Copenhagen Capacity: The importance of learning Danish for work – The Post

Copenhagen Capacity: The importance of learning Danish for work

Nikolaj Lubanski (photo: Ulrik Jantzen)
September 8th, 2019 5:55 am| by Arushi Rajput

Copenhagen Capacity is the formal investment promotion agency of Greater Copenhagen, supporting foreign companies, investors and recruits to have a successful start in Denmark by onboarding them into the Danish market and society.

Nikolai Lubanski, the director of talent attraction at the company, shared with us how the aspect of learning Danish comes into play for international teams and expats moving to the Danish capital.


How many companies seem interested in the prospect of getting their international hires to learn Danish?
It’s been around four years since we collaborated, and now there are almost 7,000 international teams interested in taking the courses. Probably around 80 percent of the companies we deal with acknowledge the need because they look at the return on investment.

How important is Danish in the workplace?
Even though most people here are able to speak English, knowing Danish helps you get into different settings. You would be better acquainted with the country and also your workplace – it is a part of getting out of the international bubble. And likewise, for the international individual talent: simply because we believe that even if the corporate language is English, the career language is definitely Danish – to open new doors and opportunities for promotions. It is a good idea if you want to network and further your abilities. What we try to brand is that by moving to Denmark as an international team, you don’t only get a job, you also get a life. It’s been a great asset for our marketing to say that we will assist them in getting a life and being connected – of which learning the language is an essential aspect.

And in the corporate world – for a company as an entity?
Often companies start working more with Danish customers, and then it’s handy to have Danish speaking staff for good customer-relation building. It is important to know the language while working with clients, manufacturers and suppliers who are still very reluctant to communicate only in English. Moreover, it is essential for B2B relations and to understand the work culture of Denmark.

Apart from at work, how essential is Danish in everyday life?
There are definitely other benefits of learning Danish looking from the personal livability side of it. I emphasise learning it to have a fuller life and being able to interact with the Danes. For families, it is helpful to know Danish when their kids are studying in Denmark to speak with the teachers and understand instructions – if they have to go to the doctor, to the supermarket etc. They will obviously navigate their way through in English, but Danish helps them get so much closer to society.

What do you think about the future of expats in Denmark?
I think it will only increase because if you look at the labour market situation over the last few years, internationals are highly needed. Hopefully, we will see some positive times looking at what is really needed than what the strict immigration policies do.

We understand you have a collaboration with Copenhagen Language Center. Why did you choose them?
Firstly, they had a very good reputation and were seen as doing a very professional job. Secondly, they’re flexible. We had become used to our international teams citing one problem: “The courses are not flexible enough and if we just go and take the open courses that are normally there, we will be put in a class with people from varied backgrounds.” They wanted something more specific to cater to the people at work and so Copenhagen Language Center developed a new course called Danish for Professionals, which was taught in after-work hours and directed at a special segment with similar education backgrounds.

What is Copenhagen Language Center’s core strength?
They adjust their courses to a company’s needs. This tailor-made approach that they adopt for specific groups – professionals, students etc – is an example of how well they adjust their programs to specific situations and market needs.

How does your collaboration with them exactly function?
We include them in our marketing materials, and brand the school as a part of our onboarding activities. If companies and expats seem interested, we redirect them to the language school. If, for example, a company asks us about how they can do a great onboarding and retain talent, then we advise them to start with the language course and assist their employees.