The Marginalized in the Norwegian Society
Is there something I can do when the society I live in prohibits me to do what I want to do? That was a question that was difficult for me to answer when I lived in the Philippines. The Filipino society is filled with many buts and ifs. One must fit and suit well within the bounds of what the society expects and tolerates. Perhaps, that what encouraged me to pursue a life outside the country, even though my career then was going forward. Now, it has been over two years I am living in Norway. The experience was never a walk in the park. I can say it was somewhat better but being marginalized is still something I experience in this egalitarian nation.
What does marginalization means? It simply means one feels being put on a side within a larger society for varying reasons ranging from culture, socio-economic status, religion, gender or beliefs. The social disparity is quite obvious in the Philippines. The rich are getting richer, while the poor and the vulnerable seem more hopeless. I was one of those coming from the vulnerable sectors of the society. I came from a family of farmer and raised by parents, who were not able reach tertiary education. We were not so poor, but without perseverance certainly, things for us will get worse and worse through time. The good thing for us is that we were determined to be better than the earlier generations in our familial lineage. That was the mere goal.
Now, both I and my sister are now living in Norway, considered to be one of the best country to live in. The socialist political structure of the country has safeguarded the vulnerable sectors of the society, preventing social marginalization. Everyone gets opportunity to live the way one decides to be. What the rich eats, certainly the average earning individual could also afford. That is the national objective. Personally, I confirm this as happening in Norway. However, I disagree that there are no marginalized sectors in this country. It just happen I am included in a marginalized group in Norway - the skilled foreign workers.
Politically speaking, I understand that Norway is trying to protect its citizens from competing with skilled foreign workers, securing the employment rate to be high. As a skilled foreign worker, government agencies make it very difficult for us to get work licenses, equivalent to our Norwegian counterparts. Agencies put so much stress into foreign skilled workers, discouraging them to even pursue anything. One mistake one will be expelled from the country. You keep quiet, you will not gain anything. Be aggressive in pushing for equal recognition of education for equal opportunities, no one will care. Wait for nothing, because the Norwegian government has decided only their people are capable of doing such excellent job, and others are just substandard.
When one is a foreigner, he or she lacks something, incomparable to Norwegian trained workers. My question is whether this is true. The best evidence perhaps would be the demand for Norwegian skilled workers outside the country. Certainly, there is no need for Norwegians to emigrate. But if foreigners are incomparable with Norwegian trained workers, many countries would be attracted to get workers from Norway, given they are simply superior and incomparable with anyone. One must accept the fact that this question will never be answered since Norwegians will preferably work inside the country. It would be impossible to compare a foreign-trained and Norwegian-trained worker in a third country. That would be enough sample to make a satisfying and credible conclusion.
The problem lies on the belief of the superiority of Norwegian-trained. It is a belief that requires research evidences, not just from inside the country but also outside. This must be done before Norwegian government agencies decide to make life difficult for foreign skilled workers. There is no flexibility, and to be honest, foreign skilled workers are like trained dogs to be punished anytime they behave differently. I admit Norway is one of the best place to live in the world. The rights of every citizen and resident is protected. However, the society is not perfect. I agree that there must be conditions to be fulfilled first, like language, which is understandable. However, in terms of professional knowledge and skills, I hope the Norwegian government agencies do not see a difference. If there is, support it with evidence and researches conducted outside the country, not just inside. This is to say that professional standards are universal and not self-serving to those trained by those who decide the national standard themselves. Unless, this is not done, marginalization of foreign skilled workers will continue, worse it is even state-sponsored.
However, what can we do as foreign skilled workers in the Norwegian society. Nothing but wait. Wait and learn more to go up the steep career path, until one is incomparable to Norwegian-trained. Strive to act like Norwegian, with the risk of losing one self-identity. One decided to be in a foreign land, so that is just simply the price to pay. No one cares anyway. One is simply marginalized.