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Welcome Festival builds up network for refugees in Denmark

With music, a warm welcome speech and big wooden letters saying “WELCOME FESTIVAL 2016”, Europe’s largest welcome party for refugees was launched in Copenhagen the 10th of September. The expectation is to create new job opportunities for asylum seekers in Denmark

By Marion Chen

Stands created by different NGO’s were placed side by side with hopeful companies and representatives from municipalities, looking for potential employees among more than 200 refugees. The many stands was created as a part of a big welcoming party for refugees hosted by Velkomst Festen in the big halls of Forum in the heart of Copenhagen.

Sidsel Theil, the manager of the Microsoft Strategy Department, organised the job matching area together with some of the other companies at the Velkomst Festen 2016. She came up with the idea, because her company suffers from a lack of qualified staff:

»There is a big shortage of IT-consultants in Denmark, so we have tried out different programs to create an interest among younger people. We also did it to to create awareness among unemployed people, who possess the necessary IT skills. Now it is time for refugees to come into IT, because we really need them in our labour market.«

Sidsel Theil got the idea together with her team at the Microsoft Office, while doing a project at a so-called CV-cafe:

»More than a hundred refugees showed up at the cafe, and we helped them create LinkedIn profiles and so on. Because of this experience, we realized that many of them were very skilled. At first, they might not have the exact the skills we are looking for, but we can retrain them and give them more skills. Today, we are retraining 14 refugees, so they can work with our software.«

At todays event, Sidsel Theil expects to get a lot of new CV’s for her company, but she also hopes that the festival can be an eyeopener for other companies in Denmark:

» We hope that other companies will realize that refugees can be a very strong resource for their companies – Just like we experienced. We want to make sure that the refugees are at the same level as the Danes, when they apply for a job, and they know what a CV is. We need to make sure that they are well prepared and structured for a job interview. We want to help as many as possible.«

Thomas Hübettz is the head of HR of Egmont. He is looking for refugees to hire, so they can work at Egmont in the production of an E-book. Egmont is represented af the big festival to create a bridge between potential employees and the labour market:

»It’s a great way to get a good working experience in Denmark, and it’s a great opportunity for us to hire new, valuable staff. We are a company, who tries to help a lot of people, so it makes a lot of sense also to help people who come to Denmark in a difficult situation.«

According to Thomas Hübettz, around 30 people have shown interrest at the welcoming party. He hopes to meet refugees who are willing to work in Denmark:

»I expect to meet people, who are willing to get a job, and then, hopefully, we will have a chance to have a great talk, which will help us figure out if there is a possible job match. This party makes it possible to see people face-to-face, and you will get to know their personalities a little before you see their CV’s.«

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Refugees and employers are working together to create a better future

Helle Ballentin is manager of Kastrup Language Center. She’s at the big festival to create awareness about the necessity to learn Danish, if refugees want to enter the Danish labor market.

»It’s important to make opportunities of learning Danish visible for the refugees. To function in the Danish society and get a job, you need to speak Danish. Moreover, this could be an opportunity for us to network. We like to be and get in contact with other companies, who have the same goals as us, because it’s very important to support refugees in getting a job.«

Helle Ballentin works a center, who teaches in both English and Danish. She hopes that her presence today can help raise awareness about the fundamental needs of language-skills among refugees and employers:

»The refugees attending the classes also have work beside their language studies, so they are working and learning Danish at the same time. We also expect to handle out information, so the refugees knows about the opportunity. Hopefully, we can make new connections to other companies, who would like cooperate with us about on how we help foreigners in Denmark to get a better job as fast as possible. This would help companies and it would help the employees too. That would be great!«

Kirsten Reiner is the head of the library of the Dignity Danish Institute Against Torture, has been working for the Dignity Danish Institute for 20 years. She is spreading the word about the discrimination, torture and anti-torture movement at the Festival today.

»This party it is about the services that we have at the Dignity institute. Both refugees and asylum seekers can obtain information from us. This could help them a lot! We have services of psychology and physical help and social work. So people can come here and get a professional screening, so we can talk about what they have experienced with torture, and whether we are able to help them.«

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More than 200 refugees showed up at the festival

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