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Contributing to a successful start in a new country

The onboarding project Relocation Region Kristiansand will provide guidance in practical and social inclusion matters to new international university employees. 

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Birthe Helland Olsen and Malin Stine Hauge, photo
Birthe Helland Olsen, project leader at Business Region Kristiansand and Malin Stine Hauge, project coordinator at UiA.

Relocation Region Kristiansand is a project created to ensure that newly employed international staff get a safe and effective beginning in Norway. The plan also extends to the employee’s family. Partners/spouses will receive help finding a job and employees with children in applying for kindergarten and schools. 

Leading the project is Birthe Helland Olsen, who is working for Kristiansand Kommune at Business Region Kristiansand. 

“After the recruitment process is complete, international employees have the opportunity to get help with practical matters, such as immigration issues, registering in the Police, obtaining a tax card, finding accommodation and developing a social network”, says Helland Olsen.

A complex process 

Birthe Helland Olsen and Malin Stine Hauge are both contact persons for the project Relocation Region Kristiansand.

Recruiting manpower to Norway is a complex and, more often than not, a non-linear process. The process to obtain all the necessary documentation to live and work in Norway differs from country to country. Even when immigration issues are put to rest, other subjects, such as opening a bank account or getting medical insurance, may surface and demand quick solutions. For a rookie in Norwegian bureaucracy, help is almost always welcome.

Helland Olsen is quite familiar with these issues and understands the significance of providing a solid amount of support. 

“It is very important to safeguard the well-being of the employee and his/her family for all parties involved”, she emphasises. 

An UiA initiative

UiA approached Business Region Kristiansand with the idea in the autumn of 2018. The result was the development of a two-year pilot project with an intention of being extended and expanded. In addition to UiA, who is currently the biggest contributor to the project, are partners SSHF, Gard, OSM, MH Wirth and Cameron Sense. 

Bernt Jørgen Stray

Bernt Jørgen Stray, HR director at UiA, sees Relocation Region Kristiansand as a unique opportunity to strengthen international recruitment not only at the University but also in the region.  

“Business Region Kristiansand has great connections with the government and with public and private businesses in Agder. By gathering partners in one common project, we have an increased chance of succeeding at making the region more welcoming and attractive to international staff. Together, we stand stronger”, says Stray.

The initiative is also in accordance to the University’s 2016 – 2020 Strategy focused on internationalisation, also known as Global Mindset. 

“Our work is international. Our subjects are of worldwide relevancy. We have a need to recruit talents with different knowledge and perspectives from all over the world in order to further develop the work we do at UiA. It is important that we follow up on our employees, not only with onboarding but in getting people connected with the society”, says Stray. 

“Facilitating onboarding and the development of social networks are subjects we have had great focus on”, he adds.

An increasing number of international staff

Approximately 20% of the staff at the University is international, and that percentage is on the rise. 

“In both campuses, the number of international employees at UiA has significantly increased in the past years”, says Malin Stine Hauge, senior HR advisor at the University. “With that increase came also the need to have additional support with onboarding and social and cultural integration in Kristiansand and Grimstad”, she adds.

Malin Stine Hauge is also the project coordinator and contact person at UiA for Relocation Region Kristiansand.

Inclusion and networking

Secrets of Kristiansand is one of the networking initiatives which encourages internationals and locals to meet and discuss experiences and opportunities, while learning something new about the region. Although the meeting is primarily intended for employees who have recently moved to Norway, those who have already established themselves in the region can also benefit from the these monthly events. 

”There are not many fully English spoken events in the area, so having this meeting place is very positive opportunity”, says Hauge.

The event is free and takes place every first Monday of the month mostly at Teateret. The next event will be on 4 November. You may follow Secrets of Kristiansand on Facebook for all updates.


For more information regarding Relocation Region Kristiansand and onboarding of international employees at UiA you may contact Malin Stine Hauge or Birthe Helland Olsen to learn how international employees can benefit from this project and register.