The value of recruiting and retaining international competence in Agder

What motivates companies to recruit internationals? What strategies and support have companies put in place to address the challenges of integrating international newcomers? What needs do internationals have and what challenges do they face in trying to settle down in Agder?  

These are just a few of the many pertinent questions that were raised at the recent Recruit Project  workshop held at Welcome Hub Agder. The research project is aimed at addressing the challenges of the labour market in Agder through cross-sector collaboration. The end goal is to enhance the region’s attractiveness to and competitiveness for skilled professionals. 

As such, the workshop focused on the journeys, needs and challenges faced by companies as they try to navigate the complicated process of attracting and more importantly retaining international talent. At the same time, the workshop also shined the spotlight on the obstacles that internationals themselves face in trying to settle down and integrate in Agder.

In attendance were presenters and representatives from several companies and organisations in Agder and Oslo including Agdering, Agder Fylkeskommune, Morrow Batteries, Norse Atlantic Airways, Gard, Byrådsavdeling for kultur og næring (Oslo), Cisco (Oslo), Invest in Agder, Eyde-klyngen, Hands Fund, Innoventi, MHWirth, Noroff, Tekna, The Network Sørlandet, UiA, Viking and also internationals and accompanying spouses. 

Key takeaways from discussions at the workshop on the challenges of recruiting international talent are that:

  • current recruitment processes are often outdated and follow traditional methods which translate to not including international talent in companies’ search and/or selection process
  • there is a lack of discussions around the value of hiring international talent, at both a local and national level
  • language barriers pose significant challenges for internationals who work for companies where the main language used at the workplace is Norwegian
  • most companies have limited in-house resources to provide settlement support for new hires

Internationals, on the other hand, highlighted two major challenges that they face when settling down in Agder:

  • finding employment for accompanying spouse
  • establishing a social network 

The lack of job opportunities for spouses and concerns about the overall well-being of the family are the two push factors for internationals leaving Agder. 

Solutions offered to address these challenges included:

  • implementing an onboarding programme for internationals and their families 
  • introducing a buddy programme for new hires within the organisation 
  • organising social events and activities outside of working hours

Attendees left with a better grasp of a wide range of complex issues and received valuable insights and some clear and actionable steps to help improve the hiring and retaining of internationals. If a diverse and inclusive workforce is indeed the goal, then it is now up to society at large to find solutions and more importantly effectuate these solutions with sincerity and some urgency. 

If you would like to know more about how your business can get involved in this project, contact Ingvild Jensen at Agdering


Kamachi Ruthramurthi-Nilssen

Welcome Hub Agder is a programme operated by Inklusiv Agder AS in collaboration with the Arendal Municipality, as an integrated part of the community to welcome international talent and their families to Arendal and Agder.
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