Expat-Package to help integration

The expat-package is a part of the 2013 inclusion agreement (Inklusionsaftale 2013) which was ratified on May 7 and unanimously agreed to by the Copenhagen municipal council.

The agreement is a bid to address the integration issues of Copenhagen and allow foreigners a smoother transition to life in Denmark.

In December, 2010, the Copenhagen municipal council initiated the inclusion politics (inklusionspolitiken) that spanned from 2011 to 2014 and the new 2013 inclusion agreement is meant as an update of that original proposal.

The four central themes to the 2013 inclusion agreement are:

  • A good start for children and young people
  • Labour market inclusion (which includes the expat-package)
  • Vulnerable groups and areas
  • Copenhagen being an open and welcoming city.

A 2011 study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research indicated that approximately 20 percent of all expats leave Denmark again within the first two years of arriving, a central issue that the expat package is attempting to address. The attraction and retention of skilled foreigners has become a key component of the reform government’s strategies to make Denmark more competitive.

Anna Mee Allerslev (Radikale), the employment and integration mayor of Copenhagen said that the Danish capital can be proud that it will be praised internationally as well as the real efforts in regards to integration.

“Naturally, it’s the results and the core performance that is essential and it looks to be headed in the right direction,” Alleslev told Berlingske newspaper. “But we mustn’t stop here. A diverse city makes us richer, financially and culturally.”

Claus Aastrup Seidelin, who is a consultant at Dansk Industry, agrees that the package is a step in the right direction, but believes that is still much to be done to help foreign professionals settle and find work.

“One problem is that many immigrants leave Denmark because their spouse/partner are having problems finding a job and are experiencing difficulties settling in a new country,” Seidelin said to Copenhagen Post. “Another problem is that it is particular difficult to hold on oversees students. They get six months after finishing their studies to find a job and then they have to leave. We think they should automatically be handed a green card.”

The funding of the 2013 inclusion agreement will split up into three sections. 5.9 million kroner will be funded by integration revenue, 3.5 million kroner will be financed by the transverse integration pool, which is a slush fund dedicated to improving integration, and 8.75 million kroner will be contributed during the budget negotiations.

Nadezhda Matveeva, an Australian living in Copenhagen, who has applied for the Green Card Scheme in an effort to work in the finance sector in Denmark, finds that the expat package could be of great assistance.

“I think that the package addresses some key issues that foreigners face when relocating and adapting to Denmark,” Matveeva told the Copenhagen Post. “I think meeting Danes can be a bit daunting and it seems difficult to create a network in the job market as a foreigner. The package is a good start in tackling these dilemmas.”

And Seidelin believes that the government should consider the rules and general conditions of attracting foreign talent as they will become an integral component down the road.

 ”Our need for highly-educated immigrants is not going to shrink in the future. How attractive we can be to them as a country has become a measure of global competiveness,” Seidelin told Copenhagen Post.

The expat package focuses on four sections as a subgenre to fostering inclusion on the labour market and is described as contributing to helping non-ethnic Danes finding employment, getting off the unemployment benefit scheme and generally making Copenhagen a more diverse, open and attractive city for foreigners to live and remain in.

  1. Continuing of the First Job (Første Job) in Denmark Plan:

The goal is to keep highly qualified foreign professionals in Denmark and utilize the target group’s strong resources in the Danish labour market. They offer six week courses in Danish and a two day orientation module in English. In 2011 First Job had 215 courses in 2011 and 85 percent of the course takers are either employed normally, via a wage subsidy or are enrolled in studies six months after completing the course. Six week courses in English, is proposed due to high demand and an increase of resource-laden EU citizens in Copenhagen municipality. The continuation of the First Job in Denmark Plan will cost two million kroner a year and will run from 2013 to 2016. Read more about First Job here.

  1. Continuation of the Copenhagen Host Program:

The aim is to match up new arrivals to the city with local Danish volunteers to better integrate them to the social and professional network across cultural borders. The target group is expansive and ranges from spouses of foreign workers to members of family reunification instances. By December 2012, the Copenhagen Host Program will have matched up 150 new arrivals with volunteer host in the city. The continuation of the program will increase the match criteria and focus on making more formalized cooperation agreements with relevant organizations while external funding is being looked at for after 2013. The program will cost 1 million kroner a year, running through 2013. Read more about the program here.

  1. Continuation of the Copenhagen Career Program:

The intention of the program is to ensure a better reception and retention of expats through a strategized effort for accompanying spouses and students. By working with educational institutions, unions, companies and other public authorities, the two target groups will be abreast of the job centers service offers. The continuation of the program will focus on making more formalized cooperation agreements with relevant organizations to solidify long term efforts. The program will cost 1 million kroner a year and is set to run from 2013 to 2016.

  1. Employment addressing efforts for Green card holders:

A 2010 study by Rambøll indicated that 28 percent of Danish green card holders are unemployed and 43 percent of them work in unskilled positions while only 29 percent use the education they brought with them. Drawing inspiration from the Canadian model (Canada’s Community Bridging Programs) the new plan will provide good and updated information in foreign languages about the labour market, good transition programs, aid for qualifying educational documents, information about courses and enlighten employers about the benefits of having a diverse workforce. The relevant minister will be kept posted on the program development in Copenhagen in order to evaluate its success. The cost for the program will be 0.5 million kroner a year spanning from 2013 to 2016.

Read the entire Inclusion Agreement 2013 (in Danish) here.