Driving efficiency through understanding
Danish law requires municipalities to ensure migrants join the workforce under a tight timeline. Following the 2015 migration crisis in Europe, Kolding kommune, a municipality in Denmark, recognized the integration efforts which had been employed for decades during a steady flow of immigration would not suffice with the sudden high rise of asylum seekers.
Traditionally, the gateway to the job market for asylum seekers was Danish language school combined with job training. This process often keeps migrants in school for years, while their motivation for job entry drops.
Aperian Global worked in collaboration with Kolding to design and deliver an in-depth workshop for Syrian refugees entering the workforce. The workshop, called Bridging The Cultural Gap, was presented in Arabic and designed with the helpful input of municipal leaders, business consultants, and social workers. Following the workshops, refugee participants each had two individual coaching sessions with an Aperian Global cross-cultural specialist.
Additionally, Aperian Global developed a specialized workshop for a select group of employees at the municipality and mentor groups that work with refugees, as well as leaders of corporate companies that could be potential employers of new migrants.
Of the 60 participants who took part in Bridging The Cultural Gap workshops and coaching sessions 44% currently have a job or internship. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many participants expressing the relief of finally seeing and understanding the cultural gaps that had caused them confusion, frustration, and misunderstandings in both private and professional contexts. Several participants immediately took steps towards becoming successful in joining the Danish job market, for example, by putting aside their fear of failure and taking more individual initiative.
Employees at the municipality reported feeling better equipped for effective communication across cultures, and feeling empowered by the wide set of tools they had to employ in their daily cross-cultural interactions.