Last week, we shared an advocacy essay by AmCham.lu Chairman /CEO Paul Schonenberg. AmCham Member Del Lloyd has been sharing the subject on her LinkedIn page and has canvassed the greater community for their thoughts. In particular, item 6 from last week’s post has triggered extensive feedback.
“Despite being married to an EU national, speaking French fluently, having had professional experience in major global organizations, it is now going on 18 months that i’ve been conducting my job search. in some cases, roles that i am perfectly matched to on paper i’ve been rejected for in less than 24 hours after submitting an application. in other experiences, i’ve attended interviews where the interviewer is actively trying to talk me out of the position for which i am applying. in another experience where an offer was actually extended, there was no room for negotiating the contract and i was told that if i could not accept the role within 24 hours it would be rescinded – due to a timing issue with regards to childcare for my children it was not considered to negotiate the start date which was less than 2 weeks from the contract receipt, ultimately meaning the offer was rescinded. unfortunately, the examples of road blocks are not limited to only these. luxembourg has a prime opportunity to leverage the amazing pool of diversity when it comes to trailing spouses, in terms of professional and personal experience, age, background, etc. the possibilities are endless. sadly it appears that the criteria for even being asked for even just an interview are mysterious and limiting, ultimately making the statement of a hiring shortage in luxembourg seeming to be self-made” –S.S., Female
The discussions haven’t even progressed to the right to work; the struggle is in actually getting people to even consider the profile if it’s not an absolute 100% fit in fin services firms – most of the times that means having done AML and / or Compliance AND having knowledge of local regulations. The ability of companies / HR to think that people from the industry having done something else (front office or middle office) have the understanding along with transferable skills and would be able to pick up local industry knowledge is surprisingly missing. The mindset is quite opaque. Frankly, the talk of Lux having an international, diverse workforce seems to be only a soundbite good for public forums; in practice, no one wants to rock the boat by hiring anyone different.” – T.M., Male, Ivy League MBA, 14 years’ banking experience.
“I’m a PMP accredited project manager holding a master degree in Information Systems with over 10 years of experience in managing IT projects/products across various industries, including banking, financial services and commerce. I’ve been actively looking for jobs in Luxembourg for 10 months, sending out more than 50 applications but it ends up with only two interviews and no offer.” – G.F., Female
“I note that I hold dual Luxembourg and US citizenship and am an accompanying spouse in Luxembourg. I moved to Luxembourg in 2018. I hold advanced degrees and am an experienced and award-winning pediatric clinician, consultant, published researcher, and academician having taught undergraduate university courses. I have clinically practiced in children’s hospitals around the world yet cannot do so here in my now permanent home in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg despite our shortage of healthcare clinicians. My credentials are indeed recognized in Luxembourg, however despite my education and experience, I am prohibited from contributing to our healthcare sector. Reason being Luxembourgish and English language skills are not enough to be hired in the Kannerklinik. Unfortunately, to its own detriment, our healthcare sector prioritizes French, excluding non-French speaking citizens or residents from participation not only as healthcare professionals, but also patients. Ideally, we would move to a healthcare system which is more inclusive of non-French speaking healthcare clinicians and patients. Luxembourg is unique in not allowing English speakers to practice in its healthcare sector. In fact, I previously practiced with my English and Luxembourgish in a children’s hospital in Germany without issue. When I practiced in the public healthcare system in Qatar, we primarily used English and had no problems with recruiting staff considering English is a global lingua franca and we thus were able to recruit highly qualified staff from all over the world. In the rare event that a patient did not speak English, we were solution-oriented and did our best to assign clinicians to patients according to their language abilities. Here in Luxembourg, we limit our talent search to French speakers, which is not reflective of our diverse population. I have even offered my clinical services free of charge, as a volunteer, and have been turned away due to not speaking French. Any attempts at collaboration are turned away as well. Uni Lux students who wish to do healthcare research do so abroad if they do not speak French, leading to a brain drain. The healthcare sector itself is catered to French speakers, which is particularly odd given that our national language is Luxembourgish, and this is the language required for obtaining citizenship. Currently, a clinician can speak French and not Luxembourgish and be employed to work in the Kannerklinik and care for children who speak Luxembourgish and not French. Yet, somebody like me cannot be employed in the Kannerklink with English and Luxembourgish. The signage, documents, etc. are typically only in French, leading to non-French speakers often having difficulty when visiting a hospital in the country. I propose a solution to adapt English as an administrative language (in the whole country), but particularly in the healthcare sector, and promote the use of English and our national language Luxembourgish. There is a reason why the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) for example is written in English. There is a reason why our national slogan “Let’s Make it Happen” is in English. It goes without saying that it is international. We in Luxembourg are international. We can embrace this by using English, while also staying true to the mother tongue of our nation by encouraging the use of Luxembourgish. Most other countries in the world do the same, by using their national language as well as English.” – J.P., Male
AT moved to Luxembourg about 5 years ago with her EU spouse. Prior to moving to Luxembourg, AT worked as a nurse in a level one Adult and Pediatric trauma center/ Emergency room at an 800-bed teaching hospital. Her CV also includes pediatric critical care and an educator in ventilator management at world-renowned Hospitals. In order to work as a nurse, she would need B2 French. Unfortunately, the INL classes fill up quickly, so the only option was expensive private language schools. Being a stay-at-home parent, her child does not qualify for Maison Relais. After spending more than 10,000 euro on classes, tutors, and childcare, but not being able to pass B1, AT gave up. ADEM was no help. They offered to subsidize Luxembourgish classes, but not the French classes needed to work in Luxembourg hospitals. ADEM offered her a training program including French language courses however it was to become a professional cleaner.
“I went from taking care of some of the sickest children in the world, to being offered training courses on how to mop floors. It was humiliating.” She also notes that: “my friend who is a nurse moved to Germany with their foreign nurse program. Language classes until you hit B1. Then you do language class as well as work as a nursing tech in German hospitals till you can get your B2”.
“Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Recruiting- I have a few versions of the resume I’ve been using for the different ‘flavors’ of roles. My job used to be to help people get hired, so I am surprised and disappointed it’s been this hard and confusing for me.” – Female, initials K.C.
“You are addressing a very interesting topic on Luxembourg employers not understanding that there are so many talented people around. One reason from my own experience is that whoever comes here is not so multilingual as these employers would like them to be. Plus, if in comms/marketing, they usually want them to be a native speaker, either a native English speaker or a native French speaker. Such a bummer! Of course, I speak both languages very well, but I am not native, nor can I pretend to be, and that has certainly been a problem for me. Such an annoying situation really, especially if you consider that AI has been solving such native or non-native problems in content writing lately. Luxembourg is just a very traditional place and employers don’t particularly like to take chances on people, it seems. They also love seeing a linear career on a CV and don’t appreciate transferrable skillset, changes between jobs, industries etc.” – S.P., Female
“I was in parental leave, 2020. The bank that I was working for, 1 month before my return included me in their second social plan (i was an associate director, leading 2 teams and it was not a matter of performances…) and still today I do not have a job. I sent thousands of applications. Meanwhile I completed an MBA and if I’m able to get an interview also for lower position the answer is : you have a strong CV and overqualified. I do not get anything from the Adem, actually they invited me to close my file… which I didn’t because I’m still hoping to get a job soon. The big 4 prefer young and student people. A lot of companies advocate the diversity and looking for talent people… Where? When? In the end I have the impression that if I will get one it’s because of my networking. I’m almost 44 and lately reading stories about women struggling to get a job. I must admit that in one side, it’s reassuring somehow as I’m not alone and in the other side, it’s scary how the REAL Lux situation is… Moreover, the actual financial situation is not helping with my personal life and a mortgage to pay, creating pressure and tension not only on myself but with my husband. It’s a virtual circle…” – B.F., Female
“I’d 100% agree on Lux being unaware of what it already has. I was told when I was hired for my current part time job that I am vastly over qualified. I have created a business separately and am now thinking Lux really is not ready for it. I am currently job hunting in HR and it’s just not going anywhere. It deeply frustrates me. I am currently looking for what i previously did – i.e. not a massive promotion – of HR administration. In a company that will appreciate my skills and will help me build myself and my career. “ – A.H., Female