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Taking affirmative action to recruit employees with immigrant background

16/04/2012 The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and twelve other state entities are participating in a pilot scheme involving moderate affirmative action to recruit employees with an immigrant background.

The target group for the scheme, which will run until the end of 2014, are immigrants from Europe outside of the EU/EFTA, Asia (including Turkey), Africa, Latin America and Oceania (except Australia and New Zealand).

”The NPD has surprisingly few employees with immigrant backgrounds in general, considering the industry we work with. We are now taking action to remedy this,” comments Gunnar Østebø, director of finance and expertise.

He believes that a diverse working environment is stimulating – and that this also applies to the NPD, like any other employer. More employees with a foreign background will reflect the diversity of Norway today, provide new impulses and contribute to develop the NPD as an organisation.

”Immigrants do not possess special expertise solely on the basis of their immigrant backgrounds. Everyone is an individual, and we must evaluate the expertise of each individual. However, the NPD is a very homogeneous workplace, and this is not how want to present ourselves.”

Moderate affirmative action means preferring applicants with immigrant backgrounds when applicants have approximately the same qualifications.

Many immigrants are struggling to find employment and the highest hurdle is getting to the interview stage, says Østebø:

”Our objective is to have at least eight employees with immigrant background by the end of 2014. The first step is to get more people with immigrant backgrounds to apply for our positions and to get more of them to the interview stage. We hope this will result in hiring.”

Employees in the civil service must have a clear command of Norwegian, both written and oral. This can be challenging.

”Some have poor Norwegian language skills. And as English is the industry working language, many skilled immigrants tend to apply there. This means that the civil service, which uses Norwegian as its working language, misses out on valuable expertise.”

NPD employees must be professionally and personally qualified, and the assumption is that the applicants that are best qualified will be hired. The applicants are evaluated in relation to their formal education, relevant work experience and personal suitability.

In 2008 and 2009, the NPD and eleven other state entities also participated in a similar pilot scheme to recruit people with immigrant backgrounds using affirmative action.


Updated: 17/04/2012