Fra Lerøy Norway Seafoods, Melbu. Filetering av skrei

Project Year 2017

Fewer Norwegians working with fish

 Industrial economics  

The fisheries industry is not very attractive to Norwegian workers, while workers from EEA countries welcome jobs here.

More than 50% of the employees in the Norwegian fish processing industry in 2017 are foreign workers, compared with 12% in 2003.

“The increase in overseas workers suggests that the fish processing industry is struggling to be competitive for Norwegian workers, but that this industry is very competitive in the EEA,” says senior scientist Edgar Henriksen at Nofima.

Less than half are Norwegian

Commissioned by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, he has led the work on a report on the use of layoffs and foreign workers in fish processing.

The results can be broadly summarised as follows:

  • The share of Norwegians in permanent posts fell from 88% in 2003 to 58% in 2013.
  • By extension, probably fewer than half of the workers in fish processing are now Norwegian.
  • Seasonal variation and inability to offer year-round work are the reasons Norwegian workers do not want to work in the fisheries industry.
  • Most of the increased share of foreign workers are from Eastern Europe.
  • The use of layoffs has declined.

Well educated

Norwegian workers do not accept only a few months of work a year, while the wage level in Norway is often five times what workers can earn in Eastern Europe.

“The processing industry in Norway is far from causing wage inflation, but wages here are still much higher than workers in many EEA countries can earn at home. Therefore, people often are happy to take seasonal work in Norway,” says Henriksen.

He is not concerned about the quality of the overseas workers:

“Many foreign workers are well educated. They are also often motivated to prove their merit. Overall, foreign workers are no different to Norwegian workers in terms of quality,” he says.


Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ASD)

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