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WORKING IN DENMARK

Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Local authorities and a major business interest organisation have urged Denmark’s government to address a labour shortage.

Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage
A representative for Danish municipalities said services may have to be cut if a labour shortage is not addressed. Photo by everdrop GmbH on Unsplash

Unmet demand for labour in both private businesses and the public sector has reached a crisis point, according to an appeal to the government to reach a broader labour agreement. 

Parliament must renew its efforts to find a new national compromise which will secure more labour, the National Association of Municipalities (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said according to financial media Finans.

“The parties [in parliament] must be honest with voters and start a completely different and strict prioritisation of what the public sector can offer people,” mayor and KL chairperson Martin Damm told news wire Ritzau.

“Otherwise, the parties must find the labour needed for private companies to provide growth and wellbeing, and for us at municipalities to have the staff and economy to deliver the services people expect,” he said.

The municipalities will need 44,000 additional employees by 2030 due to increasing numbers of children and elderly in the population, according to KL.

Short the lack of labour persist, municipal governments could be forced to reduce the priority of services such as cleaning for elderly residents, according to Damm.

Danish businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit staff and could hire 38,000 new workers immediately if they were available, according to DI, which represents the interests of about 19,000 Danish companies. 

Lars Sandahl Sørensen, managing director of DI, firmly believes the answer to the labour shortage lies outside Danish borders. 

“We will need many more foreigners,” Sørensen told Finans.

“It is not about getting cheap labour, but about getting people at all. We are in a situation where we do not have employees to carry out the things on green conversion that we have already decided to do, and that we would like to do on health and welfare,” he said.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard told Finans that the government agreed a deal on international recruitment shortly before the summer break.

READ MORE: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you aren’t an EU national? 

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WORKING IN DENMARK

Age charity wants Danish schools opened abroad to solve worker shortage

Age concern charity DanAge (Ældre Sagen) says Danish social care education programmes should be opened in foreign countries to address the chronic labour shortage suffered by the sector.

Age charity wants Danish schools opened abroad to solve worker shortage

Danish welfare courses that take place abroad are a potential solution to a serious lack of staff in elderly care, the CEO of DanAge, Bjarne Hastrup, told newspaper Berlingske.

Germany, Spain, India and the Phillippines are potential locations for the schools, according to the charity.

“And my question to politicians would be: ‘If you’re not going to do this, what are you going to do?’,” Hastrup told Berlingske.

In addition to giving students social care qualifications, the schools would also teach them the Danish language and culture, Hastrup suggests.

Nurses from India and the Phillippines should also be allowed to travel to Denmark and work in elderly care while waiting for the nursing qualifications to be authorised by Danish authorities, DanAge proposes.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark take so long to authorise foreign medical professionals?

If the foreign nurses are denied authorisation, they should then be offered an alternative nursing qualification, which they would be able to study for in Denmark while continuing to work in elderly care, the charity said.

The proposal comes as DanAge on Thursday hosted a debate with Danish political party leaders at which it hoped to push for more political action on the sector’s labour shortage.

DanAge also wants au pairs – who can be granted temporary work and residence permits in Denmark under special au pair rules – to be offered a new work permit on expiry of their au pair contracts so that they can opt to stay in Denmark and work in the elderly sector.

Hastrup told Berlingske that the idea of training future staff in schools based abroad could be transferred to other areas of the health service which are also experiencing labour shortages.

It is unclear at the current time whether the charity’s proposals will garner political backing or momentum.

Danish work permit rules for non-EU nationals are restrictive, with one of the most popular pathways, the Pay Limit Scheme, requiring employers to pay a minimum wage high enough to prevent hires in many social care roles.

READ ALSO: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

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