Social welfare cuts for young unemployed ‘creates incentive’: Danish parties

Two of the three parties in Denmark’s coalition government want to reduce social welfare payments for young people not considered ready to enter the job market.

Social welfare cuts for young unemployed 'creates incentive': Danish parties
A municipality job centre in Copenhagen. File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix

The Liberal Alliance and Conservative parties, the two smaller parties in the three-party coalition, want people between the ages of 25 and 29 to be given less in social welfare once they are declared ‘capable of activity’ (aktivitetsparat), a term used to describe somebody not currently suitable to enter the full-time job market, according to a report by newspaper Berlingske.

People falling into this category currently receive three times more in social welfare than an equivalent person considered able to work (jobparat), according to an analysis by liberal thinktank Cebos, which looked at the difference between people in the two categories living with parents or guardians and not providing for others.

A person in the able-to-work category receives 3,500 kroner ($500) per month while somebody not considered capable of working receives 11,100 kroner ($1,590), says the report.

Once not living at home, this changes to 7,200 kroner ($1,030) for the former category, while the latter remains unchanged.

According to Cepos, 43,000 people under the age of 30 are currently covered by the unemployment benefit (kontanthjælp) system, of which 61 percent are considered not ready to work full-time.

Somebody falling into the ‘capable of activity’ rather than full-time working category is considered to have social or work-related problems that prevent them from fully entering the employment or education sector, but may be able to in the longer term. The social support individuals in this category receive from their local municipalities is aimed at facilitating this.

Liberal Alliance’s employment spokesperson Laura Lindahl told news agency Ritzau that the amount of money being paid to young people in this category should be cut.

“It would create the right incentives in our system. Incentives should be to get a job or qualification. At the moment we are rewarding people for being as far away from the job market as possible,” she said.

Lindahl’s counterpart in the Conservative Party, Rasmus Jarlov, said that he was also prepared to bring down welfare payments to young people not ready to work.

“We are risking people staying away from education and the job market because it gives them a larger income in the short term,” Jarlov told Berlingske.

For members


Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Job searching in Denmark can be a daunting and lengthy process with many hurdles to overcome. The Local spoke to Kay Xander Mellish, author of 'How to Work in Denmark', for her tips on submitting a successful CV and application.

Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

CVs in Denmark often have certain aspects of layout, presentation and content in common. By writing a CV that sticks to some of these recognisable customs, you may improve your chances of catching the eye of a potential employer.

1. Length

“Keep it to one excellent page, or two if you’re more senior. I’d say if you’re aged 30 and under, one page will be enough. Only add the jobs that are relevant. Employers don’t want to hear about that restaurant server or babysitting job if it’s not relevant to the role,” Mellish said.

2. Format

At the top of your CV, a paragraph describing your experience, skills, education and character is a common way to lead into a CV. This text can be adapted depending on the job you’re applying for and how you want to present your skills.

“Add three adjectives about yourself that you can support with an example, rather than ten adjectives with no story. For example, say you are innovative for this reason. People don’t like hot air in Denmark,” Mellish said.

Aside from the profile text, chronological lists of qualifications, relevant employment history and other relevant experience should be kept brief enough to fit the one to two pages.

3. Show your personal side and a photo

It is expected that applicants include a section about their hobbies, even family situation on their CV in Denmark, as well as a photo, to give a sense of who they are as a person.

“Danish employers are interested in you as a human, more so than employers in other countries so include information about yourself, including your age and your hobbies.

“Choose a good quality photo that is not too serious but shows you looking friendly and approachable,” Mellish said.

4. Story telling

“Think in terms of story telling”, Mellish advised. “Pure letters and numbers don’t mean a lot to employers in Denmark, they need to know what projects you’ve done, what role you played and what kind of person you are through your CV.

“So rather than writing ‘I have these grades’, it’s better to say ‘I worked on this project, it took this long, I achieved this'”, Mellish said.

5. Hit the ground running

Mellish called this “plug and play”, where you show you will slot right into the company and get going with the role.

“When employers are reading your CV, they want to know what you can do on day one of the job. Sell your ability to solve someone’s problem. You need to give the impression you can add value straight away.

“In Denmark the average length of time in a job is two and a half years, because you can take your pension when you move, so employers don’t want someone they need to spend time training,” Mellish told The Local.

READ ALSO: Five tips for writing an effective Danish CV

6. Teamwork

“Group work is very important in Denmark, more than individual achievements. So talk about your teamwork and how you worked with a group to produce a good business result. It shouldn’t be ‘me, me, me’ – that’s a turn off,” Mellish said.

7. LinkedIn

“People in Denmark love LinkedIn so you need a fabulous LinkedIn profile with a good picture. Before anyone calls you for an interview they’ll have looked at your LinkedIn profile.

“In your profile, include the storytelling, explaining the projects you’ve worked on. If your job involves a uniform, I recommend wearing it in your LinkedIn photo so people get that impression of you right away. Your background photo should also be work-related, not rainbows or puppies. Use it to tell the story of who you are,” Mellish advised.

8. Unsolicited application

This is when you approach a company or department you would like to work for, without a job being advertised. The Danish term for it is uopfordret ansøgning. 

“Many people make contact on LinkedIn and ask to meet for a coffee, where they chat and rather than pitch for a job, they ask if the person knows anyone looking for someone like them. Danish employers welcome this and many people are hired this way,” Mellish said.

Another way to network is to join a union, Mellish advised. They often have career events but can also help read your contract when you get a job offer, or help with any problems in the workplace. 

9. Ring the recruiter

The phone number of the hiring manager will often be in the job advert. Mellish advised finding a quiet place to ring them from and spending ten to fifteen minutes asking some good business questions.

“This also helps you work out if you might want to work for this person,” Mellish said.

“Send your CV within 24 hours of the phone call and mention you spoke to them in your application,” she added.

10. Patience

“On average it can take six months to find a job in Denmark. If it’s under this, you’re lucky. If it takes a year, it’s not you, it just takes a long time because employers are looking for someone to fit into their team.

“I wrote 100 letters, I got ten responses, three interviews and one job which I had for eight years,” Mellish told The Local.

“Danish employers are not always good at getting back to you. If you don’t hear anything, just keep applying for other jobs. If you sent an application on June 1st, you could send a follow-up email on June 15th, then you’ll have to leave it and move on,” she advised. 

Kay Xander Mellish’s book ‘How to Work in Denmark’ offers both job-searching advice and tips on how to succeed in the Danish workplace.