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Norway – Manpower executive under fire for criticizing young Norwegians

30 July 2012

A senior executive at Manpower Norway has come under criticism after he told a newspaper that young people in the country are too spoiled to work in low-skilled jobs, often losing out on the labour market to youth coming from neighbouring Sweden.

Thor Bendik Weider, Chaiman of Manpower Framnæs Instalasjon, said to the newspaper Aftenposten that Manpower is struggling to fill certain jobs with young Norwegians. The company, which is the second largest in the country, has problems finding young locals for “typical youth jobs.”

This comes after labour market research indicates that increased immigration from Sweden “displaces” young Norwegians from the labour market as Swedish youngsters seem more willing to take on low-skilled jobs.

Mr Weider also said Norwegian youngsters can hardly be found in the services industry in sectors such as catering or also in warehousing. “Whether it's because work is not good enough or paid well enough is difficult to say.” He added that Manpower “can document that the Swedes are applying for jobs Norwegian youth are not applying for. There are fewer Norwegian youth seeking employment with us than we would like.”

He argued that young Norwegians may be spoiled by their parents and could therefore show little interest in working. This, he warned, means youngsters are losing out on gaining important work experience.

But his comments have not gone down well. Leader of the Socialist Youth League in Norway, Andreas Halse, felt “provoked” by Mr Weider’s remarks. He accused him of “shameless moralism” and said Mr Weider, with his high salary, belonged to a generation that had it all.

“Work life was simple, housing was affordable and there was welfare for everybody when Weider was young,” Mr Halse said in response. He said this had changed completely and many youngsters are now increasingly working as temporaries because it is more difficult to get a permanent job. “This is a provocative statement from someone who has no idea what he's talking about,” Mr Halse concluded. 

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