Take a walk down any busy street in Luxembourg, and you will soon hear the buzz of many different languages and meet people from all over Europe and the world. Walk by a playground, and you will hear parents discussing in Spanish, French or Romanian while children who might speak Polish or Chinese at home, use Luxembourgish, or perhaps English, as their common language to communicate with their playmates.
Luxembourg’s long tradition of welcoming international workers started when the country was one of the world’s leading steel producers, and has continued as it built its international financial centre and became home to a number of European Union institutions. Today, its high-tech industries, such as the buoyant commercial space sector, attract highly skilled experts from near and far. 53% of the population are Luxembourgers, while the remaining 47% are made up of a blend of over 180 nationalities. The country has three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German – and English is widely spoken, in particular in the business community.
A base for European business
This makes Luxembourg an attractive location for companies that are targeting the European, or even the global, market. “Companies who choose Luxembourg as their base can easily create international teams that do not only speak the language of the customers, but also have an in-depth understanding of the business culture in different countries,” says Patrick Nickels, Director General of Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion at the Ministry of Economy. “This is often essential for making successful market entries.”
Your business structure will be international and your products multilingual from the very beginning.
Patrick Kersten, a Luxembourg serial entrepreneur who todays heads IT consultancy and recruitment company Vesperia, agrees. “The international workforce is definitely a reason for companies to settle in Luxembourg. At one point, one of my previous start-ups Doctena had a team of 20 including 14 different nationalities. That is an incredible experience for everyone: it gives you a unique company culture and keeps you motivated to listen to others. Your business structure will be international and your products multilingual from the very beginning – a key advantage, as otherwise you have to restart and modify every time you want to reach a new market. Your main strength will be the diversity of your team members and their experience.”
Easy to attract talent
Companies looking for highly skilled staff are not limited to the national market. “A large proportion of Luxembourg’s workforce is made up of cross-border workers from the surrounding regions in France, Germany and Belgium that together make up a population in excess of 11 million,” Mr Nickels points out. “Employers here also frequently recruit staff from the rest of Europe to meet their needs. When needed, qualified workers from outside the EU can also be recruited with a minimum of red tape.”
Bringing people to Luxembourg, even from outside the EU, is not difficult.
Luxembourg start-up Nexten has developed a successful matchmaking platform to help companies recruit software engineers and other tech experts. “The need for software engineers in Europe is huge, not least as a result of the digital transformation of industry,” says CEO and founder Eric Busch. “There is a dynamic ecosystem here, but we also help our clients attract talent from abroad. Bringing people to Luxembourg, even from outside the EU, is not difficult. The work permit rules are really well done and the procedures are fast – the average time to obtain a work permit is 6-8 weeks.”
Luxembourg’s assets for international recruits include its dynamic start-up community, high quality of life and interesting job market for those who want to stay long-term and move on with their career. “An experienced software engineer who creates a profile on our platform will have 5-6 interview requests in just a few days,” assures Mr Busch. “Employers have the same advantage: we are often able to help them hire a specialist in just two weeks.”