Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taking care of our future...

Today marks the end of another school year and for me, it marks the end of my 18th year as a public educator (whoa, that makes me sound old...)!
Anyway, the thing that I LIKE related to the fact that I moved to Denmark with 15 years of experience is that I actually received credit for my experience and my education. Had I come from the other direction (DK to Texas), I would have come in as a first year teacher (related to pay and benefits, etc) and would have received only what that "step" designated me to receive. However in Denmark, not only did I receive "credit" for my years of experience, but I was also given credit (monetary) for the various skills (referred to as competencies in Denmark) that I brought to our campus that were considered above and beyond the norm. What an amazing concept.... 
As someone who has always worked for a public entity (and never in private business), I was used to everyone being treated the same way, regardless of the extra expertise or knowledge that you possessed... however, in Denmark, even in the public sector, these skills are RECOGNIZED, APPRECIATED and REWARDED.... it is amazing.

There is something about the salary system in Denmark that frustrates me... in fact, I honestly do not understand it AT ALL.

As in the US, a part of our income taxes contribute to the welfare system to pay for those that are either already on pension or who are getting ready to retire. (like Social Security in the US).
The majority of people receive more than just the government's benefits when they retire because they have paid into a private retirement fund through their employer. And actually (like in the US), you need a private retirement fund above and beyond the government funds to actually have a chance of maintaining your standard of living after retirement. I pay into my gymnasie-lærere retirement fund here in Denmark (along with a very good contribution from the school) and so I have a security when I am ready to retire from teaching in Denmark. And this has NOTHING to do with whether I am a foreigner or a Dane.

HOWEVER....  if you are a foreigner, living and working in Denmark, you are not entitled to receive the full benefit of the funds you have paid into the state until after you have LIVED HERE FORTY YEARS. (yes, that says FORTY) It is actually a very, um, convenient mathematical formula to determine how you receive your funds... If you have lived here 1 year and paid your taxes, you get 1/40 of the benefits available.. after 2 years, you get 2/40, after 3 years, 3/40, etc... you get the picture. 

So that means that if you are a foreigner, working for a company in DK that does not offer a very good private pension system, you are NEVER financially able to really retire because you cannot live on such small percentages.. 
I am 100% in support of folks paying into a system before they are able to reap its benefits, but I cannot fathom where they decided that FORTY was the magic number of years that a person should have to live here before being eligible for full benefits..... 

I am sure there is WAY more to this than I have knowledge of, but what I do know is a definite DISLIKE.


Anonymous said...

And that is number 8 of the 2,000 reasons we left DK.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of doctors and engineers who had to drive taxi, buses, become cleaners because their education weren't recognized by DK?

Lucky for you that yours was

Anonymous said...

and oh yeah, I don't speak without proof

Anonymous said...

oh goodness!!! that is TERRIBLE!

i guess the way i see it is if a country allows someone to immigrate/relocate there, they should allow the same benefits and privledges. i can understand MAYBE having some restrictions against refugees allowed in the country, but someone who is there through marriage should not be treated different just because they were born on US soil. i know this could potentially change people that "marry just to get citizenship or a visa in a country", but no matter which way you look at it, it is not fair.

PS: thanks for all of your sweet comments the last two days!!! i really appreciate it and really wasn't blogging besides those scheduled posts for the most part or i would have told you that sooner! such great support makes me smile and makes me THAT much more excited about the move :-) hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!!!

Caution/Lisa said...

So do they refund the portion not coming back to you somehow? What a frustrating system!

Nuno said...

I concur with the above, and Denmark must have some of the most overqualified cleaners and canteen assistants in the world. But I guess the Language Schools convinced them that cleaning or anything menial was all they could hope for!

You're lucky they recognised your qualifications, Kelli, because more often than not, they don't, particularly with people that are not from the EU or English speaking world.

Mark said...

@ OnlyInDenmark
Foreign doctors (and dentists by the way) needs to have their education approved by the danish health ministry.. To become a doctor in Denmark you have to take 8 years of education (and that's "just" the basic education, if you're going for more than that it can be up to 8 years more!), and of course foreign doctors should be of high standards just as their danish collegues..

And by the way, about a third of the doctors in danish hospitals are foreigners..

Engineers are in no way controlled by the government.. Companies hire them based on their qualifications.. I'm not saying that I know anything about the qualifications of those mentioned in the article, and yes, some can be victim to racial issues, but maybe some of them is just not as well qualified..

It's always easy to find negatives, but try to do a little more research.. Furthermore, the source of the article (Ekstra Bladet) is a newspaper based on big headlines meant to chock and/or outrage, but often the journalism is less thorough..

MoMo 2.0 said...

Only in Denmark-
You need to consider the fact that many of those professions that you speak of require that the person speak Danish fluently. You cannot take a chance having a Dr speaking intro level Danish to a patient or a nurse and making a mistake. That has actually happened with some of the foreign doctors here and other places.

My job did not require a mastery of Danish at the time I was hired because I was teaching A-level English IN English. So we have to be careful that we do not generalize ...there are plenty of foreign doctors who are working AS doctors in Denmark.. .and doing so with Danish as their "work" language.

Mark said...

Oh and regarding the 40 years..
The reason is, that a dane works for app 40 years, in which period some of the taxes goes to the pension..

I'm not saying it's a good way of doing it, but that's were the divide-by-40 rule comes from..

Nuno said...


The article quotes "Danmark's Statistics". Plus, Ekstra Bladet is hardly renowned for its sympathetic treatment of foreigners in Denmark. A left winger like me could even accuse it of being rather populist and right-wing. I would say any article in a publication like it that is sympathetic to foreigners, is indicative of there being some truth in it.

On the other hand, if the article had been about how Danish doctors are better than anyone else in the world, and how their 8-year education was the best ever, then I would agree with you.