WORKSHOP: SERVICES IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR

Moving to a new country can be both challenging and frustrating. at the same time it's exciting, a great opportunity to meet new people and to experience a different culture.

Oslo as a city scores pretty low when it comes to welcoming internationals into the city, and we need to become better hosts. Through our open inquiry, we’re asking internationals themselves what could be done better and how they could help shape new solutions and initiatives for a more welcoming city.

Last night we hosted the second workshop with a bunch of engaging internationals, who have all come to Oslo for work. Previous workshops have focused on how Norwegians can see opportunities in internationalization, and having international contacts, a more general talk with international and their experiences in moving here, and last night; a more focused look on the Norwegian system. Which authorities, departments, services and agencies did people come in contact with? Before they moved here, when they just arrived and now having lived here for a while. We talked about what works and what doesn't, and we got lots of ideas on how to make the experience better for internationals coming to Oslo.


Want to know what we learned?

Keep scrolling past video and pictures for the summary of the answers we got:

What authorities, departments, agencies and services have you been in touch with in Oslo?

UDI, Police, NAV, Doctor, Skatteetaten, Ruter, Fire services, Ambulance, University Administration, Emergency Rooms, Breg.no, Patentstyret, Posten, Embassies, Oslo Kommune, Oslo Kemnerkontor, Finn.no, Statens Vegvesen, Oslo Chamber of Commerce, Altinn, Banks (not public sector, but it affects the process), and Innovasjon Norge. ...and many more.

“NAV is an institution that wants to get rid of their clients as soon as possible. That is what they learn. They are very helpful when you know what to ask for and you are stubborn enough to write the complaints. From my experience it works the second time around.”
 

What works?

So in meeting the Norwegian systems / authorities/ agencies and using their services, what works well? The health system, bank system, MinID, BankID, Altinn, Barnevernet, Ruter, Posten, New in Norway Booklet, workers rights, public transport, Ruter, tax cards, feriepenger, sykepenger and pensions.

Other things like having a Norwegian friend or someone who has been here for a while already to guide you through the system is of great help. Having documents and websites in English, language-exchanges, care for people with social needs, the fact that most Norwegians speaks English is other things mentioned that the participants things are great.

“Vipps is AWESOME”
 

...and what doesn’t work?

NAV came up in conversation a few times, health care for people with serious illnesses, having to pay for Norwegian classes, Norwegian websites, no training on how to use the public system, hard to figure out how to choose a doctor or specialist (came up a few times), short opening hours at the different agencies, lack of guidance, poor information, easier to be a refugee than a job seeker, strict visa rules, scepticism to foreigners, lack of information in English and lack of friendliness from people working at the different agencies.

“I still don’t know exactly what I should do for taxes. I think it’s all good, but I’m never 100% sure”
 

What can we do to make the experience better?

After discussing what works and what doesn't, it was time to get some suggestions to what could be done better. These were some of the ideas and suggestions that came up:

Have more networking opportunities and events to connect people, more regular evaluations of the systems (ask how people experienced the services), more English instructions (for example when contacting UDI, the police or Altinn), one entry point for information was mentioned many times (like in our other workshops too), more mentor- or buddy programs for newly arrivals, workshops or meetings for newly arrivals with all information needed, easier visa requirements, free Norwegian language classes, educate Oslopolitans on why foreigners are important to Oslo, funding for companies who are internationally oriented, workshops for Norwegians on how to work with internationals, make the systems more digital (why do you have to send papers by post?), more spaces for people to share their experiences, better customer service at all instances (ex. NAV and Skatt Øst. This was mentioned a lot of times, and in general most people have not had nice experiences and meetings), make the process of getting a D-number faster.

Role models like startups are much needed. More focus on why it’s important to have international talent in Oslo is also a suggestion and topic that came up a few times. Norwegians need to become aware, and start to see the value in it. There are very few, or no incentives - no motivation - for Norwegians to include Internationals. Though there is a lot of services, people that have been in Norway for a long time already, was eager to share that things HAVE changed a lot since they arrive 7-10 or even 12 years ago. And that change takes time.