Denmark releases new ‘positive list’ of in-demand professions

The most recent "Positive List" of in-demand professions has been released by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

Denmark releases new 'positive list' of in-demand professions
Fourteen fields of study, including primary education, have seen interest decline among students seeking higher education in Denmark. Photo: Linda Kastrup / Ritzau Scanpix

On July 1st, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) released new “Positive List” for highly educated and skilled workers.

The Positive List is a list of professions experiencing a workforce shortage within Denmark. Non-EU/EEA citizens are eligible for work and residence permits if they have a job offer with a Danish employer that matches the titles included on the Positive List.

The new list, valid through December 31st, contains 41 job titles for people with higher education and 47 job titles for skilled workers.

Here are the job titles included on the list for highly educated workers:

  • Management: head of department, sales manager, general manager
  • Science and engineering: biologist, mechanical engineer, construction manager, civil engineer, environmental engineer, chemical engineer, designer, town planer, land inspector
  • Healthcare: doctor, medical consultant, hospital doctor, chief physician, anesthesia nurse, nurse, dentist, clinical dietitian, occupational therapist, radiographer, medical lab technician, dental hygienist
  • Education: adult education center teacher, primary school teacher, teacher at independent boarding schools for lower secondary school students, child care worker, social education worker, assistant pre-school teacher
  • Economics: auditor, accounting controller
  • IT: IT architect, IT engineer, IT project leader, programmer and system developer
  • Law, social science, culture: legal officer, librarian, psychologist, organist/cantor

Here are the job titles included on the list for skilled workers:

  • Science and engineering: building technician, plumbing technician, plumber, operations and production manager, mate
  • Healthcare: environmental technician
  • Business & administration: account manager, sales consultant, job and company consultant, local authority case manager, real estate agent, study administrative secretary, medical secretary, managing clerk, office assistant, office clerk, school secretary, trade assistant
  • Law, social science, culture: parish clerk, floral decorator, head chef
  • Economics: accountant assistant, bookkeeper, bookkeeping and accounting clerk
  • Personal services and care: hairdresser, social and health care assistant
  • Agriculture: landscape gardener, greenkeeper
  • Construction: bricklayer, joiner, carpenter, travelling fitter, plumber fitter
  • Machinery: bodywork metal worker, blacksmith, sheet metal worker, service technician for iron and metal, industrial technician, CNC operator, mechanic
  • Electrical: electrician, electrical contractor, mechanician
  • Food service: butcher, baker, master baker, chef

Further shortages expected

Following the July 5th application deadline for higher education, Denmark’s Ministry of Education has reported another banner – the third highest on record. 

But despite another strong year for applications, interest in some of Denmark’s most in-demand professions has declined. 

This includes several fields of study included on the most recent Positive List.

According to the Ministry of Education, applications for pedagogical and primary school educator programs were down 5 and 3 percent, respectively, in 2021. 

Already, Denmark anticipates a shortage of 14,000 educators in the next 10 years.

“We are in a crisis with a shortage of educators across the country,” said Elisa Rimpler, chairman of the educator’s union Bupl, adding that the shortage was expected to increase due to population growth and as a result of new laws related to minimum education standards.

Another profession already experiencing a shortage of workers within Denmark is nursing, which saw an 8 percent drop in higher education applications in 2021. Some have said the decline might be related to Denmark’s ongoing nurses’ strike, which has highlighted problems with nurses’ compensation and working conditions. 

IT, a field in which Denmark anticipates a shortage of 22,000 IT graduates by 2030, also saw a drop of 6 percent. IT architect, IT engineer, IT project manager, programmer and system developer are all professions included on the most recent Positive List. 

Applications to computer science programs, in particular, dropped by 11 percent – one of the biggest declines among all fields of study.

Engineering, another profession often listed on SIRI’s Positive List, also saw declines. Applications for civil engineering programs were down 8 percent; graduate engineering, down 4 percent; and engineering in general, down 4 percent.

Several fields of study related to other professions on the Positive List saw interest increase. Applications in building construction increased by 12 percent; psychology, 8 percent; law, 4 percent; and medicine, 3 percent.

Despite the Danish government’s efforts to decentralise education away from Denmark’s largest cities, the three most highly sought-after higher education institutions in 2021 are Copenhagen University, Aarhus University and the VIA University College (headquartered in Aarhus).

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How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

If you want to work in Denmark as a non EU citizen, you must apply for a residence and work permit and then get extensions to this, if you want to work in Denmark longer-term. Here's a guide to what you need to know.

How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

The rules regarding residence and work in Denmark are administered by the Danish Immigration Service and The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) under the Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

As an EU citizen, you can freely enter Denmark and begin to work upon arrival without needing a permit to work. The case is different for those who are not EU citizens.

There are various ways to get a work permit, depending on your profession. A list of different types of work sectors and requirements needed, can be found on the website

These include Fast-track scheme, Pay limit scheme, Positive lists, Researcher, Employed PHD, Guest researcher, Special individual qualifications, Herdsmen and farm managers, Establishment card, Start-up Denmark, Trainee, Certification, ESS Scheme, Authorisation, Labour Market Attachment, Drill rigs and other mobile workplaces, Volunteer, Sideline employment, Employment for adaptation and training purposes, Work permit for accompanying family members.

The Pay Limit Scheme is currently being debated in Parliament by the Danish government due to the country’s labour shortage and the need to attract more international workers. 

At the moment, you can get a work permit on the pay limit scheme if your salary is at least 448,000 kroner a year. You don’t need a specific educational background or a job within a specific professional field. If you have requested asylum in Denmark and have been offered a job with a high salary, you can also apply based on this scheme. 

The government has proposed that the annual salary requirement be lowered to 375,000 kroner over a two-year period, to allow more international workers into Denmark on the scheme.

However, four conservative parties – the Conservatives, Liberal Alliance, Liberals and Nye Borgerlige (New Right), would like the annual salary permanently reduced to 360,000 kroner but do not want the scheme to include nationals of Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

READ ALSO: Danish conservative parties want to exclude Muslim countries in foreign labour rules

The Fast-Track Scheme makes it faster and easier for certified companies to recruit foreign employees with special qualifications to work in Denmark. This means that as a highly qualified employee, you can have a quick and flexible job start in the certified company.  The scheme allows you to alternate between working in Denmark and working abroad.

The four conservative parties also want the fast-track scheme to be expanded, so that companies with five employees can make use of the scheme. At the moment the requirement is that companies must have 20 employees to be able to use the scheme.

The Positive List, for people with a higher education and for skilled work, is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark.

If you have been offered a job included in the Positive List, you can apply for a Danish residence and work permit based on this scheme.

The Positive List for people with a higher education and for skilled work is updated twice a year on 1st January and 1st July. Here is the latest updated list.

For requirement details of other work sectors, you can find more at as mentioned above.

What about partners and family members?

A residence and work permit based on a job in Denmark allows your family to come with you to Denmark. 

A permit can be granted to your spouse, registered or cohabiting partner as well as children under the age of 18 living at home.

Holding a residence permit as an accompanying family member to an employee in general allows you the right to work in Denmark. Therefore, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit if you get a job. You are also allowed to run your own business and sign up to a programme in an educational institution.

However, you must apply for a work permit if you want to work for the same company as your partner (who is referred to as sponsor), or if you want to work for a company closely linked to your partner’s company.

How long will my permit last?

Work permits are no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. So you also need to apply for an extension to residency based on your work permit, which will be on the same conditions as you got the first one.

In order to extend your permit, your employment must not have changed. This means that you must be employed in the same position, by the same employer and under the same or improved terms of employment.

If you change jobs, you need to apply for a new work permit or if your salary or other employment terms are diminished, you must inform SIRI.

If you have a resident permit based on your partner (sponsor’s) employment and their employment is extended, you must also apply for an extension of your residence permit.

Permanent residency

Once you become a permanent resident, you no longer need to extend your work and residence permit.

Permanent residency for non EU citizens is granted after living and working in Denmark for eight continuous years, or four years in certain circumstances. You can apply for permanent residency at anytime and it usually takes 10 months to process at a cost of 6,745 kroner.

If you need any more information or have questions about work permits, you can contact SIRI on their contact page.