Denmark announces extension of refugee apprenticeship programme

Denmark announces extension of refugee apprenticeship programme
Unrelated file photo. Christian Als/Ritzau Scanpix
The government and private sector representatives have agreed the extension of a scheme in which refugees are provided short-term jobs and training at apprentice salary levels.

The IGU (integrationsgrunduddannelse) scheme, which was introduced in 2016, aims to help refugees to access the Danish labour market.

People on the scheme are paid a salary of 50 to 120 kroner (€6.70 to €16) an hour for up to two years. The refugees also take part in skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks.

Refugees and people with residency via family reunification, who are between the ages of 18 and 40 and have lived in Denmark for less than five years are eligible.

The scheme has previously been criticised by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party and also arguably conflicts with the so-called ‘paradigm shift’ bill, voted through by parliament last week, which reflects a government change in policy on asylum.

A key aspect of the recent bill is its shift in focus from integration to future repatriation in Denmark’s approach to those who are granted refuge in the country.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s parliament passes 'paradigm change' asylum bill

Nevertheless, the IGU scheme, which has seen 1,860 agreements reached between employers and refugees since its inception, has now been extended until June 2022, the Ministry for Immigration and Integration announced via a press release on Monday.

The agreement was reached between the government and trade organisations including union representative Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation (FH), the Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA) and Local Government Denmark (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL).

Minister for Immigration and Integration Inger Støjberg has previously spoken in support of the IGU programme.

“Even though many more newly-arrived refugees have entered employment since the tripartite agreement in 2016, many refugees remain outside of the jobs market. I am therefore pleased that we have, today, reached a very good agreement with labour market representatives to extend the IGU, which is a stepping stone to the jobs market for many,” Støjberg said in the press statement.

“The scheme is a very good resource, which helps to make more refugees self-sufficient so that they can contribute to society on equal terms with everyone else for as long as they are here,” the minister added.

Labour market organisations also praised the scheme in comments included in the ministry press release.

“The IGU is, for many refugees and families, the first step towards being on the labour market under normal conditions – exactly as we hoped. Furthermore, I am pleased to see extra resources provided for better Danish language lessons and for the extension of the IGU period in instances of parental leave or illness,” FH chairperson Lizette Risgaard said.

The scheme is aimed at refugees and others granted residency under Danish family reunification rules who are not yet considered to be ready for employment under normal wage and employment regulations, the ministry writes in the press statement.

It had been due to expire this year after being approved for a three-year trial period in 2016.

READ ALSO: Refugee apprentice scheme a success, Danish immigration minister says

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