Digital Talent in Denmark: The Crucial Role of Partner Employment in Retention
The number of digital talents in Denmark grew by 19% over the last three years, but struggles persist in retaining female and foreign digital talent. The employment status of a digital specialist's partner, particularly foreign partners, significantly influences their decision to remain in the country, underscoring the need to facilitate foreign partner integration into the job market.
In a recent survey Digital Hub Denmark and HBS Economics present the status of digital talent in Denmark.
In the survey, we see an increase of 19% in digital talent in the labour market in the last three years. We also notice a rise in the number of foreign digital talent; however the underrepresentation of female talent persists.
“There is an underrepresentation of females in the digital talent pool. Females make up only 30% of the digital workforce in Denmark, rising to 38% among foreign talent. With gender equality a priority, we must attract more female talent to bridge this gap,” says Jakob Lindmark Frier, director of communications at Digital Hub Denmark.
Since 2014, there has been a positive net inflow of digital talent to Denmark. 2022 marked the highest level over the past decade with a net inflow of just under 1,000 talents. In other words, in 2022 alone just under 2,700 digital talents travelled into Denmark, while just over 1,700 digital talents left.
tech talents in Denmark in 2022.
female digital talents in Denmark.
of the talent consists of internationals.
Despite the increase of digital talents in the overall workforce, we are yet to see an improvement in the number of females and foreign talent. Considering the shortage of the digital workforce in Denmark, there would be advantages in exploring ways to enhance retention.
“If we want Denmark to become a melting pot for knowledge, ideas and new technology we need the most talented people. We need international students and expats to come to Denmark and stay here. That requires a renewed and stronger commitment to making life less difficult and more attractive for those who wish to pursue a career in Denmark,” says Nikolaj Juncher Wædergaard, Vice President of Digital Policy, Technology and Telecoms at Danish Chamber of Commerce.
Partner employment status key to retaining talent
In this year’s survey we dive into another issue, the duration of digital talent moving to Denmark. It’s no secret that Denmark has struggled to retain foreign digital talent once they arrive. The survey suggests, that one of the reasons digital specialists leave Denmark is related to their partner’s employment status.
“There's intense global competition for IT talents. While Denmark has become more appealing to these specialists, retention remains a challenge. Enhancing employment opportunities for their partners can influence how long they stay, as a partner's employment is crucial to their decision,” says Andreas Espersen, head of digitisation policy at Danish Industries.
“If we want to be able to compete against other tech hubs in Europe and attract the international talent needed to stimulate the massive growth potential among Danish tech companies, it’s time we reflect on what we can do to be more inclusive towards foreign digital talent and their partners. These represent an often overlooked source of talent which is easy to tap into,” says Frier.
In fact, a staggering 25 percent of foreign digital specialists who arrived to Denmark between 2010 and 2018 left the country after less than a year. Those who come with a Danish partner are two times more likely to stay at least 5 years in Denmark than those without partners. Similarly, if they come with a foreign partner they are also more like to stay longer than 5 years.
Although this may sound positive, its important to note that for foreign digital talent coming to Denmark with their foreign partners, there is one big determining factor on whether they will remain in Denmark for a longer period of time: their partner’s employment status.
It seems that foreign partners are struggling to integrate into the labour market once here. Only 53% are employed compared to 94% of Danish partners. For the digital specialists moving here, this means that if their partner is employed (regardless of them being foreign or Danish) about 80% will remain in Denmark for longer than 5 years. On the contrary, if their partner is unemployed, then only 31% will remain in Denmark for that same period of time.
In order to keep digital talent in the country, we need to ensure foreign partners can integrate into the job market.