It seems that Denmark has trouble holding onto highly educated and ambitious immigrants since, according to the newest research conducted by DEA, an independent non-profit think tank, based in Copenhagen, there is no significant need of highly skilled labor anymore.
The recent study has been carried out among 400 high-skilled foreigners, who have had constant difficulties with job search in Denmark regardless of their education and, to some extent, experience. ”It would be really sad to lose such a large number of highly educated foreigners simply because they are not “incorporated” in the country and cannot find jobs. We know that these highly skilled foreigners create value in companies, as they generate tax and revenue to the public sector. However, the situation is, that job market is pretty tough”, says Martin Junge. It seems that the country is open for foreigners to come… but is not interested in keeping them here?
Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard acknowledges that there are a lot of clever foreigners who are considering leaving the country. “This number is way too high”, says the Minister.
Besides the Bachelor and Master graduates, who are unable to find the jobs, a number of PhDs, unable to find research positions, has increased, too. A number of international researchers coming to Denmark to do research has increased, but even more of them intend to leave the country after they finish their PhDs. According to a Danish National Audit Office, since 2003 universities have doubled the intake of PhD students in science, health and technology areas, however, due to poor university investigation which areas need researchers most, majority of them are forced to leave the country as they have troubles finding jobs after the graduation.
Young, qualified and jobless seems to have become a “tag” for a number graduates, who are not able to find jobs due to shortage of them. According to the research carried out in Europe, there are more than 5,5 million under 25-s without a work, and such numbers are growing every month. The official EU unemployment rate is now one in eight of the labor force. You might have heard the highly educated and jobless called “lost generation” since our parents, baby boomers, would usually remind us that education is a guarantee for the job… “My mother and father divorced when I was two, and my sister and I were raised by my mother, who had no education and kept blaming herself for that. That’s why she has always told me and my sister to study as hard as we can, and therefore a secure job with a satisfactory salary would be guaranteed”, says Clara, 25, who has spent 5 years in Denmark, out of which, 1, searching for a job. “I feel hopeless. It seems I have done everything I could. I can work anywhere and do anything. If you need a secretary, I will be a secretary. If you need an assistant, I will be an assistant. Just give me the job”, she says.
“I have always been a good student…”, starts her story Yin, 28, who has studied at Aarhus Business School. “I have always prioritized university and studied very hard but after I finished university I couldn’t find a job. I was told that I have no experience and no language skills and, even though I am educated, but I am not needed here”.
Another student from Aarhus School of Business, Kristina, told that she decided to go home since she thought that going back home would be easier. “My decision to go back to my home country Lithuania was based on a couple of motives. First of all, I came to Denmark considering and option to go back home at some point in my life. Besides, it is not very easy to be a fresh graduate in Denmark (especially if you want to work and not only collect the unemployment benefits) – companies are not interested in offering internships for the graduates and qualifications that I had were quite standard, where a native Danish speaker would always be preferred.”
Bye bye Denmark – welcome homeland, (again)
When foreigners, who came to Denmark hoping to stay in Denmark realize they cannot do so since job market is very touch, they realize that an option of coming home might be not bad at all, after all. “I couldn’t find a job and my mother started asking if I would like to come back to China. I was not very happy about it, but she knows someone who could help me getting the job and I am seriously thinking about it”, Yin revealed. “I am strongly considering coming back home even though I might need to do something else not completely related to what I have studied. I think that in such times with mass unemployment our expectations of job are lesser that they could be, and we are ready to take more or less satisfactory”.
However, in such case nearly no one expects to face a culture shock. It seems that you had a perfect plan – you moved to another country for a certain purpose and you decided to come back home; one thing to remember: more than a half of us feel a reverse culture shock when we return back home.You might think that feel that you are not fitting in to your home country, and it happens mostly having returned home after having lived abroad. “It was difficult to find a job in Denmark and I got a very good job offer in Romania. After having lived here for almost half a year I still feel a little stuck in between those two countries”, says Ionut, 32, who had worked in Copenhagen for a while and, after he lost his job, decided to come back to his homeland Romania.
Education might be the problem
If you have studied in university, you probably know that lecturers mostly teach theories, but there is no emphasis on practice whatsoever. You can actually finish the whole degree (Bachelor+Master), which will take you approximately 5 years, with zero practice. “We need modern schools with a focus on individual learning and practice. I think that education has to create a framework for the future job, especially in management and sales”, says a candidate for the city council, Theresa Blegvad. “I believe that Denmark needs more modern schools where homework would be based on projects. Pupils and students have to get prepared for the future in that way. They have to get hands on experience, not only practice”.
You might question in this case, what would and ideal college and university look like? No answer for such a complicated question could be provided. One thing that has become clear is, that university does not provide the same amount of value it did 10 or 20 years ago. The amount of graduates is raising with each year, we have more and more educated people, therefore the competition in the job market is incredibly high. Plus, due to the the fact that people now live longer – one can realize that they work longer, too. A solution? Creative teaching and creative job search, I suppose…
Joshua Persky, who tied a sandwich board to his body and got a job
Photo by Bita Honarvar
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