For members


Why (and how) Danish provincial areas want to hire skilled foreign workers

Attracting international labour has become an initiative for a number of Denmark’s lesser-known municipalities, one that has only grown more important in today’s tight Danish labour market.

Ringkøbing-Skjern, Denmark’s largest municipality by area, is one of several provincial areas in Denmark making concerted efforts to attracted skilled foreign workers.
Ringkøbing-Skjern, Denmark’s largest municipality by area, is one of several provincial areas in Denmark making concerted efforts to attracted skilled foreign workers. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

In the past decade, the Danish population of Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality in western Jutland has decreased by nearly 8 percent, according to Statistics Denmark. 

However, in that same time frame, the municipality’s overall population has declined just 3.3 percent. Foreign residents, which the municipality has made a concerted effort to attract to the region since 2015, have made up the difference.

“I think the main reason politicians decided to put some money behind attracting and retaining internationals is because our population is decreasing and companies in our region need qualified labour,” Dorthe Frydendahl, Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality’s settlement coordinator, told The Local. 

Attracting foreign labour has become particularly important as Denmark faces a particularly tight labour market

According to Jobcenter Ringkøbing-Skjern, the unemployment rate within Ringkøbing-Skjern is 1.6 percent, half that of Denmark’s national unemployment rate of 3.3 percent.

Danish migration patterns drive immigration demand 

“The reason we see more municipalities in rural areas calling for action is because they have seen a lot of locals leave for Denmark’s urban centers,” Søren Kjærsgaard Høfler political consultant in global mobility at the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) told The Local. DI is an interest organisation representing approximately 18,500 companies across Denmark.

The shortage is especially acute for skilled labour, Høfler said.

That’s why attracting international labour was included as one of DI’s proposals to improve rural Denmark’s economy. Several of the recommendations are already coming to fruition, including attempts to improve transportation conditions and increase education opportunities in rural municipalities. 

“The companies based in these municipalities would like to stay there, but to do so, the companies not only have to recruit people to their company but also to their municipality,” Høfler said. 

One solution, he continued, has been a closer partnership between municipalities and companies attracting highly skilled international workers. 

In Ringkøbing-Skjern, the municipality – Denmark’s third most popular tourist destination – often recruits Germans who are familiar with the region from years of holidaying there. 

The municipality gathers CVs on its website for prospective residents from those interested in moving to the area and distributes them to local companies.

Vejle Municipality in southeastern Jutland has also expanded its efforts to recruit international talent. Among its most effective initiatives has been hiring an expat business consultant dedicated to helping international employees’ accompanying spouses and partners find work in the region, said Louise Nielsen.

Her role as settlement guide within Velje’s Newcomer Service department aims to assist international residents in the region. 

“If someone has trouble, they have a single point of contact they can meet face to face who can guide them, connect them to the right colleague, or advocate for them if they got a ‘no’ when they should have gotten a ‘yes’ from agencies,” Nielsen told The Local. 

What’s in it for the municipality?

Ringkøbing-Skjern is Denmark’s largest municipality by area. As such, maintaining the municipality’s population is integral to keeping schools, childcare facilities, and other social services available throughout its villages, said the municipality’s department head of external development, Sara Jørgensen.

“The only way we can do that is if people choose to live here,” Jørgensen told The Local. “If we didn’t have internationals settling in our villages, I don’t think we would be able to sustain the number of local schools and childcare facilities.”

“I think our politicians have seen the value of trying to be international in 2021,” Nielsen said, adding that tax-paying internationals can also help fill the municipality’s coffers. 

“[Our politicians] see the municipality’s role to help newcomers receive the help they need, whether they are Danish or not.”

Member comments

  1. What about then pushing for some very necessary changes at national level legislation and discourse? I don’t think I need to make explicit what these are

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For members


What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

It's not fun to lose your job, but Danish laws and collective agreements give you a number of rights and there are steps you can take to help insure yourself against the possibility of being out of work.

What you need to know if you lose your job in Denmark

Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage and low unemployment. Many companies and sectors are calling for additional foreign labour to meet their recruitment needs, something the government appears to be willing to take steps to accommodate.

Of course, none of these things mean individual companies might not be experiencing headwinds or that the situation can change. There are various kinds of business needs that could be the catalyst for a restructuring, such as financial hardships or pending mergers. This can also mean that some employees will lose their jobs.

If you do lose your job in Denmark, you are covered by certain aspects of the law. It is also a good idea to think about taking the necessary measures — such as A-kasse membership — that can protect your from some of the financial implications of unemployment.

Notice periods 

If you are covered by the Salaried Employees Act (Funktionærloven), then you are entitled to certain notice periods before any significant change happens to the terms of your employment.

You can see in your contract whether you are a salaried employee (funktionær), but generally, the term applies to staff who have been employed for over 1 month and work more than 8 hours weekly, on average.

Sectors in which staff are considered funktionærer include business and administration, purchasing, selling, technical and cleaning services; and management and supervision. In short, people who work in offices, sales or purchasing or certain types of warehouse jobs are likely to be covered.

Areas which may not be covered include factory work or craftsmanship, nor are people hired through temp agencies (vikarbureauer) covered by the act.

The notice periods provided by the Salaried Employees Act cover things like notification of termination of employment or significant changes to your job duties. 

The amount of notice that you are entitled to is determined by how much seniority you have, as follows:

0-6 months of employment

1 month’s notice

6 months to 3 years

3 months

3 years to 6 years

4 months

6 months to 3 years

3 months

6 years to 9 years

5 months

More than 9 years

6 months

When you have worked at the company for 12 or more years, you are also entitled to additional compensation (Danish: fratrædelsesgodtgørelse) if you are let go from your job, per the Danish Salaried Employees Act.  

The compensation is 1 month’s salary after 12 years’ employment and 3 months’ salary after 17 years of employment.

It is possible that your company will also provide other additional payments due to restructuring activities. This varies from company to company and is not part of the Danish Salaried Employees Act. 

Should I join an A-kasse?

Membership of an unemployment insurance service provider, an A-kasse (arbejdsløshedskasse) is the first step to keeping your income steady while you begin the process of finding new employment. Finding a new job is a task the A-kasse itself can assist you with.

It can be difficult to figure out which A-kasse to join and while some are cheaper than others, it’s not just about paying an insurance premium. In the event that you become unemployed, it’s good to have an A-kasse that is an appropriate fit for your background, so that they can better help you with your plan to get back into the workforce.

A-kasser are private associations which have been authorised by the Danish state to administer unemployment benefits. The state regulates the requirements for receiving benefits while the A-kasse administers the benefits.

If you are interested in A-kasse membership, you must apply to the A-kasse of your choice, either as a full-time or part-time insured member. A-kasse members pay a tax-deductible monthly fee, which gives them the right to receive unemployment benefits (dagpenge) should they become unemployed.

There are a lot of rules that you’ll have to familiarise yourself with, including when you will be allowed to apply for benefits and how long you can receive them for. Members must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits, which include being a member of an A-kasse for at least 12 months.

According to Denmark’s digital self-service website, one must also have earned at least 246,924 kroner (2022) in the past three years for full-time insured and 164,616 kroner (2022) for part-time insured. You also have to have worked for a certain period of time within the last three years, which varies depending on whether you were insured as full-time or part-time.

READ ALSO: A-kasse: Everything foreigners in Denmark need to know about unemployment insurance

What else should I keep in mind?

In general, the Danish labour market system is not primarily based on laws, as you may be used to from other countries, but on agreements and negotiations, primarily collective bargaining agreements or overenskomster between trade unions and employer associations. You may have heard of the concept ‘the Danish model’ (den danske model) referred to in this regard.

A large proportion of people who work in Denmark are therefore trade union members.

Collective bargaining agreements cover many aspects of Denmark’s labour market, from wages to paid parental leave. 

A lesser-known fact about the Danish labour model is that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements won’t have to negotiate general employment terms – regardless of whether they are trade union members.

There are large central agreements in both the public and private sectors. Therefore, employees whose contracts are regulated by a central bargaining agreement won’t individually have to negotiate general terms of employment, like working hours or a minimum salary. 

The particular collective agreement upon which your contract is based may be mentioned in your contract, and if it isn’t, you can ask your employer. 

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?