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Denmark’s foreign workforce hits record high

Over 380,000 foreign nationals were employed in Denmark in 2018, a record number for internationals working in the country.

Denmark's foreign workforce hits record high
File photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix

A total of 384,000 foreign citizens worked in Denmark last year, broadcaster TV2 reports.

Agriculture, cleaning and the restaurant industry were three areas that saw a particularly high number of foreigners working, according to the report.

Around one in three employed in Denmark’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries is a foreign national, while one in ten of the overall workforce hails from abroad.

“In relation to other countries, the proportion of foreign nationals on the Danish labour market is not especially high. And it is likely to increase further. Because these workers are absolutely necessary if we are to maintain economic growth,” DE’s labour market chief Peter Halkær told TV2.

Researcher Jens Arnholz of the University of Copenhagen’s Employment Relations Research Centre, told the broadcaster there was “nothing to suggest we will see fewer foreigners coming here to work.”

In its report, TV2 raises concerns about social dumping, the practice of hiring workers from other economies – such as eastern European EU countries – for lower wages than would be given to local workers. The construction industry is highlighted as one in which this occurs.

But Halkjær told the media that Danish companies generally complied with rules designed to prevent the practice.

“These workers are necessary and valuable, and it is fortunately rare for companies to employ on conditions that would not be covered by a Danish union-employer agreement, if one applies. It’s also rare in general for employees not to be treated fairly,” he said.

READ ALSO: Danish transport firm admits to poor conditions for foreign drivers

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Labour shortage hits half of Danish companies in construction sector

A record-high shortage of labour at some Danish companies is exacerbated in some places by a lack of materials, according to new data.

A file photo of construction in Aalborg. As many of half of construction companies in Denmark currently report a lack of labour.
A file photo of construction in Aalborg. As many of half of construction companies in Denmark currently report a lack of labour. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The construction industry reports a lack of labour at around half of all companies, according to a survey by Statistics Denmark, based on responses from businesses.

In the service industry, which includes restaurants, hotels and cleaning, one in three companies reported a lack of workforce.

Some industries, notable machinery related businesses, also said they are short of materials currently.

The lack of labour is holding the Danish economy back, according to an analyst.

“Never before have we seen such a comprehensive lack of labour in the Danish economy,” senior economist Søren Kristensen of Sydbank said.

“It’s a shame and it’s a genuine problem for a significant number of the businesses which at the moment are losing revenue as a consequence of the lack of labour,” Kristensen continued.

“That is costly, including for all of Denmark’s economic growth. Even though we on one side can be pleased that it’s going well for the Danish economy, we can also regret that it could have been even better,” the economist said in a comment to news wire Ritzau.

Despite the lack of labour, businesses have their most positive outlook for years, according to Statistics Denmark.

The data agency based its conclusions on a large volume of responses from companies related to revenues, orders and expectations for the future.

The numbers are processed into a measure termer business confidence or erhvervstillid in Danish. The October score for the metric is 118.7, the highest since 2010, although there are differences between sectors.

READ ALSO: Are international workers the answer to Denmark’s labour shortage?

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