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Oslo - Overview
A heterogeneous mix of foreign nationals has definitely altered the city's cultural and demographic nature, with very little of 'Norwegian' reflected in its landscape. The vicinity around the city's castle just about retains its typical Norwegian character, while the rest has given way to foreign names and immigrants who run the city's businesses and stores.
The weather of Oslo comes as a surprise to many who expect this high latitude city situated at the head of the Skaggerak Bay overlooking the Oslo Fjord, to have biting cold temperatures throughout the year. In reality, the warm currents from the Atlantic help to give Oslo a pleasant summer with occasional bursts of high temperatures. Temperatures in the winters are of course unrelenting, almost always at freezing point. The Oslovians love their snow, and sporting events and championships lend a festive air to the city.
Oslo possesses immense opportunities for skilled professionals in the oil and gas, telecom and fishing industry. Mining, paper and newsprint, shipbuilding and chemicals are other pillars on which the Norwegian economy stands. Revenues from the offshore oil industry however have been singularly responsible for the city's turnaround in the 1970's and 1980's.
The demand for professionals in the IT industry is high, and the IKT-Neringens Interesseorganisasjon and the Norwegian Counsel for Information Science can be referred to for opportunities in the industry. Healthcare, construction and engineering also have a large void of specialists. Senior personnel in the sales, finance and management functions are equally in demand. The Norwegian Financial Services Association and the Norwegian Institute of Public Accountants can be referred to jobs in the finance and accounting functions.
Comfortable working conditions and a wonderful outdoors draws expatriates to the city, and the high salary package makes up for the high cost of living. Foreign nationals looking for employment in Oslo can go through the NAV website which is a large resource pool for employment seekers. Most companies also put up their staffing requirements on their websites, and can be approached directly. Search firms and consultants are other sources to tap for jobs in Oslo.
Working hours in Oslo are restricted to 37.5 per week, from 8 to 4 PM. Your entitlements also include an annual paid vacation of 25 days, and 28 hrs of off on weekends and public holidays. Sick leave is permitted, and women are granted 42 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, and upto 52 weeks of maternity leave at 78% of pay.
Member nations of the European Union enjoy free work rights in Oslo as a result of trade agreements with the EC countries. Norway is however not a member of the European Common Market.
Norwegians are comfortable speaking and communicating in English, but it's wise to learn the Norwegian languages Bokmal and Nynorsk as most newspapers and private publications are available only in these languages.
Norway's socialist economy guarantees health care to all residents of Oslo, and a permanent doctor scheme is in place which assures attention from a general practitioner at all waking hours and an emergency service whenever the doctor is not available
Housing remains one of the concerns for expatriates in Oslo. High labor and construction costs have forced prices up to unaffordable levels and families are known to save their entire lives for a home of their own.
The Norwegian Welfare and Labour Administration is the sole authority responsible for employment of expatriates in Oslo. All matters pertaining to residence and work permits, insurance and documentation are handled by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.
As a resident of Oslo, it would be helpful to know which 'bydel' or urban district you belong to. Each 'bydel' functions independently and handles matters of household importance. You may refer to www.velkommenoslo.no/english/new_in_oslo/municipal_services.htm to locate your 'bydel'
Expatriates in Oslo may also keep in mind that there are active organizations that have the interests of minority groups as their main agenda. A council for immigrant organizations, the 'Rådet for innvandrerorganisasjoner' is on call at 23 46 14 46 or www.velkommenoslo.no/english/new_in_oslo/organisations.htm to attend all issues concerning immigrants from Asia, Iran and the Middle east; Europe, Turkey and Afghanistan; Africa and Latin America.
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