• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
PM: Refugees in Denmark should work 'from day one'
The PM and others say that refugees from work even before they've learned Danish. Photo: Sophia Juliane Lydolph/Scanpix

PM: Refugees in Denmark should work 'from day one'

The Local · 10 Feb 2016, 14:35

Published: 10 Feb 2016 14:35 GMT+01:00

Getting refugees into the Danish labour force will be at the heart of three-party talks between the government, the labour unions and the employers’ association that get underway on Thursday.

PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that he wants to improve refugees' integration by getting them quickly into work. 

"Since Europe’s borders were breached, we have found ourselves in an extraordinary situation,” Rasmussen said in parliament on Tuesday, as quoted by Information. “If we don’t solve it, it will worsen our chances of overcoming many other challenges."

Rasmussen pointed to a potential savings of 200 kroner per citizen every time a refugee finds work and leaves social welfare support.

If refugee employment rates are not brought to the level of other non-Western immigrants, the Danish economy stands to lose 2.5 billion kroner ($300 million) in "just a few years", the PM claimed.

Some 25,000 refugees are expected to arrive in Denmark in 2016 with 17,000 of these eventually being transferred to municipality integration programmes, according to a press release by the Ministry of Employment.

In January, parliament passed tighter asylum regulations including allowing authorities to seize valuable items from refugees and increasing waiting times for family reunification to three years, provoking international criticism.

With the restrictions now in place, the government has tried to pivot toward getting those refugees who are already in Denmark to enter the labour market.

"Expected to work from day one"
“From now on, new arrivals will be expected to work from day one. This will be based on focusing on an effort to find work for everyone from the very start,” a government commission for the tripartite meetings is quoted as saying in a communication obtained by Politiken.

One measure the government aims to make use of is finding a model by which refugees can gradually be brought into employment even though they may not initially be able to work on the same basis as others. This includes making use of the so-called lower ‘apprentice wage’ (elevløn) and enabling refugees to work before they have passed Danish language exams.

“Training should be combined with existing opportunities for Danish lessons and other basic qualifications, supported by a better understanding for the job market,” says the commission statement, according to Politiken.

Last week, the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Ehrverv) said that it was open to the challenge of employing refugees who could not yet speak Danish, after Løkke stated that this was a potential area in which waiting times for placing refugees in work could be shortened.

“Only four out of ten [refugees] in Denmark are in work after ten years,” Stine Pilegaard, vice-director of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, told broadcaster DR. “So we think it is right to get them into work sooner, so they don’t lose motivation.

See also: Denmark's refugee integration has failed

Story continues below…

“Our experience shows that refugees learn Danish twice as quickly if they are working, compared to in a normal programme of language lessons," Pilegaard added.

'Introduction income' faces resistance
But it may be more difficult to convince unions to agree to lower-than-normal wages for refugees, even if this is a measure that might encourage businesses to employ them. Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen met with opposition from employee and employee associations alike when mooting a similar idea, a so-called ‘introduction income’ (indslusningsløn) in January.

Opposition leader Mette Frederiksen of the Social Democrats criticised Rasmussen’s aims for the tripartite meetings as "unambitious". Frederiksen told DR that integration should not be the sole priority of the upcoming talks, but that the government commission should be focusing on other aspects of the job market, such as finding internship places for the young and improving working environments to avoid the risk of employees becoming ‘worn out.’

The government hopes to reach an agreement by Easter, enabling employers and unions to implement their parts of the deal by autumn 2017.

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Denmark falls in international student satisfaction rank
DTU was once again named the best university in Denmark. Photo: NewsOresund/Flickr

Nordic nations once again dominated the annual International Student Satisfaction Awards.

New Copenhagen project will 'try to change the world'
Martin Kæstel and Anja Müller are the driving forces behind think.dk. Photo: Melanie Haynes

A new project based in the Copenhagen district of Østerbro was launched this week to give sustainability proponents power in numbers.

Denmark reverses course on refugee ‘child brides’
An unspecified number of married couples have been reunited in Danish asylum centres. File photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix

Married couples will be allowed to live together in Danish asylum centres even if one party is underage.

Copenhagen tour boat fined over girl’s amputated arm
The tour operator said it had followed all of the rules and the accident is the only one of its kind in 25 years. Photo: Colourbox

Tour boat operator Netto-Bådene was ordered on Tuesday to pay 50,000 kroner for an accident in which a 10-year-old girl had her arm smashed.

Photo gallery
IN PICS: Celebrating Copenhagen beer... in Boston
Danish beer culture took over Boston's City Hall Plaza for the weekend. Photo: Samer Khudairi

A Danish beer party in Beantown? Yep, and The Local had a photographer there to document the happenings.

Danes acquitted of aiding 2015 Copenhagen attacker
The trial of the four men was held under heavy security in Copenhagen. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

UPDATED: Four men accused of helping a Copenhagen gunman who killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard were acquitted on terror charges.

Danish kids among the fittest in the world: study
The study compared kids' 20m shuttle run times. Photo: Mikkel Zibrandtsen/Flickr

Danish kids have some of the highest level of aerobic fitness in the world, according to a recently-released international study.

Copenhagen police arrest teen as car fires continue
Firefighters extinguish a car fire in Valby over the weekend. Photo: Mathias Øgendal/Scanpix

UPDATED: A 17-year-old has been charged in connection with one of the 11 new fires over the weekend.

Danish nationalists hand out cans of 'refugee spray'
The party said it distributed more than 100 cans of its 'refugee spray'. Photo: Daniel Carlsen/ Danskernes Parti

The nationalist Danes’ Party elicited strong reactions went it took to the streets of Haderslev to hand out cans of what it called ‘refugee spray’.

Video
Metallica to open new Copenhagen arena
Metallica's James Hetfield at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in New York City's Central Park on Saturday. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Scanpix

Copenhagen’s coming multi-purpose arena will be opened in grand style with two nights of shows with the legendary band.

Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
International
Danish F-16s part of attack that allegedly hit Syrian forces
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Copenhagen declared world's most livable city - again!
Record number of Danes leave the church
Society
Record number of Danes leave the church
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
National
3,000-year-old stinky cheese found in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Society
Why Denmark could be the next 'right to die' battleground
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
National
Christiania residents shut down Pusher Street
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Analysis & Opinion
Denmark is locking every door to immigrants
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
National
Denmark wants it to be even harder to get residency
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
National
Denmark's asylum numbers hit new low
Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Society
Expats: Denmark 'worst place in the world' for making friends
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Business & Money
Top Danish tax official fired after scandals cost billions
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
2,226
jobs available