Half of Ukrainian refugees go straight into work after participating in a Norwegian introduction programme.
Karolina Tsymbala is one of the approximately 16.000 Ukrainians who are currently taking part in an introduction programme and learning Norwegian.
– “I have the opportunity to learn something and to be doing something in practice. I hope I get a job in the near future. That’s my main goal. A year ago, I couldn’t even think about it. Now it has become part of my life,” says Tsymbala.
The 23-year-old from the city of Lviv in Ukraine graduated as a nurse in 2022. While she is trying to get a job as a nurse in Norway, she is completing the introduction programme and working as an intern at a care centre.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn correct pronunciation, correct use of words and Norwegian culture. If there’s anything I don’t understand, I can ask Norwegians,” she says.
The government will tighten the regulations for Ukrainians travelling to Norway. At the end of November, figures from the UDI (The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) showed, Norway had received significantly more Ukrainians than our neighbouring countries. 50 % more Ukrainians in the previous 13 weeks than Denmark, Sweden and Finland combined.
To get more Ukrainians into work, the government has also sent a proposal out for a hearing of stakeholders, to make the introduction programme more work-oriented.
About half go directly into employment
Since the start of 2022, Norway has received more than 67.000 Ukrainian refugees. According to the Norwegian Directorate for Inclusion and Diversity (IMDi), most of them have agreed to participate in the introduction programme. But of the 4.700 who have completed the introduction programme, not all have found work yet. This is according to Halwan Ibrahim, assistant director of Imdi. “About half of them go directly into work after the introduction programme, and a certain proportion also goes into education,” says Ibrahim.
The half Ibrahim mentions includes participants who have moved on to work with a wage subsidy after completing the programme, and participants with work combined with education, as their reason for leaving the programme. Did they expect more than half of the participants to go straight into work after completing the programme?
“Of course, our ambition is for as many participants as possible to find work quickly. That’s an expectation we have for those who complete the programme,” says Ibrahim.
8 out of 10 in work, education, or job training
By mid-November, 4 % of programme participants had moved on to secondary or higher education. Around 30 % went on to qualification measures organised by NAV or the municipality with the aim of finding work.
“This means that a total of 80 per cent of those who have completed the programme have gone directly into employment, education or further qualification measures under the auspices of the municipality or NAV,” says Ibrahim.
The assistant director emphasises that the figures are preliminary, “The municipalities can change the figures for up to two months,” he says.
Need some language training
Initially, the intro programme lasts for six months. But participants can extend the programme, and many have done so. In mid-November, 86 per cent of those entitled to participate were registered for an extension of the programme. “The programme can last up to 12 months,” says IMDi.
Halwan Ibrahim says that language is the biggest challenge in getting Ukrainian refugees to work in Norway. “They need some language training to improve their chances of finding work.”
To be entitled to participate in the programme, you must be aged between 18 and 55, have been granted collective protection by the UDI and be resettled by agreement between IMDi and the municipality.
“Many of the Ukrainians who have come to Norway are children and young people under the age of 18 or over the age of 55, and are therefore not entitled to participate in the programme,” says Ibrahim.