Scandinavian Trend: Trainees for the business and the Philippines

Right now, four young Danes are trainees in Scandinavian Trend or Filtra as the company’s name actually is. Filtra was started by Per Stangegaard – an eager golf player – as an import and export business, but it has now developed into six different companies. One is making home pages, one is agent for Danish design brands such as Normann, Eva Solo and Stelton another is a wooden goods manufacturer.
Sidse Ellegaard has been a trainee with the company since September 2006.
“I applied because I wanted practical marketing experience outside Europe”, she says. She now spends time in the office in Makati City in Manila where she is developing the different brands of Filtra and in the show room where she is planning next month’s exhibition in cooperation with the company’s Filipino employees.
 “The trainees are also here to learn working with people from another culture”, says Per. “They should be acquainted with the country that they are a part of during their time here. Some get that knowledge on a white beach, others like Sidse spend their weekends building houses for the poor”, he says.

Internship during the week, volunteer and party in the weekend
After the typhoon in December last year, Sidse joined the Hands-On projects and helped the reestablishment of many of the mud covered houses close to Puerto Galera.
 “I worked on the project four days in January”. It was mainly building schools and painting the interior, but the children were so happy and grateful for our work so I have decided to do some work for the organization in Manila also”, Sidse says about the volunteer job.
“In Makati you spend a lot of time with the wealthy of this country. I needed a reality check so I joines Hands-On”, she says.
Sidse and her co-trainee Rene Damborg Jensen also have time for partying in Manila. “It is a great city for partying”, they say. “We spend a lot of time with other trainees from all over the world”, they add.
 Sidse’s flight ticket expires in August and can no longer be extended. “But I am not finished in Manila”, she says. Therefore, Per has offered her a job as a brand manager from next fall and she is thrilled about the possibility of staying in the Philippines.
 Rene is a trainee for only six months as an industrial designer. Usually, Per prefers to have trainees for at least nine months, otherwise too much time is spent on introduction and not on actual work. But 25 year old Rene was determined to come to Manila even for a short period of time.
 “I wanted a break from school and get a different experience. That is why I chose Manila and not just Copenhagen”, he says.

Public money, but not for a lifetime
Per is happy about the opportunities he is able to provide for the trainees, but he would like to reach further.
 “I don’t understand why I cannot get craftsmen as trainees, but as the system is now, only academic students have this opportunity”, says Per Stangegaard who has tried to get carpenters among others for his business.
 He also misses the Danish Export Counsil’s trainee foundation. The foundation made it possible for many young Danes to go abroad with a sum of public money, but is was closed down some years ago due to lack of applicants.
Finances are a consideration of the trainees who live on scholarships and SU. “We are well paid for Filipino standards, but if I stay here and work I will miss out on saving for my retirement”, Rene says. “Ideally, we should be hired by a Danish company as expats here in Manila. That would be great”, Rene says.

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