-I need more Norwegian training

-I need more Norwegian training

Yemelyanenko is a lawyer and psychologist from Ukraine. Now she stands in front of the blackboard at St. Mary's Learning Center in Sarpsborg and wonders if there is a double consonant in the word “easy.”

You wrote that Norwegian is easy. It's the truth with modifications.

You find it particularly difficult to pronounce.

Photo: Line Mueller/VG

75,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Norway in the past two years. Language barriers remain one of the biggest obstacles to getting a job.

-I need more Norwegian training. For me to be able to do my job well enough, it will probably take two years, Yemelianenko tells VG.

Photo: Line Mueller/VG

– Can you say it again, in short sentences, not long and difficult, she asks gently when the conversation becomes too demanding.

I work fast

This week came Favo With the report “Short program time i Induction program »They collected experiences from the training that Ukrainian refugees receive when they come to Norway.

With the new integration law, passed in 2021, the aim was to arrange teaching according to the needs of refugees.

The term “short program time” was introduced. This means an introductory program of six months, with the possibility of extending it by one year, for those who need it. Getting as many people into work as quickly as possible has been one of the government's goals.

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One of Two on the Job: Valentina's husband, Dmytro, has taken a part-time job at a refugee reception, which he combines with Norwegian language lessons. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

– What worries us is that refugees do not reach the level where they can get a job where they can speak Norwegian at work. When the job market is not an arena where you can speak Norwegian, integration becomes a problem in the long term, says one of the reports' researchers, Gori Tyldum.

She points to Denmark This is what many refer to as a success, because many Ukrainians have found work.


Juri Tyldum

– The challenge is that seventy percent of Ukrainians who have found work in Denmark work in transportation, construction, cleaning and hotels. There are industries where not a lot of Danish is spoken, and it is seen primarily as cheap Unskilled laborTyldum says.

She fears the same thing will happen in Norway.

Successful integration is not something we measure by how quickly refugees obtain employment opportunities. The real test is how many people have a stable, full-time job over the long term.

I waited a long time

Psychologist Valentina took Norwegian lessons for a year. It has been two years since she and her husband Dmytro packed up the car and took their daughter Mary with them.

They fled the Russian-occupied town of Berghansk near Mariupol.

He drove to Norway: the family of three slept and lived in the car. The journey took eleven days. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

Until then, she had been working as an advisor to the mayor on women's and children's rights issues, and had her own therapy groups. Dmytro was a lawyer with his own practice.

That time: Happy days in Ukraine. Valentina, Dmytro and their daughter Maria, who turns 13 today. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

– I had a cousin in Oslo. Valentina explains that she was the one who brought us to Norway.

The family spent the first eight months in Norway at a reception in Rogaland. There were no lessons and Valentina was aching to get started.

They did not return to school until they were appointed to Sarpsborg as their municipality. Now it has been one year this spring. Valentina and Dmytro did not think they had been trained and applied for further training. They got it.

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– It was very necessary. “I want to work with people in crisis and I need to speak a lot of Norwegian,” explains Valentina.

Black thoughts

I snuck out of school. The man Dmytro was left to complete the Norwegian test. He got a job in a refugee reception center and balances his life between study and work.

– Valentina emphasizes that we must have money to live on.

She herself created one Sole proprietorship She has a short-term contract with the Crisis Center where she arranges meetings for Ukrainians.

Photo: Line Mueller/VG

In the introductory course, they were concerned about the need for Ukrainians to integrate into Norwegian society. Valentina did it.

Together with other refugees, she founded the Ukrainian Council in Sarpsborg, and is also a member of the Women's Group of the Workers' Party.

Photo: Line Mueller/VG

What bothers her and many other Ukrainians is two main things:

Thinking about the future and how friends and relatives are doing in their homeland Ukraine.

Photo: Line Mueller/VG

Valentina brought a photo album with her and shows pictures of the family. In one corner of the living room there is a shelf containing books and icons that she brought with her from her homeland.

Many will remain in Norway

In order not to delve too deep into the darkness, Valentina also works as an art therapist in the Ukrainian groups to which she belongs, where they draw, play psychological games, cook or just have conversations.

-The more time we spend here, the more connected we become to Norway. We, like most others, are realistic in our view of war. There will be no peace anytime soon, and many will likely stay here.

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In Valentina's window: Norwegian and Ukrainian flags. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

Researcher Tyldum is concerned that Ukrainian refugees should take an introductory course specifically with a long-term perspective in mind. She also believes many will stay.

– I worked in the field of migration and return among refugees for fifteen years. She says the return of half of the Ukrainians is the optimistic scenario.


Tyldum is concerned that Ukrainian refugees should have the opportunity to work in the well-regulated part of the Norwegian labor market.

She believes that a clear expectation to start working quickly can prevent this.

She stressed that stability in municipalities is important, but you must also help refugees qualify for the skilled labor market.

Happy in her new home: Many Ukrainian families live in the townhouse area of ​​Sarpsborg where Valentina was given a house. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

What surprised her most about working on the report was the huge differences between municipalities.

Some of them are very good at structured training and help in finding good jobs. Elsewhere, refugees receive little monitoring, says Tyldum.

Valentina advises getting additional education and more Norwegian training. And remember, Norway needs manpower.

More Norwegian

Valentina knows that she has to reach a certain level in order to pass the Norwegian language test that qualifies her to work in a humanitarian organization or in social work.

That's why she's grateful for the extra half year of Norwegian study that the municipality has now offered her.

Satisfied with the training: Valentina and Dmytro received one and a half years of training in Norwegian. Photo: Line Mueller/VG

The introductory courses contain both Social Studies and Norwegian. For Valentina, it would have been more Norwegian, less gregarious. She has an academic background and is trained to recognize systems.

After completing the Norwegian language course in the summer, the plan is to take private lessons. She is really looking for good teachers and good prices.

– Although many of us are used to sitting in school, I think it will take a couple of years before I know Norwegian well enough to work in social work, she says.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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