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
A representative for Danish municipalities said services may have to be cut if a labour shortage is not addressed. Photo by everdrop GmbH on Unsplash

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? 

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Lack of staff ‘biggest challenge’ for Danish health authorities

A lack of staff in the Danish health system is the greatest challenge currently faced by the sector in the country, according to a senior health official.

Lack of staff 'biggest challenge' for Danish health authorities

The head of the health committee for Denmark’s Regional health authorities, Karin Friis Bach, raised concerns over the staff shortage in comments to DR on Friday and repeated those sentiments in an interview with news wire Ritzau on Saturday.

The five Regions, the authorities which administrate hospitals and public healthcare services in Denmark, believe staff shortages are likely to cause issues for a number of years into the future.

“We are looking at some smaller year groups [graduating from education programmes, ed.] which will be the ones taking jobs in the health service at the same time the number of elderly people with chronic illnesses increases,” Bach said.

The Covid-19 crisis and resultant strain on the health service has further exacerbated staffing challenges at hospitals and clinics, she said.

“That gave an extra push to the problem we were already looking at, “she said.

The senior health official said that while sufficient funding was important, health services could not exist without sufficient staff.

Regional health boards have long expected to see staff shortages hit in coming years and have therefore looked for ways to address the issue.

“This is about how we can use the resources we have in the most sensible way possible. We are working with digitisation, with more targeted treatment, and with giving more focuses pathways for patients,” she said.

Last week’s announcement by universities of their new intakes for the forthcoming academic year showed an ongoing decline in the popularity of occupations including nursing as well as childcare and teaching.

Those three education programme types, as well as social worker educations, have seen an overall decrease by 14 percent in application numbers since 2019.