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Working in Oslo
Find out how to get a job and work in Oslo
Working in Oslo offers great opportunities in a variety of industries, a strong economy, and much more. For instance, expats benefit from Norway’s social welfare system and a healthy work-life balance. Read our guide to working in Oslo for information on the economy, the job search, workplace etiquette, and more.
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Employment in Oslo
At a Glance:
- Oslo is the place to be for a good career, particularly in the fields of technology, as well as research and development.
- Though lots of jobs in Oslo require Norwegian language abilities, there are many international companies with English-speaking positions available.
A Healthy and Growing Economy: Facts and Figures
Norway has a diverse economy with one of the highest regional GDPs in Europe and makes up a significant percentage of the total global GDP (0.3% according to the IMF World Economic Outlook). Oslo contributes roughly 17% of Norway’s national GDP, and in 2008 the capital city even had the highest GDP per capita in Europe, according to research undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Indeed, expatriates working in Oslo find themselves in the most densely populated municipality at the economic center of Norway.
More than 350,000 people are currently working in Oslo. All in all, about 1.3 million people live in Oslo’s urban region (Oslo and Akershus County). The local unemployment rate in this region was at 3.5% for Oslo and 2.7% for Akershus County in August 2016, and the entire region had about 5,000 job openings in February 2016.
Oslo County was also ranked among the top 20 in the fDi Magazine report on European Cities and Regions of the Future 2016/17 and comes in first place as the best large European city for human capital and local lifestyle.
Oslo’s Biggest Industries
Oslo is home to some of the most important business sectors in Norway. Not only is it a great location in terms of its close proximity to the sea, it also offers an excellent infrastructure. In this section, we would like to introduce you to some of the city’s most important sectors.
Norway’s history is intrinsically linked to its ports and the sea, and the country has great maritime expertise and potential. Oslo’s prime location and access to the sea make it a global player in the field of maritime knowledge and a very attractive European destination for those who wish to work in this industry.
The maritime industry is extremely lucrative for Oslo, with the whole Oslofjord region having an annual turnover of 155.2 million NOK (about 19 million USD) in 2015. Although this was a slight decrease from 2014’s 158 million NOK turnover, the maritime sector is still going strong and remains one of Oslo’s crowning jewels. In the greater Oslofjord region, there around 21,000 employees in the maritime industry (2015 figures). About 8,000 of them work in and around the capital city.
Some of the Oslofjord region’s prime maritime subsectors include: shipping companies, such as offshore and deep-sea shipping, drilling companies, financial and legal maritime services, technical services, trade and commerce, logistics, maritime equipment production, namely docks and shipbuilding.
The region is also home to the headquarters of many maritime companies — whether it comes to cargo, passenger tourist vessels, or smaller fishing organizations. Det Norske Veritas is just one example, located in Høvik, close to Oslo’s center. DNV is a major global company, providing — among other things — classification services in the shipping industry. Other important companies in the region, or further along the southern coast, include Fred. Olsen & Co, Wilhelmsen Maritime, and IMS
Of course, Oslo also has an important seaport, which is home to about 900 companies. The port greets an average of six million passengers per year travelling to Norway by boat. Large shipping companies, as well as insurance providers and ship brokers, are based here, too. Oslo Havn (Oslo Port Authority) accommodates cargo ships, local island-hopping ferries, and great passenger cruise ships from Denmark or Germany.
Research and Development
Oslo’s research and development sector mostly focuses on advancements in energy production. Due to Norway’s experience with hydropower and offshore petroleum development, this does not come as a surprise. The majority of research institutions are located in close proximity to the University of Oslo and focus on renewable energy and environmentally friendly petroleum-related development.
Other important institutions in the field of research and development are the Norwegian Geotechnical Research Institute, the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. However, it is the Oslo Science Park which is the leading business incubator in the region. Located in the heart of Oslo’s academic scene, between Oslo University Hospital and the University of Oslo, it focuses on environmental technology and is home to over 250 companies and research organizations.
Technology and Communications
Norway is considered one of the world’s leading information societies and has a highly developed mobile market. The Oslo region is a key location in the development of new information and communication technology products, due to the strong R&D (research and development) environment and the unique expertise of Oslo’s workforce. Aside from new business start-ups which have settled in Oslo in recent years, many expats working in Oslo have found an occupation at international companies such as Google or Microsoft.
If you are curious about working in Oslo’s ICT sector, you will be happy to learn that there are quite a few companies which contribute to the growing industry in Oslo. Kongsberg Gruppen, for example, which provides — among other services — international sustainable ocean technology and software, and Nordic Semiconductor, producing ultra-low power wireless solutions, are just a few examples. Oslo is also home to the headquarters of Telenor, which is one of the fastest growing mobile communications services providers worldwide, and the most popular telecommunications provider in Norway.
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Oslo’s Business World
The Job Search Is Not Easy, and It’s in Norwegian
Finding a job in Oslo can be difficult, since the city has become increasingly popular in recent years. For expats, the main obstacle when searching for work is probably the language barrier — fluency, or at least some proficiency, in Norwegian is required for most positions. If you are not capable of speaking the local language, finding a job in Oslo won’t be easy.
If possible, try to pick up some Norwegian before moving to Oslo. This will help you when you begin your actual job search. Recommendations and personal contacts are essential, as many positions are not advertised and are only applied for through the people you know. It may also be worth getting in touch directly with companies in your industry and contacting your business network in Oslo, if you have one.
This online course, Norwegian on the Web, is a good way to learn some basic Norwegian and might help you get ahead when you start looking for a job. The course has ten free language lessons aimed at beginners.
Resources for Jobseekers
When it comes to the traditional way of searching for a job, NAV (Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration) is a good place to turn to. The NAV holds the largest vacancy database for Norway, as well as advice and information for future expats, regarding employment contracts, pay, and working hours. English-speaking job placements can be found by searching for the term “English”.
Another option is EURES (the European Employment Services), featuring over one million job vacancies across Europe and providing advice for jobseekers. Available positions in Oslo may also be advertised on finn.no, Jobs in Oslo and in local newspapers, such as Aftenposten.
Below are several smaller useful websites for jobseekers in Oslo. However, most of them are available in Norwegian only:
- Jobbsafari.no (available in English)
Doing Business: Be Professional and Modest
Egalitarianism is highly valued in the Norwegian business world and culture. If you want to successfully do business in Oslo, you need to make sure not to come off arrogant or overconfident about yourself. Some expats, for instance, may be tempted to flaunt their status and position within a company more openly as this is what they are used to. Your new colleagues in Oslo are likely to find this rude and strange. You should try to refrain from this type of behavior, however, and remain modest, instead of showing off your financial status.
Doing business in Oslo is usually quite informal and casual. Still, your business partners are likely to remain on a surname basis with you. It’s also important to begin each business meeting and always greet your business partners with a firm handshake. The style of communication in Oslo’s business world is rather easygoing in everyday business as well as during meetings and negotiations. However, as in every business setting you need to remain professional and respectful while keeping up with the straight-forward communication style and direct nature of the Norwegians.
Social Security System
Expats working in Oslo enjoy the benefits of Norway’s National Insurance Scheme from their first day of work if they contribute towards the scheme. This allows coverage of national health services and contributions to Norway’s pension scheme, among other benefits like unemployment allowance or parental leave. If you’d rather not make any contributions to Norway’s social security system, you need to prove that you are covered under a similar scheme in your home country.
You should keep in mind, though, that different rules apply to EU or EEA nationals and to non-EEA nationals. Citizens of EU or EEA countries join the National Insurance Scheme automatically if they have not been posted from their home country as an employee on a short-term basis. In the latter case, you cannot claim NAV healthcare benefits but must refer to the health coverage from your home country.
If you are an expat from outside the EU or EEA, check whether your home country has a social security agreement with Norway. For more information on social security agreements, please refer to our article on Working in Norway.
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