Why ‘Everyone’ is Learning a Scandi Language
Since Denmark was named the happiest country in the world in 2013, and Nordic Noir TV and film has gained not only a huge cult following, but a huge mainstream following, with the transmission of Forbrydelsen (The Killing) in 2011, Cactus Language Training has seen a significant increase in demand for Scandinavian languages, particularly Danish and Swedish.
Sweden, and in particular Denmark, offer better health care, better support for parents and the elderly, government supported and actualised gender quality, and the concept of ‘hygge’ which has not only been embraced by Instagram users but also perfectly combats any negative talk of ‘limited daylight’ and ‘long winters’. Scandinavia is popular – and not just on social media. An increasing number of international companies and expats are relocating to Scandinavian countries, and as a result we have seen a significant increase in professionals and individuals learning Swedish and Danish over the past couple of years.
The celebrated benefits of living in these countries, along with the growing number of career opportunities offered to foreign skilled workers can explain this spike of interest for these niche languages. In Sweden, the native Swedish working population has been shrinking by 22,000 people per year since 2008. Similarly, an analysis published by Danish online magazine Ugebrevet A4 has found that non-Danes filled only half of new positions in Denmark. This employment gap is being filled by workers from overseas who see and understand the many advantages of living in a country where 87% of people vote and democracy is truly practised.
How the Danes do it: Work-Life Balance
It is not uncommon for Danes to adjust their working hours based on their family’s needs. Most workers hurry home after finishing work on time and family members normally eat dinner together. It is quite usual for Danes to live close to their place of work which means that less time is spent on commuting. Danes value their spare time highly and in turn this is respected. When the Danes work, they work intensively but they leave early, compared to the UK, in order to go home and enjoy their free-time. They do not equate long working hours with increased productivity and it’s not necessary to stay in the office late in order to get a promotion. People in higher positions often have the opportunity to work flexible hours to make their working lives fit around their other needs and they also have the right to five weeks’ holiday a year, of which three weeks can be taken consecutively during the school summer vacation period.
Doesn’t Everyone Speak English?
Whilst English is widely spoken across Scandinavia, professionals relocating to these countries often need demonstrate a good command of the local language in order to secure a role or a promotion. Being able to speak the local language is essential in order to communicate with colleagues at all levels and liaise with local companies where English is not a working language. Having a good knowledge of the language also improves their daily life as expats and helps them integrate, complete daily life tasks and administration, and make friends with the locals.
Why Are Scandinavian Countries So Attractive for Business?
Low interest rates in Denmark and Sweden mean that the population has a higher purchasing power, stimulating consumption and economic growth. The relative weakness of the national currencies makes Nordic companies competitive on international markets. According to recent World Economic Forum figures, Sweden is the 9th most competitive economy in Europe, closely followed by Denmark, ranked 12th. In addition, both economies offer an ecosystem that favours innovation. Leading Scandinavian companies including IKEA, Spotify, Lego and Ericsson, have all benefited from strong investments in research and development.
Which Sectors Are Recruiting?
The service sector is where the demand for foreign professionals is the highest. Pharmaceutics, biotechnology, telecoms, IT, consulting, education and health-care are key industries across Denmark and Sweden. As a result, engineers, teachers, medical professionals, researchers, and IT specialists are all actively sought after by Nordic companies to fill gaps in particular skills. Major global companies recruiting expats include AstraZeneca, Electrolux, Maersk and Carlsberg. The construction sector is booming as investments in housing are set to soar over the coming year. Other growing sectors include the wind turbine industry and green technologies.
Make the Move, Learn the Language
If you feel learning Danish or Swedish would open new career opportunities then get started with a Danish or Swedish evening language course in the UK, or a Danish or Swedish business language course at your place of work or home
Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:
Evening language courses: 19 different languages in 15 UK locations
Language holidays: worldwide immersion courses in the country of the language
Private tuition: tailor-made and corporate language training solutions throughout the world
TEFL: teacher training courses for both English and other languages all over the world
Online courses: for teacher training, English and French