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How Thon Hotels help more people join the workforce

Since 2013, the Olav Thon Group has been offering job training to those outside the workforce. This has opened doors for people from around the world.

En blid jente strekker frem hånden for å hilse på en annen person

The hotel industry offers the perfect setting for job training 

"Helping people to enter the workforce is part of our social responsibility," says Britt Vidung.

She is an HR adviser in the Olav Thon Group and has worked on the cooperation agreement with the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (Nav) since 2013.

The agreement offers people the opportunity to undergo job training at the various subsidiaries of the Olav Thon Group for a specific period of time. This gives the unemployed the experience and references they need to apply for a permanent position.

"As a large organisation with lots of opportunities and a wide range of experience and education requirements, we are the perfect partner for job training," says Britt.

She points out that the hotel industry is especially well suited to this.

"At our hotels, there are lots of different types of positions, which gives job seekers the possibility to try different roles."

Job training that opens doors

A hotel that has been important to many who have been outside the labour force for different reasons is Thon Hotel Arena in Lillestrøm.

"We see how much it means for people to have somewhere to go to and to feel a sense of empowerment," says Wendy Fjeldstad, who works as the hotel's administrative manger.

She describes the collaboration with Nav as a win-win situation. It gives the unemployed the opportunity to figure out whether the tourism industry is right for them, while giving the hotel the possibility to recruit new team members.

"I don't have an exact number for how many have undergone job training here, but there have been many and several of them have ended up with a permanent position at the hotel," she says.

"No matter where you come from, we probably have someone working here who speaks your language"

It's not only the hotel guests who are of different nationalities, but also many employees of Thon Hotels come from other parts of the world, making the hotels even more attractive for job seekers with a non-Norwegian background.

"No matter where you come from, we probably have someone working here who speaks your language," says the administrative manager at Thon Hotel Oslo Airport, Maiju Aimola.

Maiju has personally experienced what it's like to live and work in Norway without speaking Norwegian.

"I moved to Norway from Finland in 2001 and even though lots of jobs involve speaking English, Norwegian is important in order to function well in society."

Excellent arena for language training

This summer, the hotel has an agreement with Nav for language training.

"Language skills are important for integration and participation in society. Working at a hotel improves both your Norwegian and English. In fact, a hotel is an excellent arena for practising language."

Maiju currently has two Ukrainians undergoing language training at the hotel. Both of them are enrolled in Norwegian language courses through Nav and are doing a work placement in the hotel kitchen and restaurant.

"They have the opportunity here to practice what they have learned in the language course. They haven't been here very long, but I hope they speak as much Norwegian as possible while here, so that they can make the most out of the work placement."

With room for at least 90 different nationalities

The fact that Thon Hotels is an organisation that prioritises diversity is something that HR consultant Britt Vidung is proud to point out.

"I think we've had around 90 different nationalities in our team, so we have experience with a wide range of cultures, making us the perfect partner for Nav."

At both Thon Hotel Arena and Thon Hotel Oslo Airport, Wendy and Maiju have learned that the most popular jobs for those in job training are the positions of receptionist, kitchen staff member and conference host.

"You don't need to have a Bachelor's or Master's degree to work successfully in our organisation, nor do you need to be fluent in Norwegian. We work in a sector with room for everyone," says Wendy. 


  1. BV Britt Vidung Senior HR Adviser at the Olav Thon Group
  2. MA Maiju Aimola Administration Manager at Thon Hotel Oslo Airport
  3. WF Wendy Fjeldstad Administration Manager at Thon Hotel Arena in Lillestrøm