Copenhagen: How Do We Retain Skilled Immigrants?

May 25th, 2011

It’s the question asked in cities around the world. It may be one thing to attract skilled immigrants, but how can cities ensure they stay and not leave for other jurisdictions.

In Copenhagen, the Danish government asked MindLab to investigate this issue. MindLab describes itself as a “cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in developing new solutions for the public sector.” Made up of designers, sociologists, anthropologists and others with a public sector background, the group aims to create new ways to examine such problems.

An Inside Look

By using media like video to ask questions of recent immigrants about the problems they faced in adjusting to life in Denmark, MindLab was able to give policy-makers an inside look at the challenges faced by newcomers. One was  the inability to find free Danish-language classes easily in Copenhagen neighbourhoods. At the other end of the spectrum was the Danish system of having a list of approved names for newborn babies – a name too “different” would not be on the list!

MindLab found out that one of the reasons skilled immigrants left was simple: they felt isolated and lonely. To learn more, listen as Christian Bason, head of MindLab, tells the story of an Indian engineer in Copenhagen and the solutions they offered (this section of the talk runs for approximately 5 minutes).

Christian Bason was in Toronto sharing his experiences with MindLab at the MaRS Discovery District on May 9, 2011. The full talk includes an introduction as well as a Q&A.

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