Norwegian employers are starting to dump their domestic young apprentices in favour of older, non-Norwegian ones.
Whilst some builders bang on about fears for the future of the industry, the foreigners are flooring the competition.
The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL) says the 2006 Education Reform has reduced the number of specialised studies and broadened the rest.
Norwegians are simply not educated and equipped with skills the construction industry needs, becoming ‘jacks of all trades’ instead.
“You have to be a plumber from day one if you want to become a good one. Not even four years’ education is enough to immerse yourself in a trade,” says the organisation’s Jørgen Leegaard, telling Klassekampen BNL has informed the Ministry of Education of their concerns.
According to him, businesses prefer to “take on foreign workers because they are clever but often unskilled”, or in some cases Norwegian adults who receive four-and-a-half years of on-the-job training at a company and receive certification (City and Guilds UK equivalent).
700 apprenticeships disappeared last year, which Mr Leegaard argues is partly due to the previous recession in 2009, and partly a decrease in status.
“Nevertheless, I’m worried we’re witnessing the start of a trend […] Craftsmen used to have a standing, but amongst other things, it’s disappeared because the relevant studies have become less professionally-orientated,” he says.
BNL’s member businesses report they need as many as 9,000 new craftsmen each year, but just 6th-Form Colleges supply just approximately 2,500.
Rolf Jørn Karlsen at the Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions (Fellesforbundet) shares Mr Leegaard’s concern, claiming students give up on their education because the first year is too general.
“This proves the dissatisfaction about the quality of education amongst our members,” he declares.
Whilst Norwegian trainee Lasse Grønstad thought his first year was boring because he already knew he just wanted to become a plumber, more mature foreign trainee Mikica Nikodijevic says, “I believe I probably have an advantage when it comes to taking the certification exam.”
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