Holistic approach to integration in Northern Norway
New arrivals as a resource for the rural area
In Nordland County people are aware of the multifaceted needs of migrants arriving in the county. In addition of the support of skills enhancement, job searching strategies and language training there is also emphasis on social activities to bring newly-arrived migrants in contact with the Norwegians settled in the area.
Civil society organisations play an important role in the work of organising leisure activities and enhance social network among people in the community regardless of education or nationality to support the development of a social network for people living in the community.
Main characteristics of Nordland county
Among Norwegian counties, Nordland is one of the largest exporters of raw materials, industrial goods and fish products. 65 pct. of the export from Northern Norway comes from Nordland, every tenth farmed salmon in the world is from Nordland and 70 pct. of the Norwegian fishing fleets total catch is fished in Nordland. In Helgeland, the most southern part of Nordland county is the second largest industrial cluster in Norway 2016 (Nordland County 2016).
The population in Nordland County is population wise on the same level as in the 1970s in actual numbers. Because the overall population number has increased for Norway the share living in Nordland is reduced. This have an effect on economy, representation to the national parliament in Norway, and the finances allocated to Nordland to support municipalities develop the local economy and communities.
|Nordlands share of Norway||6,3%||5,3%||4,9%||4,7%||4,4%|
(Halveisrapport for the in-migration project, Nordland County)
If Nordland had the same development as the rest of Norway in population growth it would mean that today 325.400 habitants lived in Norway which is 83718 more habitants than what live in Nordland today.
Immigration and integration as part of the regional development strategy
Nordland County are working actively attract migrants to come to work and settle in the county. In 2013 the in-migration project («Tilflytting og rekruttering fra utlandet») were established. It is running for 4 years until 2017 and is financed through the ordinary budgets from education, labour and welfare. The project intends to attract new citizens to the county to mitigate the long terms effect of outmigration in Nordland county. In 2011 Nordland experienced for the first time a small population growth due to immigration and today the labour market in Nordland is dependent on workers coming from other countries.
Beside the focus on attracting workers the in-migration project also support a holistic inclusion of the migrants already arrived in Nordland County. This includes supporting civil society organisations working with integration in the municipalities. It has become clear that everything happening outside work is of high importance for people wanting to reside on a long term basis. By being included in the local community through engagement in e.g. the sports association gives a sense of belonging in a different way than having a regular work.
Nordland county sport association have a funding programme where local sport associations can apply for financial support to make sports activities aimed at integrating newly arrived migrants. An introduction to sport associations and leisure time activities in Norway is also part of the introductory programme for refugees.
A diverse group in need of diverse support measures for successful integration
The migrants arriving in Norway are a diverse group and it is of importance to understand how the cultural background, work and educational capacity differ in between those migrants coming from the same countries.
In 2015 labour migrants comprised 43 pct., family reunification migrants comprised 33 pct. and refugees 14 pct. and education 10 pct. Below is a scheme illustrating the reasons for migrants to settle between 1990 and 2012. Due to a larger flow of refugees in 2016 the statistics are likely to be subject to quite some change.
|Møre og Romsdal||55,6||29,5||9,5||4,9|
(Nordland Fylkesskommun 2015)
In general the attention from the general public and media has been on the refugees arriving in Nordland County all though they consist of approximately 20 pct. of the total number of migrants. The majority of the migrants arriving in Nordland County are EEA labour migrants from Poland and Lithuania.
Creating connections and local investments in the Norwegian communitie
In Herøy municipality they have a volunteer organisation working with providing language training and other social activities to migrants in the municipality. It is financed 60 pct. of the national government and 40 pct. locally. The leader of the volunteer organisation has a broad outreach to many of the newly arrived migrants in the municipality and work towards creating social cohesion between the Norwegians and the migrants living in the same municipality through different activities such as language café, cultural evenings etc.
One initiative locally is also setting up a mentor programme with particular focus on women. Here Norwegian and migrant women are partnered up to support each other in small and big things in life and to enhance the social network of people in the same village.
The libraries are excellent meeting places with an untapped potential for integration activities. There are already many relevant international magazines and books and with more activities focusing on social events it could lead to network building between migrants and native Norwegians. Distriktssenteret in Norway made, Inkluderingsnavet Berg folkebibliotek, a short movie illustrating how the library can be a good place to meet and organise activities in the community
Housing is a key area and studies document how many migrants are highly motivated to buy their own house but felt restrained by the banks requirement of start-up capital and didn’t know about opportunities from e.g. Husbanken. When buying a house it is also an indicator of long-term perspective of staying in the municipality.
Work is a main reason for migrants to settle in one municipality but also a reason to move to another area. Generally, migrants’ living in rural areas are affected by the economic regional situation and job opportunities but also the local attitudes and practices when it comes to the migrants’ interest to stay longer in a rural district.