Viking: Tell me how Global Talent week began and its goals.
Bjørn Christian Nørbech: Norway is getting record numbers of immigrant workers, professionals and students. It’s a big, important topic. Norway is lacking 10,000 engineers and sales people. We are taking a look at Norway’s role in the global labor market. Talented people can work in many places, such as the United States, Shanghai, Dubai and Mumbai. But why would they come to Norway? It’s all about having the global perspective on Norway’s role and the sustainable competitiveness of Norwegian industry. We’re looking at how attractive is it to come here and to what extent are we able to retain the talents and integrate them so they can enjoy themselves and be productive here.
There’s a need for such a meeting place for the stakeholders of global mobility management. This is our third year. The first year we had 150 participants, second year more than 200. It used to be a one-day conference. It’s not enough. We are expanding it to a two-day conference and adding the career fair the first day. The companies looking for the talents can actually meet the talents here in Oslo.
V: What companies and organizations will be represented at the career fair, and what can visitors expect when they attend?
BCN: Right now we are in the process of approaching the companies. We are getting the co-organizers in place: the University of Oslo, University College of Applied Sciences, City of Oslo, Sons of Norway is probably going to join in as a co-organizer. It will be companies from the private and public sector that are looking for the talents.
V: What kind of global professionals is Norway most interested in attracting?
BCN: Engineering and IT are the two areas where there’s the biggest need. The business sector in general needs to build relationships across boarders. Understanding the cross-cultural and globalized way of doing business is necessary today. You need not only to have formal competence, but also the global mindset and intercultural competence for success.
V: What are some ways that Norway can attract and embrace talent from around the world?
BCN: Norway’s politicians can decide on laws to promote Norway as an attractive place to come not only as a tourist but to work. We’ve had much more focus on attracting tourists than attracting global talents. It’s increasingly been coming up on the agenda of politicians. Immigrants to Norway traditionally have been thought of as asylum seekers. But this is turning it around to see what Norway needs and seeing people as resources and talents. We want to change the Norwegian perspective on immigrants.
There’s a Norwegian saying that it’s typical for a Norwegian to be good. Yes, but you don’t have to be Norwegian to be good. There are good people in lots of countries. We should open up and be ready to attract them. They are sought-after in many countries. To have sustainable competiveness, that’s what we need. That needs to happen on a political, community and city levels. Lots of stakeholders need to work together with a shared understanding of the current situation and how it will develop in the years to come. That will make a difference. The mobility forum is a meaningful place to discuss this and develop the ideas and solutions in this area.
V: Who comes to speak at the events?
BCN: So far we’ve had participants and speakers from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States and France. Someone is coming this year from the University of Tennessee. Everything is held in English to be that area where people from everywhere can participate. We’ve already had participants signing up from UK, Denmark and Austria.
V: Tell us about the virtual career fair.
BCN: We’re also planning a virtual career fair where people from around the world can connect with Norwegian employers. First time this will be hosted in Norway. We’re now approaching the companies. There has been other counties that have done it. It’s been tested and works great to attract global talents from all over the world. We hope we’ll be done early November, early December. It’s like a physical career fair, but it’s on your computer. You can enter a main hall. You choose different rooms that have different companies. Engage in chats, video conferences, pickup info about the company and their job postings. You can find more information at globalmobility.no.
V: How will your relationship with NorwayConnects.org benefit your cause?
BCN: We want to connect with the global talents out there who are interested in Norway. There are so many Norwegians in the United States and Canada. Perhaps some would like to come work in Norway. It’s an obvious synergy. From our perspective, it’s great to have Sons of Norway and NorwayConnects helping us reach out to Norwegian global talents. It will be a fruitful cooperation.
V: Will there be companies or groups at the events who can help young professionals navigate the visa process or other processes required for a foreigner to work in Norway?
BCN: With the career fair, we offer a service package called Norwegian in a Box. It includes a beginners course in Norwegian, cultural sensitivity training, skiing lessons and paperwork (for a work permit). This will help companies trying to recruit people from around the world. We want to make the accessibility easier for the global talents.