A 48-year-old woman who emigrated to Norway from Iran in 1990 has finally found a job, after nearly 20 years in the country, the completion of two master’s degrees and 400 job applications.
Mina Khairalomoum told newspaper Dagsavisen last week that she was only called in to three job interviews during the past six years of searching for work, despite her high level of education. Norway’s economy was also very strong during most of the years of her search.
Her story points up the difficulties immigrants face of being accepted into the Norwegian workplace, even those who are highly educated. A recent study by state statistics bureau SSB noted that 15 percent of immigrants with higher education are employed in jobs that don’t required advanced degrees, compared to 4 percent of Norwegians.
Khairalomoum’s situation has been far from unique, and some immigrants have even changed their names to those sounding “more Norwegian,” in order to get past perceived prejudices in the initial hiring phase.
Khairalomoum finally got a break when telecoms firm Telenor made a conscious effort to recruit immigrants. She wound up as a project leader and says she’s thriving in the internationally oriented firm.
“My impression is that many of the Norwegian employers don’t dare hire foreigners into full-time jobs,” she told Dagsavisen. “They think it’s too risky, that the new employee won’t fit in.”
Øyvind Lind Petersen, information chief at employers’ organization NHO, shook his head when hearing Khairalomoum’s story. “There are various attitudes and prejudices throughout society, but this is way out of line,” he said. “There is only one thing employers should be looking for, and that’s competence. ”
Views and News staff