Denmark’s budget could allow for more skilled foreign workers

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party says it wants Denmark to be able to import more skilled labour from abroad.

Denmark's budget could allow for more skilled foreign workers
Social Liberal leader Morten Østergaard with PM Mette Frederiksen in parliament. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The party will demand that the government consider the issue, and has mentioned it in its proposal for the upcoming budget.

The Social Liberals are one of three other left-wing parties whose support is needed to prop up the minority Social Democrat government, and will be part of negotiations over the proposed budget presented by the government last week.

READ ALSO: What Denmark's new budget proposal means for foreign residents

Leader Morten Østergaard made the call for more skilled labour in an interview with newspaper Børsen.

“The government was formed on the provision that more foreign labour would be allowed, and that has to become reality,” Østergaard said with reference to the so-called ‘letter of understanding’ (forståelsespapir) agreed by left-wing parties following June’s election.

That agreement set out the basis on which the smaller parties would support the Social Democrats as the governing party, and included a promise to smooth the path for skilled foreign workers.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Denmark's new government agreement

“(Foreign labour) has the advantage of contributing to economic growth, giving us better ability to switch to green solutions, invest in children and education and the other things we want to do. So I don’t actually understand why the government isn’t being more proactive on this,” Østergaard said.

The Social Democrats’ long-held position over skilled foreign labour is that Denmark can make up for any shortfall in its own workforce by hiring from the EU, and has therefore no need to make rules for third-country citizens more favourable than they currently are.

Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye, in a written comment to Børsen, said that he “completely agrees” that Danish companies which “live up to their obligations” should be able to attract foreign labour quickly and without large amounts of bureaucratic red tape.

He is therefore prepared to look at rules for businesses relating to the issue during budget negotiations, according to the report.

But another of the government’s support parties, Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), is opposed to changes in the area.

“We don’t have a problem getting foreign labour to Denmark. And if we make the rules more accommodating, I’m afraid it could become easy to exploit people from poor situations,” Red-Green Alliance political spokesperson Pernille Skipper told Børsen.

Negotiations over the budget are scheduled to begin on Monday.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Danish odds are stacked against skilled foreign workers

Member comments

  1. How are you gonna do that? Without incentivizing foreigners by lowering their taxes for their first 5 years, for example, why would they come here? Denmark is nice yes, but far from the best in the economics perspective. Why would a skilled worker choose Denmark over something like…Swizerland?

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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?