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Bridging the Cultural Gap Between Syrian Refugees and their Prospective Danish Employers

Posted on February 7, 2017

Bridging the Cultural Gap Between Syrian Refugees and their Prospective Danish Employers

Bridging the Cultural Gap - sub head image

In collaboration with the Municipality of Kolding, Aperian Global wrapped up a series of pro-bono training sessions to help Syrian refugees integrate into Danish society, while equipping potential employers and municipal workers with the cross-cultural skills to ease integration.

After a full-day spent participating in our Thriving In A New Culture workshop with 17 other Syrian refugees, Mohammed, 27 years old, stated:

“It was so valuable to learn about the cultural differences in the country where we so badly want to get jobs. I came today expecting to hear about Danish culture but instead you actually asked us our points of view and listened to the everyday challenges and misunderstandings that we face. In my three years in Denmark, it was the first time I experienced this.”

Thriving In a New Culture typically equips international assignees and their families with the concrete skills, knowledge, and strategies needed to thrive abroad while working and living on a short- or long-term assignment. In this case, we adapted our content to help Syrian refugees permanently integrate into their new homes in Denmark.

Training Local Companies

In addition to training Syrian refugees, Aperian Global conducted a Working Globally training for representatives of companies in the Kolding region. These potential future employers came from a variety of companies, including a large supermarket conglomerate, a public swimming pool, and a transportation company. You may wonder why it’s necessary to train a Danish company in Denmark on global work skills, but dealing with a diverse workforce and getting ready to employ suitable candidates from the refugee community has an impact on everyone involved, not just the refugees. Our main objective was to give local organizations a better understanding of what it takes to reap the full benefit of their new employees, what to expect from cross-cultural teams, and how best to prepare all sides of the equation. Finally, all representatives developed an understanding of the (positive) impact of having Syrian refugees join the local workforce.

Training Local Job Consultants and Social Workers

Additionally, Aperian Global and the Municipality of Kolding held a second Working Globally training for job consultants and social workers to better support Syrian refugees on their paths of integrating into Danish society and finding jobs. The municipality employees heightened their understanding of how culture impacts our interactions, and they built communication and cross-cultural skills to bridge the gaps in values, attitudes, and behavior. Participants completed action plans at the end of the day with personalized action items of what they will start, stop, and continue doing to help the refugee community start new lives in Denmark.

Our mission at Aperian Global is to enable individuals, teams and organizations to work effectively across boundaries. Giving back to the local community of Kolding, where one of our global offices is located, was an honor and privilege for our organization.

Participants in all three training sessions were given free access to our GlobeSmart ProfileSM as a tool to understand the differences between Danish and Syrian work and communication styles. Providing our expertise and tools to enable refugees, potential employers, and municipal employees to understand and bridge their cultural gaps was a satisfying and enriching experience for all involved.

Anja Stentoft Jacobsen, one of Aperian Global’s facilitators, stated:

“It has been a privilege to work with Kolding Kommune on this project and all participants have really been open to investigating the topic and how it can be applied to their own realities. Providing a deeper understanding of the concept of culture and its impact on how we meet and interact with people from a different cultural background left the participants with impactful learning opportunities. We had some wonderful discussions on the topics like Danish work culture, how we raise our children, and how we form our social lives. I hope we get to see more work of this nature in the future, not only in terms of the output for participants and the municipalities, but also as a signal that this is an important area that needs attention and can have a positive impact on the successful integration of refugees.”

We were so touched by the impact the workshop had on the participants’ awareness and belief in bridge-building – a few of us may have even shed a few tears. We thank the Municipality of Kolding for their partnership and support!

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