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From Norway to Ireland by SMS
Unemployment rates among recent secondary school and university graduates have risen throughout Europe, with Norway not immune to the trend. Youth between the ages of 18 and 25 are particularly likely to finding themselves outside of the workforce and, as Norwegian EURES Adviser Melanie Hill found, changing their situation for the better is sometimes a question of meeting them on common ground.
Toward the end of May 2010, Dublin-based Stream Global Services approached Melanie about posting a job opportunity on the EURES portal for twelve Norwegian speakers in their call centre. The advertisement generated very little interest however. ‘Video games are closely linked to the younger crowd who, even without formal education, generally have an excellent knowledge of the subject, but are also unlikely to show up at a local employment office’, she said.
Melanie believes that the enhancement to a jobseeker’s CV that employment abroad provides should not be underestimated: ‘Working or studying abroad has positive associations. The individual is seen as independent, resilient and unafraid of taking risks,’ she said. With this in mind, she set about contacting the jobseekers through alternative channels of communication.
Considering that 70% of Norway’s young people do not have a landline, contact via mobiles seemed like a good option. The text of the SMS was short and simple, focused on getting the main point across: ‘Hi! Since you are registered as a jobseeker with NAV (the Norwegian public employment services), there’s a vacancy for PC games customer support in Dublin that may be of interest. If you would like to know more about this job, please get in touch with Melanie Hill, NAV EURES Adviser.’ The responses arrived at lightning speed. The first came within two minutes of the SMS being sent and after 24 hours almost all who were initially contacted via the small-scale campaign responded. The interested candidates were given further information via email, and invited to send in their CVs for feedback.
Twenty-year old Thomas Johnsen, one of the recruits currently in Dublin, particularly appreciated the proactive approach of being notified via SMS. ‘It made me more interested since I didn’t have all of the information about the job – I wanted to get in touch to find out more,’ he said.
At the conclusion of the selection process, six individuals were recruited for employment in Ireland from Melanie’s region of North Trøndelag, and prepared to depart almost immediately. Though the new employees had already expressed their willingness to go abroad, the EURES office and their new employer provided them with necessary information for their first days away, including some local guidance and housing information.
The teaser tactic has proven itself a success as both employer and employees are happy with the experience. Fiona Kelly of the Stream Global Services said that that the Norwegian group has proven friendly and positive, receiving good performance evaluations. The employees themselves also view this as a positive experience, one that could increase their professional experience and open more doors when they return home. ‘Personally I learned that I’m better at English than I thought and I really recommend this to everyone who wants to work abroad or take a year off from school. It looks good on your CV and is a great experience,’ Thomas said.
The SMS initiative has proven itself to be successful for all of the parties involved and one that is likely to be used again in the EURES Norway offices.