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Specialised network helps partners of Stockholm’s global talent land jobs

The Stockholm Dual Career Network is a 600-strong network for the partners and spouses of international talent in Stockholm. Run by the Stockholm Academic Forum, an organisation consisting of all 18 universities in Stockholm together with the City of Stockholm, the Network arranges career activities, recruitment events, social activities and Swedish language courses.

After four years in a long-distance relationship, Sharulatha Ravisankar was excited to finally join her husband in Stockholm. With a master’s degree in Nanoscience and Technology and over three years of research experience, she anticipated soon landing a job.

“After coming to Sweden without friends or a network, you can feel lost. Since I was very strong with my academic background and the Swedish Council for Higher Education recognised my education from India, I should have at least got a basic position,” says Sharulatha.

She soon realised it wasn’t a lack of experience or education that was holding her back, but rather a lack of connections. Eight out of 10 jobs in Sweden are given to existing contacts, hampering the job-seeking efforts of newcomers.

As a PhD student at KTH, Sharulatha’s husband was introduced to the university’s relocation service. Through this service, the couple discovered the Stockholm Dual Career Network, a 600-strong network for the partners and spouses of international talent in Stockholm. Run by the Stockholm Academic Forum, an organisation consisting of all 18 universities in Stockholm together with the City of Stockholm, the Network arranges career activities, recruitment events, social activities and Swedish language courses.

“From our experience, it’s very tricky to get a job without a network,” says senior strategist Sophia Wallin, who is responsible for the network. “Many of our members also meet their first friends in Sweden through the network, and thereby make connections which lead to jobs.”

While initially started to help the universities retain talent by assisting their spouses and partners to enter the Swedish job market, it soon became clear that Stockholm Dual Career Network was more widely needed. In 2017, it was opened up to companies and the likes of King, Spotify, and Truecaller have since become affiliated.

“Swedish companies do not understand that it’s important to offer this support if they want to attract and retain their international employees. For the accompanying partners, I am convinced that the combination of Swedish training, social activities and career-related events is what has made Stockholm Dual Career Network so successful.”

Supporting the growth of foreign companies

Stockholm Dual Career Network immediately came to Ylva Hultman’s mind while she was working with French biotech company Valneva on this year’s Advanced Therapeutics Manufacturing and Life Science report. Life sciences is booming in the Stockholm region, but the sector desperately needs more manpower to continue its upward trajectory.

“It’s crucial to provide manufacturing companies with a talented workforce,” says Ylva, who works with business development at Invest Stockholm. “Valneva needed talent so I thought why don’t we use our contacts to connect them?”

Thanks to established relationships and networks, Invest Stockholm can be flexible in its support of expansion and establishment of foreign companies. Ylva reached out to Maria Fogelström Kylberg, CEO at Stockholm Academic Forum, to discuss the opportunity, which the pair agreed was a good fit for all parties.

“The more we can support the partners of people coming here, the better it is for everyone,” says Maria. “It is a bad and expensive investment for a company or organisation to recruit someone and not take care of the partner since they have to take into consideration the whole family situation. We know that 85% of talent are ready to leave Stockholm if their partners don’t find a job after a year.”

The collaboration took the shape of an online recruitment event designed to connect members of Stockholm Dual Career Network with the HR team at Valneva. Members were able to interact with the company and ask questions, putting faces to names and facilitating new professional connections.

Sharulatha received the invite via the Network’s digital calendar and jumped at the opportunity. She approached HR after the event to express her interest, and a couple of months later landed a full-time contract.

“It’s been a dream for me to work for a company like Valneva. It’s been the perfect place for me and I admire the company’s strong commitment to equality. Stockholm Dual Career Network was really helpful, they organised lots of events. It’s good to have people to share the experience with.”

It’s not just Sharulatha who has reaped the benefits of Invest Stockholm’s efforts to connect companies with talent. Valneva Sweden AB’s managing director Janet Hoogstraate admits it’s hard to find the talent the company needs in the existing talent pool. There’s an ever-increasing demand for both talent and diversity, she says, which simply can’t be found by advertising in the traditional ways.

“There are hurdles for people to find their way into the right channels,” says Janet. “Collaborations like these bring more diverse competence and experience than we can tap into if we recruit how we always recruit. It’s a win-win situation, as we also get to contribute to the international people who are coming to Sweden.”

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