Union Views: International students, please stay we need you – The Post

Union Views: International students, please stay we need you

“Take my graduation suit back, I’ve got a flight to catch” (Photo by iStock)
September 20th, 2015 7:00 am| by Steen Vive
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The number of international students taking degrees in Denmark is increasing. This is good news. As a nation, we need to attract international talent if we are to remain competitive. There is a minor problem, however. Most of these students leave Denmark after graduation. And this is unfortunate.

A value driver
Having international candidates for jobs encourages companies to adopt a global mindset and ensures cultural diversity – a central driver for business innovation and ultimately business growth. Consequently, international skills are a strategic parameter for our companies, which need the internationals’ experience and the in-depth market knowledge and language skills they bring to the table.

In a globalised world, it is vital for companies to understand the local business culture and procedures in all the countries in which they operate. There is every indication that this will be even more important in the years to come.

Schemes and placements
Studies indicate that, upon graduation, 80 percent of international full-degree students expect to apply for a job in Denmark – yet only 30 percent stay.
This made me wonder whether there are any labour market-related explanations. I identified two: firstly, a lack of awareness of special schemes, and secondly, work placements.

I was surprised to find that fewer than half of the international students knew about the special employment schemes that are specifically designed to make it easier to live and work in Denmark, such as the fast-track scheme or establishment card schemes.

Less surprising was the fact that students involved in relevant work alongside their studies were more likely to stay in Denmark after graduation. I see the same tendency within Djøf. Native candidates with relevant work experience find full-time employment faster.

Please reconsider
If you are a student, I hope you will consider applying for a relevant student job – you might find some useful tips on my organisation’s website. If you are a recent graduate, please check whether there is a special scheme relevant to you. And to reiterate my point, I really hope that you will stay. We need you!

Steen Vive


Steen is senior advisor at Djøf, the Danish Association of Lawyers and Economists. He is a blogger and manager of various projects aimed at generating jobs in the private sector. In this column he writes about trends and tendencies in the labour market. Follow him on Twitter @SteenVive