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Foreign Nationals are Good for Innovation

“The Danish IT job market is unable to support us, so we are heavily reliant on getting foreign nationals in,” says Lene Baia, head of Danske Bank's Development Centre in Brabrand.

17. Dec 2019
3 min
Af Maria Evald
maev@baaa.dk

​Over the past few years, Ahmet from Turkey, Iustin from Romania, Mayam from Iran and Alexandru from Moldova have entered the offices of the red brick building that houses Danske Bank's Development Centre Aarhus in Brabrand.

Even though they all come from different parts of the world, they have a common ground in digital competences.

Lene Baia is Development Director for the Retail Investment IT department at Danske Bank. She is responsible for 100 IT workers, primarily software engineers, who are spread throughout offices in Denmark, India and Lithuania.

Lene Baia hires an average of 20 new specialists per year and consciously focuses on taking non-Danish speaking labour in.

"I started recruiting IT specialists with a foreign background four years ago. The Danish IT job market is unable to support us, so we are heavily reliant on getting foreign nationals in," she says.

According to Lene Baia, getting a German, Iranian or Croat into the office is good for business. 

"Apart from providing us with the necessary IT strengths, having several nationalities in the same workplace is also a bonus for innovation. It sounds like a cliché, but diversity makes work more fun and gives better results. 

No need to pay special consideration

For Lene Baia, taking a foreign national on board is not something that requires more effort than if the person had a beetroot coloured passport.

"I don't use more time just because the person in question is from another country," says Lene Baia and elaborates:

It is completely natural for us that everyone is equal, regardless of whether they were born in Denmark or somewhere else or speak the same language or not."

"It has never been a major thing for me to employ a foreign national. But I don't dramatize it either. I focus solely on professional expertise - the tasks. Colleagues may be a little hesitant to start with and think: Oh no, do we have to speak English and pay special consideration now? But the new employee then proves to be competent and able to deliver. They subsequently forget the fact that he or she is from Iran, Canada or Lithuania - they are then just part of the team."

Lene Baia adds:

"Practical training regarding the language must of course be in place. Our employees are therefore provided with courses in English, as the working language in the group is English."

Several Foreign Nationals at Business Academies

Several hundred English-speaking graduates are educated at the country's eight business academies on an annual basis. They come to Denmark from all over the world to receive an education together with the Danish students. The majority of them wish to remain and work in Denmark. They must undergo practical training during their studies and several of them gain employment through this. Among others, the business academies educate financial economists, financial bachelors, IT technologists, web developers, digital concept developers and information technologists.