It’s very important for the region that newcomers are properly welcomed. Several years ago, the Stavanger Chamber of Commerce and Industries started a program to introduce international employees and their families to the city. The region’s Welcome Center is called INN (International Network of Norway) and it focuses on the practical transition into Norwegian life and the needs of the employee and family.
INN publishes a monthly newsletter in English and organises about 80-100 events annually for its members. The events relate to information needed as a newcomer to Norway, this involves everything from taxes and pensions, driving and driving license, practicalities of having children in Norway, health system, work etc. as well as social events such as Portuguese wine evenings, Visit the USA, Italian evenings. In addition, INN provides support for accompanying spouses in regards to job training, employment and building a network. The social aspect is important as it means opportunities for newcomers and residents to meet in the context of activities organised in co-operation with the local associations. Norwegians are generally very active in their free time, and newcomers are encouraged to join.
A Welcome course day about ‘Area Orientation’ also takes place. This is a full course day about geography, history, Norwegian culture, values and beliefs, and practical information about the welfare system, health system, and daily living.
A seminar on ‘Creating an International WE culture’ is offered to companies with various nationalities including Norwegians. This seminar raises awareness around attitudes and personal responsibility. A good international team focus should be on the positive strengths we all bring to the table rather than on the ‘negative’ differences. Eradicating the ‘us and them’ mindset and creating a ‘We’ culture is beneficial to the company, the employees and ultimately the region.
The "New in the Stavanger and Haugesund region" guidebook provides a wealth of useful information and inspiring pictures of Stavanger and its surroundings. It answers the main questions most newcomers have upon arrival. The focus is on topics which are important to understand the Norwegian way of life. This includes information on outdoor activities, culture, practical living, culinary experiences, education and employment. This guidebook also works as an inspiration for people who are considering moving to the region or have already done so. The book can be obtained at the INN office at the Chamber of Commerce, or it can be downloaded as a pdf.
The industry of the region is technological and innovative; these companies attract resourceful people, and it is important to use their competencies and interests outside the company as well. INN is the networking facilitator, both for culture and innovation.