Looking for highly-skilled foreigners

Momondo online marketing manager Kasper Hove works alongside Iuliana Orzan at their office on Amagertorv in Copenhagen.

I’ve met far too many highly-skilled people here in Denmark who are not working in their chosen profession. Granted, these are challenging times and the financial crisis seems to be slowly infecting the country. But should an Indian doctor really be packing boxes in a warehouse when he could be saving lives? And should a social scientist really be washing dishes in a restaurant instead of putting her well-trained mind to good use within politics or the local community?

In most countries I’ve worked in there isn’t much love for foreigners coming in and ‘stealing’ jobs from the local workforce. Many people, understandably, argue that those who are born and bred in a country deserve the right to be offered the work there first. Although I understand this reasoning, I also disagree strongly with it.

When an employer chooses the native speaker over the person who is more qualified / skilled / experienced does that really make any sense, or is it just favouritism? If you owned your own company, who would you want working for you? Someone who gets the job done quickly and efficiently, or someone who hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing but at least they’re local? The advantage of having foreigners amongst your workforce is that they can bring a whole range of very different skills to the fold, language being one of them.

Enter Casper Hernandez Cortez – a man who realises the importance of getting highly-skilled individuals back in to the workforce. From his office at Copenhagen Language Center, Casper is well-placed to be amongst foreign people who are trying to find their way back in to a career they have studied for. Casper is part of Jobpakken – a voluntary organisation that is growing and already has important Danish connections in the business world. In 2012 Jobpakken collaborated with successful online flight-search-engine company Momondo, based in Copenhagen. Based on Casper’s recommendations, the company’s managers agreed to Jobpakken’s proposal of interviewing Iuliana Orzan – a highly skilled Romanian online-marketing specialist, residing in Copenhagen.

But Momondo’s online-marketing manager Kasper Hove admits that he was sceptical at first when Jobpakken first contacted him regarding Iuliana. “We thought if someone from the municipality came and wanted to sell us a candidate, then this was because this someone was on subsidies and had been pushed into a job,” he said. “We thought that probably this person was not motivated enough and could not find a job by herself. But then we saw Iuliana and we were blown away.”

He continues: “Before Jobpakken became involved, we thought it was impossible to find such a qualified specialist here in Copenhagen. We thought that to find a candidate like this, who also knows the foreign market and speaks foreign languages, you should go to London. We were really in need of such a person, but the recruitment process would take a lot of time and money.”

But there was another reason Momondo were attracted to the idea of  hiring Iuliana: the opportunity to employ her first as a trainee and then as a løntilskud.

“Momondo is a small online internet company and at the point when we hired Juliana we were only 25 in total,” explains Kasper. “Adding a new person working full time would mean a big investment for us. Hiring Iuliana as a løntilskud meant that half of her salary would be paid by the municipality. We saw this as a kind of guarantee from Jobpakken, that what they were selling to us was really worth something.”

After 3 months presence on the Romanian market, we achieved better results than 2 years of struggle on the French market; and this was due only to the fact that we had a Romanian speaking person in our team in Copenhagen,” explains Kasper.

“We know now that there are many foreign candidates with a very strong academic and professional background here in Copenhagen. We simply did not know how to find them. Now we know where to find them and how to get started. A few days ago, Pia [Vemmelund, CEO of Momondo] came back from [Jobpakken’s] “Skills and growth” event and she was very impressed by how highly-skilled the candidates she met there were.”

“When thinking of the Jobpakken networking project I see a huge opportunity for other Danish companies.”

For more information on Jobpakken, please visit http://www.facebook.com/Jobpakken

Thanks to Roumiana Stefanova for providing quotes and information for this blog entry