Trainees are students who, through work, gain practical experience in a profession or education they have chosen. All Nordic countries allow students from countries outside the EEA to be interns in their own country. The Norwegian scheme is stricter than the scheme in our neighboring countries, and the scheme is mostly used in the agricultural industry. In other industries, the scheme is not well known. We have, in collaboration with lawyer Vegard Bahus and the Frisch Centre, evaluated the scheme and regulations that grant temporary residence and work permits for trainees from countries outside the EEA on behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion.
The agricultural and especially horticultural industries have long been the most important recipients of trainees from countries outside the EEA. Especially many Ukrainian students have come to work as trainees in these industries. The IT-industry is the industry that have taken the most trainees, apart from the agricultural industry, and has had a large increase in the number of trainees in the last few years.
In 2018, the regulations for traineeships were tightened due to misuse of the scheme. Trainees did not receive the training they were entitled to and in some cases were used as regular seasonal workers. The regulations became stricter, partly through the fact that the maximum permitted length of stay was reduced from 24 to 6 months. The shortened duration seems to be the most important reason why many businesses have stopped using this scheme to hire trainees.
We find that the Norwegian regulations are more restrictive than in the other Nordic countries. Among other things, Norway has the shortest maximum permitted length of stay of only 6 months, compared to 18 months in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. There are also more explicit requirements for the training plan and, unlike in the other countries, it is not possible to obtain a residence permit as an intern in Norway if the education has recently ended.
If the trainee scheme is made more widely known in more industries than today, it is expected that more businesses, also outside agriculture, will use this scheme to hire trainees from countries outside the EEA.
The report can be found here.