Though it is the second richest nation in the world in terms of per capita income, Norway is now looking to Turkey for workers to fill the gaps left by its ageing population.
In a joint press conference with Labor Minister Faruk Çelik in Ankara, Norwegian Labor and Social Inclusion Minister Bjarne Hakon Hanssen announced on Thursday that Norway is planning to make changes to its immigration laws to allow it to host 100,000 Turks to fill jobs there.
Norwegians enjoy an average per capita yearly income of $45,000, around five times higher than Turks, while the average monthly income in Norway is around $4,000. But Norway is currently experiencing a serious lack of employees in a variety of sectors.
Hanssen said Norway's first move would be to lift some of the strict aspects of current Norwegian immigration laws, thereby opening up the way for much-needed Turkish employees. Minister Çelik said he had told Hanssen that within six months, 100,000 qualified employees from Turkey could be gathered. Çelik said his ministry was engaged in research on the Norwegiian market and that the sectors for which employees are needed will be clarified soon.
Minister Çelik also commented on Norway's relatively small population, noting that it amounted to around the same level as Ankara's. But he also pointed out its high average per capita income. He added, "There is no unemployment problem in Norway."
Hanssen pointed to the problems currently being experienced in various markets in Norway, noting that managers in Norway often ask him "What can I do, where can I find employees?" Hanssen asserted that qualified laborers from Turkey could be a great contribution to the Norwegian business market. He explained: "We plan on informing our companies in Norway about Turkey. There are many well-qualified but unemployed people in Turkey, and we plan on telling Norwegian businesses about these opportunities in Turkey."
Çelik said the large İş-Kur labor union currently has nearly 450,000 qualified laborers looking for work. Çelik also noted that while Norway had up until now largely filled its employment needs with people from Western Europe, the ageing demographics of Western Europe too were now forcing Norway to look elsewhere. The labor minister said there were currently around 13.5 million employable people in the 18-29 age range in Turkey.
Source: Today's Zaman (English)