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Why Lund is finding jobs for expat spouses

Published fredag 12 maj kl 16.11
Official: If the spouse doesn't thrive, the employee goes home
(6:31 min)
Sumita from India and other participants listen to a lecture on Swedish work culture.
Sumita from India and other participants listen to a lecture on Swedish work culture. Credit: Richard Orange

With its high-tech industries and two particle accelerator facilities, the city of Lund is desperate to attract highly qualified expats from across the world. It's now even helping get jobs for their husbands and wives.

The European Spallation Source, a research facility with the most powerful linear particle accelerator in the world, is now under construction, drawing top scientists from 48 countries. 

Max IV, which boasts the brightest X-ray source in the world, was inaugurated in December. 

Multinational companies such as Alfa Laval, Ericsson, and Active Biotech, rely on being able to hire an international workforce. 

But according to Susanne Mattsson, business development manager at Invest in Skåne, which attracts investment to the region, too many international hires leave after only a few years. 

The reason? Their husbands or wives can't get jobs. 

"If the spouse doesn't thrive here and doesn't get a job, very often the employee goes back to their home country," she told Radio Sweden. "In order to keep the employee, it's important to facilitate for the spouses to enter the job market in the region." 

To help international families get established, Lund's municipal government has launched the International Citizen Hub Lund to help with schools and housing. 

This year it launched Kick-Start, an 11-week program which helps spouses of international hires get jobs.

The program is based around a series of lectures and meetings, which, among other things, teach international people how to do the networking which is essential to enter the Swedish job market, 

Suzanne Smith was until recently a production manager at a nuclear laboratory in the US. But when her husband got a senior position at ESS, she had to resign. 

She has found getting work in Sweden "impossible". 

"To stay long-term, you want to be integrated into the Swedish environment," she said. "So if you can't do that, you will lose interest in wanting to stay long-term."

Seven out of the eight participants in last year's pilot scheme got jobs, and the eighth started their own company. 

On Friday, the first full intake finished their course. Six have already got jobs, two are starting their own companies, and many of the others have interviews.

"My ambition is that by half way through the program, half of them get jobs," said Lisa Andersson, talent attraction developer for Lund municipality, who runs the program. "That would be wonderful."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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