‘Non-Western’ Danish employment levels hit record level

More people than ever before from ‘non-Western’ countries are now active on the Danish labour market.

'Non-Western' Danish employment levels hit record level
Danish employment in the 'non-Western' demographic is at a record high. Photo by Parker Byrd on Unsplash

New figures from national agency Statistics Denmark, analysed by trade union Dansk Metal, show employment rates among people from backgrounds considered ‘non-Western’ are historically high.

The figures show that 58.7 percent of non-Western immigrants aged between 15 and 64 were in salaried employment in Denmark in the first quarter of 2022.

That represents the highest figure at any point during the 14 years it has been recorded.

Dansk Metal’s senior economist Erik Bjørsted called the data ”really positive”.

“Historically, non-Western immigrants have regrettably had a very weak connection to the labour market. They are also still behind employment rates of Danes,” Bjørsted said.

“But they are narrowing the gap, so we are definitely on the right track,” he said.

Favourable conditions on the Danish labour market are partly to thank for the positive trend, he noted.

In official data, Denmark categorises all EU and EEA countries, along with Andorra, Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, the United Kingdom, United States and the Vatican as ‘Western’. Everywhere else is ‘non-Western’.

The ‘non-Western’ categorisation is sometimes further divided into MENAPT (Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey) and all other non-Western countries.

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Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Local authorities and a major business interest organisation have urged Denmark’s government to address a labour shortage.

Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Unmet demand for labour in both private businesses and the public sector has reached a crisis point, according to an appeal to the government to reach a broader labour agreement. 

Parliament must renew its efforts to find a new national compromise which will secure more labour, the National Association of Municipalities (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said according to financial media Finans.

“The parties [in parliament] must be honest with voters and start a completely different and strict prioritisation of what the public sector can offer people,” mayor and KL chairperson Martin Damm told news wire Ritzau.

“Otherwise, the parties must find the labour needed for private companies to provide growth and wellbeing, and for us at municipalities to have the staff and economy to deliver the services people expect,” he said.

The municipalities will need 44,000 additional employees by 2030 due to increasing numbers of children and elderly in the population, according to KL.

Short the lack of labour persist, municipal governments could be forced to reduce the priority of services such as cleaning for elderly residents, according to Damm.

Danish businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit staff and could hire 38,000 new workers immediately if they were available, according to DI, which represents the interests of about 19,000 Danish companies. 

Lars Sandahl Sørensen, managing director of DI, firmly believes the answer to the labour shortage lies outside Danish borders. 

“We will need many more foreigners,” Sørensen told Finans.

“It is not about getting cheap labour, but about getting people at all. We are in a situation where we do not have employees to carry out the things on green conversion that we have already decided to do, and that we would like to do on health and welfare,” he said.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard told Finans that the government agreed a deal on international recruitment shortly before the summer break.

READ MORE: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you aren’t an EU national?