Listhaug believes many refugees are not getting what they need

Sylvi Listhaug, Immigration, Progress PartySylvi_Listhaug,Progress Party, Photo: Ilja C. Hendel

What the municipalities are offering to the refugees fall short of their intended goals, says Minister of Integration, Sylvi Listhaug (Frp).


Refugees undergo an introductory program in which they learn Norwegian and receive help to get them quickly out to the workplace or into educational programs, when they move to respective municipalities.

“We have to look at the whole scheme, how to turn it around to get better results,” Listhaug told NTB after a meeting with her Nordic colleagues. They exchanged experience about resettlement and employment of refugees and immigrants.

Listhaug refers to the messages from Gamvik municipality, where Syrian refugees say they have had to teach each other Norwegian because lack of teachers.

“We give municipalities considerable resources for integration programs but we see that quality is not meeting the goals. We must do something about it,” she says to NTB.

Let them use their education

Listhaug believes Norway is relatively good in terms of getting refugees out into the workforce, compared with neighboring countries. But it’s far from good enough, she emphasizes, and shows, for example, that refugees are not able to use the qualifications they already have from home.

“We are not good with taking care of those who actually have an education and allow them to use it in the Norwegian labor market. They must be able to build on what they have before, instead of using them for things they are over-qualified for,” she says.

In order to ask Norwegian employers to utilize these people at their skill levels and qualifications also requires that the refugees must be knowledgeable in the Norwegian language in order to be eligible for the Norwegian job market.

“These things are important, both the effort you put in and the results you receive,” says Listhaug.

Resolve resettlement policy

At the meeting, ministers from Denmark, Finland and Iceland participated. Sweden was represented by State Secretary Anders Kessling from the Ministry of Labor. Listhaug made a commotion during her day trip to Rinkeby in Stockholm during the Norwegian election campaign, but only made for a short comment from Listhaug at the start of the meeting, according to Kessling.

“We have said what we need to say about this issue. We would like to meet with our Nordic colleagues, but we did not want to be part of an election campaign in one country,” he said.

He believes that the image that Listhaug has created of the conditions in Sweden is oversimplified and rejects that the Swedes are just sweeping integration problems under the carpet, as the Norwegian Immigration minister has claimed.

Kessling told those at the meeting of the new settlement policy that was introduced last year. Previously, refugees in Sweden could settle where they wanted, unlike Norway and Denmark. Now it is controlled so that they end up where it will be possible to get employment.

“We have a more even distribution of new arrivals than before. It plays a role where you get settled,” he says.

Sweden estimates that they will receive 28,000 asylum seekers this year and Kessling considers this to be manageable.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today