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“Re-Invent Yourself” programme – talent attraction for international spouses in Estonia

Coming to Estonia as an accompanying spouse, you might lack a support network and information on your new environment – but Estonia offers a helping hand to those talents wanting to enter the labour market.

Whereas the main aim of Work in Estonia is to introduce Estonia to foreign specialists, to help local employers find foreign professionals and to help the latter adapt to local life, now an additional “Re-invent Yourself” professional support programme for international spouses – the Spouse Programme – has been introduced, in order to help the spouses of foreign specialists to find employment on the local labour market and to create a mutual community to support one another and exchange experiences. The programme offers both group and individual counselling, including career consultations by the Public Employment Service (Töötukassa) – free of charge.

Leonardo Ortega, from Mexico, is Work in Estonia’s Partner Relations specialist and was responsible for the first Spouse Programme groups. Ortega says that although paperwork and the organisation of daily family life is much easier in Estonia in comparison with some other countries, many people still have additional questions, which means they spend too much time running from one public institution to another.

Where to find a doctor? Which kindergarten should my child go to?

‘Where to find a GP, which kindergarten to send your child to? There are many questions of this kind that locals don’t even think about. We started working with the Talent Attraction Management Model, which has been used in several countries before. This model consists of four phases – attracting foreign talents, arrival and creating a positive first impression, adaptation and reputation. Ideally people will have only good things to say about the first three phases and, once they return to their homeland, they can recommend working in Estonia to other people. For example, in the case of Brazilians we often experience how people who are already working here invite their contacts to come as well,’ says Ortega.

First and foremost, Work in Estonia focuses on attracting ICT specialists, but understandably their spouses have diverse occupational backgrounds. Often it is the case that a spouse has an equal professional level or is a highly educated specialist in another field. It is these “hidden talents” that the “Re-Invent Yourself” programme seeks to help people realise their professional potential in Estonia.

‘However, the spouses often do not have jobs when they arrive, so they spend time at home and often lack the kind of network that would help them. In such cases it may happen that the entire family decides to move somewhere else where both spouses find work. Because even if an IT specialist has a great job in Estonia, they will not be able to focus on it properly, if they have an unhappy spouse at home who cannot find an outlet in a foreign country,’ explains Ortega.

Tips and tricks on life in Estonia provided

This is where the Spouse Programme comes into play: it will help spouses and families to orientate in the local market. The programme lasts five weeks and, to date, two groups totalling 31 people have completed it. After the completion of the programme, nearly half of the participants found a job and all participants said that they recommend the programme 100%.

The Spouse Programme teaches and/or reminds participants of the main truths of applying for jobs and gives tips on what is particular in their field in Estonia, in another cultural space. It also provides information about the Estonian labour market and working culture and provides career counselling through the Public Employment Service as well as helps to set goals. They have brought in recruitment specialists and organised meetings with regularly recruiting companies such as Bolt (Taxify) and held a workshop on setting up a company.

‘Participating in the programme provided me with emotional and professional support,’ says Nadin Rusinova who completed the first pilot group training after moving here from Moscow with her husband and 5-year-old daughter. She joined her husband in Tallinn six months after he moved here and was certain she wanted to continue her career. However, the timing was not set because they first needed to find a kindergarten in Estonia for their daughter. Rusinova says she first began to research available opportunities in Estonia, took an English course and then discovered the Spouse Programme. At first, she found it encouraging to meet others “like her” who had moved to a new country and were about to start new careers. Then she found various job contacts, went to interviews and meetings. She found her job as a data analyst in the IT company Paxful through contacts she received.

‘I am very happy here because the work matches my qualification. Naturally, I have a lot to learn and do but I am pleased I joined the programme and I am very grateful to Leonardo and his team who really helped us a lot,’ says Nadin Rusinova.

This autumn, Work in Estonia plans to start with three groups – two in Tallinn and one in Tartu.

More information about specific starting times can be found on the workinestonia.com website.

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