me;

  • For unskilled immigrants, successful asylum seekers without education, those who need time to learn the language, the culture and the rules that apply here, a program of induction whereby they are given a position on major construction projects in regards to infrastructure.
  • They are provided accommodation, have education along the way and earn a pay-check (an important element in self pride and self image).
  • If they locate alternative employment along the way, they are free to leave and pursue it, but they are not accorded some of the other benefits that this program entails.
  • As infrastructure is a national project, it is all over the country, not just in the cities.  This could stimulate smaller, local economies and encourage settling in the districts.
  • Career advisers and coaches could be utilised to document what education people have, apply aptitude tests and identify where people have potential.
  • I always have believe that people are much better at doing things they genuinely like and enjoy.
  • The idea is that it is a rolling arrangement, with the projects moving along the route of a highway or rail line, that people will use it as a springboard into society and that they will have a sense of ownership and participation in the culture that they now call home.  This is not jobs for life, but a tool to empower integration and participation.

Integration is not the need to give up your identity, your history and your cultural roots.  It is the art of making those compatible with the culture you are now part of.  For those who are natives, integration is recognising how immigrants differences can be a valuable resource and catalyst for progress, change and evolution of a culture. 

Anyway, that is that little rant out of my system.

hope you all have a great day, back to trawling the net for a job (perhaps I should change my name?)

  1. Hello.This post was extremely fascinating, particularly because I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last Monday.

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