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A success story for international families

Esbjerg's partner job programme is at the forefront of helping international families successfully settle in Denmark.

Text: Nikolaos Papadopoulos

Pictures: iStock

The increasing demand for skilled workers is one of Denmark's foremost present issues. It offers many opportunities for businesses to thrive, but with a limited workforce, it must attract internationals to fill open positions.

However, international workers find it daunting to migrate to Denmark, especially for families. The issue here is that often, just one spouse has a standing job offer in Denmark, with the second needing to seek a job once the decision to move is made. Thus, if one partner cannot secure a permanent job, the entire family will eventually leave Denmark.

This is where Maria Anglada, Settlement Coordinator in Esbjerg Kommune, and Esbjerg's partner job programme come in. Started in 2013 by Pia Enemark, in collaboration with the local job centre, it was established to help partners of international workers secure a job once they arrive in the country. Although this is one of many programmes on offer in Denmark, it is the country's most successful. In 2020, out of 73 international partners that participated in the programme, 35 (47,9%) managed to find a job, with the percentage being even higher for Danish partners (78.6%); the numbers were even higher for 2019 when the COVID crisis was still new.

“I really enjoy the flexibility the job offers me and how understanding Danish workplaces are.”

The programme is meant to educate partners and spouses on the workings of the Danish labour market, providing assistance, know-how, and networks to facilitate their job-seeking process. For example, Monique Beyer, an environmental engineer for Esbjerg Kommune, secured her current position using the programme. Monique had previously graduated from her Master programme at DTU in 2012, moved to New Zealand where she acquired her PhD and moved back to Denmark in 2019 when her partner got a job here.

Neither Monique nor her partner is Danish, and additionally, Monique was pregnant with their second child; this naturally made looking for a job more difficult in many ways. However, that did not stop Monique from networking, and she connected with Pia, who introduced her to the programme. With guidance from Pia and Maria, Monique is now working for the municipality.

Having started as an intern, although overqualified, after 3 months, she was offered a regular post in the municipality's environmental department. "I really enjoy the flexibility the job offers me and how understanding Danish workplaces are," she says, referring to Denmark's famed work-life balance ethics.

Monique's story reminds us that with persistence and dedication, success could be just around the corner.

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