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Industry leaders' plea: Treat foreigners better

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Industry leaders' plea: Treat foreigners better
Interest group DI's annual meeting focused on Denmark's need for foreign workers. Seen here is DI's CEO, Karsten Dybvad. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix
14:51 CEST+02:00
Denmark's most influential interest group is appealing for a change in rhetoric and better conditions for foreign workers in order for Denmark to secure the workforce in needs for the future.
Saying that “highly qualified foreigners are worth their weight in gold”, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) is asking Danish leaders to make life easier for foreign workers.
 
At its annual meeting on Tuesday, DI – the nation's most powerful business interest group – focused on Denmark’s need for qualified foreign workers and implored politicians to change the negative rhetoric surrounding foreigners.
 
“Fears of welfare tourism and social dumping unfortunately overshadow all too often the fact that foreign workers are first and foremost a gain for Denmark. Those foreigners who come here to work don’t bring Denmark down. They lift Denmark up,” DI’s CEO Karsten Dybvad said at Tuesday’s meeting according to DR. 
 
Dybvad said that the fears that workers from eastern Europe are taking jobs from Danes by undercutting Danish salary demands are unfounded. 
 
“What we see today is that foreigners from other EU countries are coming to Denmark to work. Not as welfare tourists,” he said. 
 
 
 
Less bureaucracy, more international schools
In advance of DI’s annual meeting, the confederation released recommendations for making it easier for workers to come to Denmark and settle down in the country. 
 
First and foremost, DI is calling for an easing of administrative requirements for bringing qualified workers into the country. DI surveyed its members and found that 38 percent reported that administrative burdens are hurting their ability to recruit and attract foreign labour. 
 
DI suggests moving the handling of resident and work permits to a national authority that would answer to the Ministry of Employment and the establishment of service units at the municipal level to help foreign employees with issues like taxes, housing and schools. 
 
DI also said that having more affordable international school options would make it easier to recruit the foreign workforce that Denmark needs. 
 
"Families with children will naturally make career choices that do not present obstacles to their children's development. So in order for Denmark to be an attractive country to foreign employees with children there must be schools and childcare services that are attractive to foreigners," Dybvad said in a statement. 
 
According to DI, foreign labour represented a 85 billion kroner net gain for Denmark in 2013. If Denmark is to continue to move forward in the future, foreign workers are a must, Dybvad said on Tuesday. 
 
“If the recovery that we see out there finally takes hold, companies will once again face a work force shortage. That will result in orders, growth and prosperity slipping through our fingers – that we will miss out on the success that we have been waiting for for years,” he said. 
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