• Sweden edition
 
JobTalk Sweden
'Expat wives: Sweden's untapped resource'
An Indian busineswoman. File photo: Shutterstock

'Expat wives: Sweden's untapped resource'

Published: 16 May 2014 13:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 May 2014 13:42 GMT+02:00

Virpal Singh spent a year working for a big IT consultancy before he wondered why he was taking assignments rather than finding assignments, not only for himself, but for others. 

"Why not do it myself?" he recalls thinking, before setting off to network as much as he possible could.

"You're just one in a million, how do you stand out?" he says. "If you want to get anywhere, you have to apply pressure, you have to be a bit annoying." 

Within three months, he had landed an assignment  for himself with Scandia bank and H&M. But he wasn't about to stop there. His go-it-alone gung-ho coincided with an observation from his social life. It dawned on Singh that many of the Indian-born IT consultants who'd arrived in Sweden had gone back home to bring back wives.

"There's an extreme amount of Indian IT consultants here, and they are always men," he says. "But when they get married - often to female IT consultants - the wife comes here after quitting her job in India." 

"So all of a sudden there's an extremely IT-competent woman sitting at home twiddling her thumbs," he says. "She doesn't know Swedish, she doesn't have a job, so she doesn't have a personal ID number.... without the number she can't sign up to free Swedish classes. It's a vicious cycle."

It's a familiar situation for many families that have recently moved to Sweden - one partner has to sacrifice or stall their career - and Singh aims to tackle it head on.

"So I thought, why not start an agency for 'Forgotten Professionals'," he says with a smile. "This is an equality question, and we also have a Swedish labour market screaming for competent IT consultants." 

"We often talk about wanting to have more gender equality in IT and engineering, and we also talk about merit being paramount in hiring, but that's not what we see on the ground," he says.

So why can the expat housewives not find work despite top-notch CVs? Follow the money... the problem is less about gender, more about girth.

Many Indian IT firms will offer a Swedish company scores of consultants - in essence offering a bulk discount - even in some cases inching close to a two-consultants-for-the-price-of-one as the company will also provide a backup team back in India. 

"As an individual, you can't compete with Tata or the other giant companies," Singh says.

With such cost-cutting appeal, few companies care that the workers in question don't speak fluent Swedish. Yet when it comes to hiring an individual, language often becomes an issue.  

Singh has not yet managed to send a single Forgotten Professional into battle...

"Nope," says Singh, but it is clear he won't give up. And it's also clear that's he's tired of Swedish employers saying they are meritocratic, when actually it's more important for many of them to keep the afternoon fika break friction free.

'Some clients just go 'What, do we have to speak Eeeenglish now'," Singh jokes. "It's a question of legacy, it's a question of feeling the employer shouldn't have to adapt to the employee."

There are notable exceptions, however, with Sing singing the praises of telecom giant Ericsson and start-up Truecaller, who use English as their default work language.

"Swedish is not relevant to the tasks at hand," Singh underscores. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Perspective: ‘Russian sub’ alert
Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters
The HMS Stockholm patrols Jungfrufjärden in the Stockholm archipelago on Monday morning. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters

With Sweden engaged in its biggest domestic military operation since the Cold War, The Local spoke to Johan Wiktorin, a fellow at the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences, to get insight into what’s going on in the Stockholm archipelago. READ  

Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike
Grounded Lufthansa planes. Photo: TT

Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike

A strike by pilots at German airline Lufthansa will affect over 20 flights in and out of Sweden over the next two days. READ  

National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Photo: Shutterstock

Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars

A dentist in western Sweden is offering free dental care to his town's Roma begging population. READ  

Ebola crisis
Stockholm patient does not have Ebola
Infection clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Stockholm patient does not have Ebola

UPDATED: A patient at a Stockholm hospital was told on Monday morning that he does not have Ebola, after he was forced to spend the night in isolation. READ  

Business & Money
Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts
Photo: TT

Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts

Swedish electrical appliance maker Electrolux reported its third-quarter net profit soared 42 percent to 933 million kronor ($130 million) thanks to a cost-cutting programme started at the end of last year. READ  

National
School photographer fired for homophobic slur
Photo credit: Shutterstock

School photographer fired for homophobic slur

A photographer at a high school in southern Sweden was sacked after he called one of the students a "fag" during a shoot. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
No let-up in search for foreign vessel
Minehunter HMS Koster takes part in the search in the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

No let-up in search for foreign vessel

A hunt for foreign underwater activity near Stockholm entered its fourth day on Monday as Sweden’s armed forces vowed to keep searching “day and night” for what media reports suggest may be a damaged Russian vessel. READ  

Ebola crisis
Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

A male passenger who landed at Stockholm's Arlanda airport has been transferred to an isolation unit amid fears he may be suffering from the Ebola virus. But a specialist was keen to play down concerns. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
Pictured: 'suspicious object' off Swedish coast
Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

Pictured: 'suspicious object' off Swedish coast

Sweden’s Armed Forces have said it is likely a foreign power is conducting operations in Swedish waters, and have released pictures of a suspicious object seen in the Stockholm Archipelago. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
Mystery deepens over reported Russian sub
The HMS Visby combs the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday as the military operation continues. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Mystery deepens over reported Russian sub

Mystery deepened on Sunday over a Swedish military operation triggered by "foreign underwater activity" off the coast of Stockholm, amid an unconfirmed report of a hunt for a damaged Russian submarine. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Sweden deploys troops over underwater threat
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Blog updates

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 

17 October

Editor’s Blog, Oct 17th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Here’s the whole week of news in just 60 seconds. The most-read story was about a..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Lifestyle
Sweden's The Bridge to become 'more Danish'
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
National
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
Society
Interview with Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Gallery
Stefan Löfven through the years
Gallery
People-watching: October 1st
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

984
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN