Building a diverse workplace
The Korta vägen placement program has helped international talent get settled into Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean in Sweden, contributing towards a more diverse, global workforce. Recent hire Karla Ryden shares her experience.
A difficult job market for foreigners
Karla Ryden’s story is typical of many new arrivals to Sweden. Having met her Swedish husband in her home country of Mexico, the couple decided to relocate to Sweden to start their family.
However, once the children were in the Swedish daycare system, Karla found it difficult to access the job market. “I had seven years’ experience in logistics for international companies in Mexico, but I struggled because of my lack of fluent Swedish,” she says.
A friend from Colombia told her about Korta vägen, a training program for skilled foreign workers from Swedish universities and the Swedish Public Employment Service, and encouraged Karla to apply. A university degree is required and spaces are limited, but Karla was accepted.
Welcome to Sweden
“The program was really helpful for me because they focused on teaching you about Swedish working life, from how to behave and how to network through to the best way to present your CV,” she says.
Following the short classroom-based training, participants are given the opportunity to work in short three-month apprenticeships within Swedish companies, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen.
HR Manager Victoria Larsson explains that Korta vägen has proved an excellent way of bringing new energy and ideas into the company.
The more diverse our workforce is, the more our people feel able to be themselves and perform. As a global company with English as a working language, we have a lot to offer newcomers to Sweden.
She also believes it’s a lesson that can be learned in other countries. “As we have no requirement for employees to speak Swedish, we have the opportunity to tap into a talent pool that many other local companies overlook. Many of our managers here were born outside Sweden and many have been through similar challenges, so all of us believe in this program.”
Karla Ryden and Victoria Larsson
More than just a placement
While the purpose of the program is to see what it’s like to work in a Swedish company, improve Swedish language skills, and get work experience for your CV, the program offers far more for many participants. A Stockholm University study showed that almost two-thirds of participants got a job within their field after finishing the program.
As such, after a short introduction, Karla was given real responsibility in the pricing team. “Things work differently here from Mexico so I needed to learn about lashing cargo, vessel specifications, and the equipment fleet, but after less than one month I was given real work to do,” she says.
Karla also spent time in transshipment and after having her contract extended several times, she joined WW Ocean on a permanent basis.
A friendly place to work
Now Karla feels fully settled into life at WW Ocean and is enjoying her role in Customer and Cargo Co-ordination. Her Swedish is also coming along, which she says is important for the social aspect.
We have 18 nationalities in the office so we all use English as the working language. However, it’s really important to pick up Swedish as it is still the language of socialising.
“This is a fantastic company to work for, with a really nice international atmosphere in the office. Even during my placement period, I was made to feel a part of things such as attending the Christmas party and even receiving a present. There was never any division, and that was a really important thing for me,” she adds.