Denmark is seeking migrant workers

, by Clément Di Roma

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Denmark is seeking migrant workers
Photo: Claus Tom Christensen // Flickr ([CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Danish companies are struggling with a decrease in the number of immigrant workers entering the country. They desperately need the workforce.

Danish companies are still looking for employees outside their borders. One of most influential daily newspapers in the country, Jyllands-Posten, showed that more than 14,500 workers came to Denmark each year for the last decade. “EU citizens took 87 percent of newly-created jobs in 2013 compared to 11 percent currently,” translates The Local Denmark. Since 2016, there has been a 65% decrease in arrivals.

Workers usually came from East Europe. However, the overall state of living conditions in countries like Poland keeps getting better. Consequently, industrial workers are staying at home instead of moving to Nordic countries. As the Danish workforce is rapidly aging, younger and highly-educated Danes are not replacing them. As we pointed out recently in The New Federalist, the country is recognized in and outside Europe as having a positive political stance on foreign workforce.

Skills gap

With a 6,2 percent unemployment rate, you would think that the country can employ its own citizens. But Denmark’s labor shortage is mostly found in vocational jobs. Meaning that the construction, manufacturing as well as the automobile industries are struggling to find lower skilled employees. In those industries, workers are simply not available and the overall market growth of the country is quickly impacted. The low unemployment rate is not a data indicating what kind of jobs people are searching for.

The issue is so deeply rooted in the Danish industries that earlier this year, The New York Times sent a reporter in a company manufacturing tractor parts to observe the issue. At the time, the CEO explained that the lack of labor caused his company to lose contracts, as he could not cover the demand made by potential new clients.

The government to the rescue

The government has helped by merging life expectancy with the retirement age limit to allow seniors to work a few more years. “We have to do some things both short-term and long-term to expand the workforce”, said the Economy minister Simon Emil Ammitzboll at the beginning of 2017.

Troels Lund Poulsen, the Employment minister, evokes a risk of companies leaving the country if a new wave of labor force doesn’t come soon. The never-ending growth of Denmark’s economy could be coming to an end without a quick intervention from the government.

Lowering taxes and encouraging student mobility with a solid grant system were the measures Ammitzboll was rooting for. But his aspirations and projects are not completely shared by a conflicted parliament. The Social Democrats cannot agree with the increase of the retirement age and do not want lower taxes for the highest revenues. The Danish People’s Party is also against cutting taxes for the wealthiest. However, both parties, as well as the majority of the parliament, still recognize difficulties when it comes to the foreign workforce.

EU expats can choose

Denmark’s industries are partly built on expats. And when it comes to politics, they do matter. Each EU citizen permanently living in Denmark can vote in both the regional and municipal elections. They even have the possibility to run, legally, as candidates.

But as Věra Dvořáková, an editor of The New Federalist, explained: those rights are often ignored by the expatriates. 33 percent of foreigners integrated as Danes now have a right to vote and four percent of the country’s voters are other EU citizens.

Brexit means hope

Copenhagen has been pushed and promoted by officials to replace London as a strong financial center. The project “Consider Copenhagen” is directed towards the promotion of Denmark’s capital “as an obvious candidate,” said Brian Mikkelsen, the country’s Finance minister.

Denmark and Copenhagen could use UK workers, and not only in finance jobs. The arrival of new industries and a financial expansion of the capital would mean more “vocational jobs” needed.

Your comments


Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom