For members


Is it easier for foreigners to find a job outside Denmark’s major cities?

Although the density of job opportunities for foreign residents is likely to be highest in larger cities, outlying municipalities contend that there is plenty of demand for international labour across Denmark.

Vejle is one of a number smaller cities and rural municipalities in Denmark which aim to promote local opportunities for skilled foreign workers.
Vejle is one of a number smaller cities and rural municipalities in Denmark which aim to promote local opportunities for skilled foreign workers. Photo: Mikkel Berg Pedersen/Freelance/Ritzau Scanpix

Earlier this year, construction began on the much anticipated Femern Belt, an 18-kilometre immersed tunnel beneath the Baltic sea connecting the Danish island of Lolland with the German island of Femern. 

Not only will the tunnel better connect Scandinavia to Central Europe, it may also attract new residents to the southern Danish region and reinvigorate its labour market, said Julia Böhmer, international consultant for Lolland Municipality.

“Lolland has for many years been an area with very few development options,” Böhmer told The Local. “[The tunnel] is a new beginning for Lolland. Hopefully the area will develop into a new international hub.”

Part of that plan relies on attracting international talent. 

It’s a goal the municipality shares with many other lesser-known municipalities around Denmark and one that has taken on increasing importance in Denmark’s current labour market.

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

What kinds of jobs are there outside of the major cities?

According to Vejle Municipality’s settlement guide, Louise Nielsen, there are more than 600,000 jobs within an hour’s drive of Vejle. 

“Being located in the triangle region [Trekantsområdet in Danish, ed.], there are thousands of job opportunities within an hour’s drive,” Mariola Kajkowska told The Local. Originally from Poland, Kajkowska moved to Denmark in 2003 and lived in Esbjerg, Sommersted, and Herning before moving to Vejle in 2019, where she works as an employee retention consultant. 

“Vejle is a great place to find a job,” Kajkowska said, adding that there are often fewer applicants for these jobs than there are in larger cities.

Both Lego and Siemens Gamesa are large companies within commuting distance of Vejle. 

One hundred kilometres east, Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality is home to several high-profile Danish companies that hire many internationals, including wind energy turbine company Vestas and dairy producer Arla. 

However, the municipality’s small- and medium-sized companies are also interested in recruiting international labour, said Ringkøbing-Skjern’s department head of external development, Sara Jørgensen.

To connect prospective employees with these lesser-known companies, Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality has launched a website for internationals, available in English and German, where you can upload a CV that will be sent out to 700 local companies. Recently, a German man submitted his CV via the website; within three weeks, he had a signed job contract.

Demand for international labour in Ringkøbing-Skjern includes both highly skilled workers and skilled trades, particularly in the farming and manufacturing industries. Tourism and green energy are also important industries in the region.

Lolland also has many job opportunities in green energy, as well as in the agriculture and food production sectors.

“There are more than 1,000 unemployed internationals with university degrees in Copenhagen,” said Dorte Stang, employment specialist at Femern Agency, an employment service for companies involved in the Femern Belt. “Meanwhile, we lack these very skills in southern Denmark.” 

In September, Stang helped organise a virtual conference to inform nearly 200 unemployed foreigners with higher education degrees living in the greater Copenhagen area about job opportunities in Lolland. 

In addition to Lolland’s largest industries, there is also a need for skilled trades employees as the Femern Belt project advances. Although the Agency tries to attract Danish labour as much as possible, Stang said they acknowledge that the scale of the project is so vast that it won’t be possible to employ only Danish labour. 

However, she acknowledged that it can be difficult to navigate the job market in Lolland. She recommends checking out Business Lolland Falster and the Femern Agency’s websites for a list of companies operating in the region who may be seeking skilled foreign workers.

“If you asked me five years ago if you should move to Lolland, I would have said it was a little too early,” Stang said. “Now, there is so much hype and energy surrounding the Femern Belt. The timing is perfect.” 

Do I need to speak Danish?

Although jobs related to the Femern Belt will be in English, Stang said it’s important to speak Danish to succeed professionally and socially in Lolland. 

“It’s okay if you speak only English in the beginning,” Stang said, “but I think it’s important to show you’re willing to learn Danish and truly become a local.”

In Ringkøbing-Skjern, speaking Danish is also important for expanding one’s job opportunities. 

“There aren’t as many companies here searching for employees that only speak English,” Lea Cesar, a Slovenian living in Ringkøbing, told The Local. When she first moved to the area and struggled to find a job, she took it as a challenge and opened her own cafe in central Ringkøbing called Baking Sins.

Antoniya Petkov, originally from Bulgaria, faced similar challenges finding work when she moved to Ringkøbing several years ago after her husband accepted a job at a wind energy company in the area. 

“Most of the job opportunities in my field in the area require a high level of Danish language, which I am still working toward,” Petkov told The Local. In the meantime, she continues to commute to Aarhus, where she works as a technical recruiter at a large Danish software firm. 

“However, there are a lot more opportunities for developers, engineers and people with a technical job profile where English isn’t required,” Petkov said.

Even in technical roles, Danish proficiency helps. 

Victor Balaban, originally from Moldova, moved to Vejle while working as an engineer at Siemens Gamesa. Although he said there are plenty of job opportunities in the region, Balaban said his options would be significantly more limited if he didn’t speak Danish.

Candice Progler-Thomsen, an American who has lived in Denmark on and off for three decades and now lives in Lolland, said Danish proficiency is “almost essential” to find a job in the municipality. 

“There will be greater job opportunities here for individuals who learn Danish,” she said.

“But just because it’s easier to find a job in the cities doesn’t mean internationals shouldn’t look in other areas as well.”

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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?