According to DI’s surveys, every third highly educated expat leaves Denmark within three years while half are gone after six. This has a high cost – both for companies and for society.

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12.09.19 DIB News

“Good working hours - but difficult to make friends with Danes”

Expats have a hard time settling in but love Danish family life. In the Expat Insider 2019 survey, Denmark has fallen 13 ranks to 48 out of 64. “Hold on to highly educated expats, the companies need them,” says Head of DI Global Talent Linda Duncan Wendelboe.

If you ask expats living and working in Denmark what they think of life here, the responses are mixed:

“The world’s best in terms of working hours. Third best with regard to childcare options. But one of the world’s most difficult countries to settle in.” These are among the responses in the Expat Insider 2019 survey. 

The responses place Denmark in an overall 48th place out of 64 in total. That is a 13-rank drop compared to last year’s 35th place.

Highly educated expats make a significant contribution to the public purse. Linda Duncan Wendelboe, Chef for Medlemsrelationer og SMV-indsatser

At DI Global Talent, Director Linda Duncan Wendelboe notes that in Denmark’s case, the survey is based on responses from around just 200 expats, but that many of the responses are nonetheless familiar.

“These are strengths and weaknesses we also hear about from companies. Denmark provides the frameworks for a good family life, but we’re less good at opening up and inviting international employees into our lives outside working hours,” she says.

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We need them

It is the sixth consecutive year that the expat organisation InterNation has surveyed approximately 20,000 expats all over the world about their experiences in their new home away from home.

Taiwan comes in first place, followed by Vietnam and Portugal in second and third respectively. Kuwait comes in last, and no Scandinavian country lies within the top 10.

Linda Duncan Wendelboe points out that it is vital for Danish companies to attract and retain highly educated foreign employees.

“Their competencies are in high demand among Danish companies, especially in light of how difficult it is for companies to find sufficient qualified workforce at home,” says the head of DI Global Talent.

See also: Egyptian director: I want to bring Danish employee trust home

Quick departures have a high cost

In the Expat Insider 2019 survey, expats respond that it is extremely difficult to settle in Denmark. Here, Denmark ranks 63rd out of 64 in total. 

In addition, 70 per cent say that it is difficult to make friends with Danes. And in the “feeling at home” category, Denmark nearly hits the bottom with a 62nd place.

And it is unfortunate if exterior circumstances cause expats to quit their jobs and pack their bags - both for companies and for society, says DI’s Head of Global Talent, Linda Duncan Wendelboe.

“International recruitment is expensive and a quick departure results in a loss of expertise for companies. But it is also a loss for Denmark, because highly educated expats make a significant contribution to the public purse. They pay taxes on high wages and only draw on public services to a limited degree,” she explains.

Fortunately, providing a warm welcome and ensuring retainment of international employees are in focus, both among companies and in many municipalities around the country.

“Great efforts are being made to welcome new international residents and integrate them in club life. Odense, for example, has partnered with the sports association DGI to introduce expats to local recreational opportunities,” says Head of DI Global Talent.

According to DI’s surveys, every third highly educated expat leaves Denmark within three years. After six years half are gone, but subsequently things flatten out and after 10 years 40 per cent are still in the country.

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Karen Witt Olsen
Written by:

Karen Witt Olsen

Linda Duncan Wendelboe

Linda Duncan Wendelboe

Head of DI Global Talent

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