Two years ago I posted a two-part story on immigrating to Denmark (see here and here), complete with tips, advice, and links to the main websites that can be of help to someone considering a move to this country. One government scheme I mentioned – The Positive List, as it is called – has just been updated. The professions included in this list are those in which Denmark lacks a sufficient number of qualified workers. While the list has changed over the years I have been here (there were a lot more job titles on it in 2012, including some social science degree-related ones, which gave me false hope at the beginning of my job search in Denmark), some of the job titles have remained the same. Steady favourites are various types of engineers, IT specialists, teachers, and medical workers.
People come to Denmark for many different reasons: to work or to study, for family, for refuge, or for love. Each person’s experience is different, and your circumstances, background, attitude, and resources, as well as a degree of luck, all play into how you view your time here, to what degree you integrate to Danish society, and how long you stay. This is a story of three job seekers from three different countries who are trying to capture in interviews and art how immigrants to Aalborg view their role in Danish society, how well integrated they consider themselves to be, and what contributes to their feeling of being integrated – or not.
UPDATE: On 1 July 2017, yet another law on Danish language learning entered into force in Denmark; some of this law will not come into force until 1 January 2018. You can find out about this new law – which includes a requirement that students (except au pairs, asylum seekers, and those living in Denmark through the family-reunification policy) pay a deposit of 1250kr for their lessons and a rule that students have 3.5 years within a 5-year period to learn the language – here. Please note that much of what you will read below is already out-of-date since 2015/2016, when Aalborg began receiving asylum seekers again.
Danish is Denmark’s national language. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that newcomers to the country are expected to (and many want to!) learn it once they make a commitment to live here. However, Danish is not what many would call an easy language to learn* – at least if you are talking about the difference between the written and spoken language. For example, how many people with no knowledge of Danish would guess that the word spelled ‘V-E-J’ (which means ‘way’ in English) is pronounced ‘VY’? Certainly not the woman on my GPS, who pronounces it ‘VEG’ (as in the British word for ‘vegetables’.) Which is why it’s a good idea to study the language formally – at the very least to get a grip on the basics…
Are you a non-EU citizen who would like to immigrate to Denmark? If so, there are many options available to you – especially if you are highly educated and/or work in a profession that currently lacks qualified Danes. As I wrote in my 9 December 2013 post (International Citizen Service in Aalborg: A one-stop shop for foreign residents), Denmark faces a growing shortage of educated and trained workers in several sectors, including medicine, engineering, IT, and miscellaneous academic fields (lawyers, statisticians, actuaries, etc.) People with qualifications in these areas have a jump on others but there are also opportunities to immigrate to Denmark outside these fields. Let’s start with the main work permit schemes…
Immigration to Aalborg is on the rise. According to official statistics by Aalborg Kommune, the number of immigrants, foreign nationals and their children in Aalborg has steadily risen since 2008. People come for myriad reasons: to work; to study at Aalborg University and University College Nordjylland; to marry; to seek asylum; to join family members already living here. While I do not have a breakdown of those who settle in the kommune of Aalborg, over half of Danish residence permits granted in 2012 came from EU/EEA countries (top 5 countries, in order: Poland, Romania, Germany, Lithuania, and Bulgaria). The largest number of people seeking residence here from outside the EU in 2012 originated from the USA, India, China, Ukraine and the Philippines (in that order).