“We have started to see it as quite natural that there are Swedes serving beer and food our restaurants and Eastern Europeans painting our houses and picking the strawberries we eat,” Stein Lier-Hansen, chief executive of the Federation of Norwegian Industries, told the Verdens Gang newspaper.
“I want to say: this means that our youth have become spoilt. And it’s not good enough.”
Norwegians have worried about the damaging social effects of the country’s offshore oil wealth ever since the revenues first started pumping in back in the 1980s.
But Lier-Hansen said he felt it was more necessary than ever to alert his countrymen to the problem, as he saw so many young Norwegians getting trapped in unemployment by an overly generous benefits system.
“Today we have arrangements that allow young people to be lazy”, he told the newspaper, warning that in the long-run, this risked doing severe damage to the economy.
“We will not remain the world's best country to live in if we allow so many people of working age not to work. The Norwegian economy will not tolerate it in the future. That’s why I’m sounding the alarm before it's too late.”
His biggest fear, he said, was that those who failed to find jobs in their 20s would still be unemployed in their 40s because of gaps in their CVs would make them almost unemployable.
According to Norway’s NAV state employment agency, a 25-year-old on disability benefits costs the public nine million Norwegian kroner ($1.1m) over the course of what would have been their career.