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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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.