Mandatory interviews give more jobs to immigrants

All central government employers have had to interview qualified non-western job applicants since 2002. This has improved immigrants chances at getting work in the public sector significantly.

"Norway cannot afford to have civil engineers driving trams," says state secretary Wenche Lyngholm at the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform.

The aim of the reform was to insure that the government got qualified applicants and to give immigrants the work they were qualified for.

In 2007 some 32 percent of non-westerners who are interviewed get the job. The year before the figure was 22 percent. Prior to 2002 only 2 percent got the job they applied for.

"This is a step in the right direction, but it’s still too difficult for immigrants to get work, even if they have the right qualifications," says Steven Meglitsch who works for a liaison agency between immigrants and the Norwegian authorities.

He believes that each employer should set targets for hiring immigrants and that attitudes need to be changed actively. "We need to repeat many of the measures used 30 years ago to integrate women into the labour market," says Meglitsch.

"The Ministry already has specific targets figures for the employing people with disabilities. We will evaluate how well this works before we consider similar targets for immigrants," says Lyngholm.