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Providing a direct route for au pairs to the UK
Working a short stint as an au pair abroad has long been a popular way for young Swedes to experience life and culture in another country. Marie Gelibter has been recruiting au pairs for families in the UK for 15 years. Through her cooperation with EURES, she has helped provide employment and valuable experience abroad for many young Swedes.
Marie runs Swedish Connection, a company which matches families across London and the UK with au pairs, mother’s helps and nannies. In the early years of the business, she travelled to job centres all around Sweden giving talks about the life and work of an au pair. While she still gives some talks, EURES job days have now become a focus for her efforts as they bring hundreds of prospective candidates to one venue on one day.
“What’s great is that I am invited to job fairs in Sweden by EURES, and I get to meet with hundreds of young people directly,” explains Marie. “I went to four or five job fairs last year alone.”
Marie typically recruits 200 au pairs for British families every year. The process begins when candidates sign-up to declare their interest at a job fair in Sweden. Marie then returns to Britain and follows up, inviting them to complete a mandatory, lengthy application that includes a police background check, medical information and school grades.
After that, candidates are interviewed over Skype and Marie matches the most suitable with families. If the families like the au pair, they can make a job offer.
“All the candidates have good English, and we look for the ones who are outgoing, sociable, and will fit in best with their host family,” says Marie. “Most are between 19 and 21 years old, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend a year or so in another country.”
“Most of the au pairs stay for 11 to 12 months with the host families,” says Rob Floris, one of the EURES Advisers who works with Marie on the ground in Sweden. “August, September and January are the usual start times.” When they are in the UK, au pairs enjoy a close-knit community and organise meetings via their group page on Facebook.
EURES has built up a strong working relationship with Swedish Connection, and Marie can rely on a network of EURES Advisers wherever she travels in Sweden while recruiting. “You could say we have a good ‘connection’,” jokes Rob.
Meanwhile, Marie expects to be back in Sweden later this year to meet more mobile young people eager to work abroad. “They will discover a new country, make new friends and have a fantastic memory of the experience for the rest of their lives,” she concludes.
Find out more about Swedish Connection
Learn more about the codes of conduct for au pairs from the International Au Pair Association
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