Building a diverse workplace

The Korta vägen placement programme helps international talent get settled into WW Ocean in Sweden, contributing towards a more diverse, global workforce. Here, one employee shares her experience.

Karla Ryden

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 programme for skilled foreign workers from Swedish universities and the Swedish Public Employment Service, and encouraged Karla to apply.

Welcome to Sweden

“The programme 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,” Karla says.

Following classroom-based training, participants are given the opportunity to work three-month apprenticeships within Swedish companies, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

HR manager Victoria Larsson believes that Korta vägen is an excellent way of bringing new energy and ideas into the company. “As we have no requirement for employees to speak Swedish at Wallenius Wilhelmsen, 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 programme.”

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.

Victoria Larsson

HR manager

More than just a placement

While the purpose of the programme is to see what it’s like to work in a Swedish company, improve Swedish language skills and get work experience for your CV, it offers far more for many participants. A Stockholm University study has found that almost two-thirds of participants got a job within their field after finishing the programme.

This was also Karla’s experience, and after a short introduction, she was given real responsibility in the pricing team. “Things work differently here than in Mexico so I needed to learn about lashing cargo, vessel specifications and the equipment fleet, but after less than one month I was set to work on actual projects,” she says.

Karla has also worked with the transshipment team and after having her contract extended several times, she joined WW Ocean on a permanent basis.

Victoria Larsson and Karla Ryden

Karla Ryden and Victoria Larsson

A friendly place to work

Today, 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 of her job.

We have 21 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.

Karla Ryden

“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.

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