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WORKING IN DENMARK

Age charity wants Danish schools opened abroad to solve worker shortage

Age concern charity DanAge (Ældre Sagen) says Danish social care education programmes should be opened in foreign countries to address the chronic labour shortage suffered by the sector.

Age charity wants Danish schools opened abroad to solve worker shortage
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visits retirement home Plejehjemmet Annebergcentret in Aalborg, August 2022. Age concern charity Ældre Sagen wants Danish schools to be set up in foreign countries to train and recruit staff for the care sector, which is suffering a labour shortage. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish welfare courses that take place abroad are a potential solution to a serious lack of staff in elderly care, the CEO of DanAge, Bjarne Hastrup, told newspaper Berlingske.

Germany, Spain, India and the Phillippines are potential locations for the schools, according to the charity.

“And my question to politicians would be: ‘If you’re not going to do this, what are you going to do?’,” Hastrup told Berlingske.

In addition to giving students social care qualifications, the schools would also teach them the Danish language and culture, Hastrup suggests.

Nurses from India and the Phillippines should also be allowed to travel to Denmark and work in elderly care while waiting for the nursing qualifications to be authorised by Danish authorities, DanAge proposes.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark take so long to authorise foreign medical professionals?

If the foreign nurses are denied authorisation, they should then be offered an alternative nursing qualification, which they would be able to study for in Denmark while continuing to work in elderly care, the charity said.

The proposal comes as DanAge on Thursday hosted a debate with Danish political party leaders at which it hoped to push for more political action on the sector’s labour shortage.

DanAge also wants au pairs – who can be granted temporary work and residence permits in Denmark under special au pair rules – to be offered a new work permit on expiry of their au pair contracts so that they can opt to stay in Denmark and work in the elderly sector.

Hastrup told Berlingske that the idea of training future staff in schools based abroad could be transferred to other areas of the health service which are also experiencing labour shortages.

It is unclear at the current time whether the charity’s proposals will garner political backing or momentum.

Danish work permit rules for non-EU nationals are restrictive, with one of the most popular pathways, the Pay Limit Scheme, requiring employers to pay a minimum wage high enough to prevent hires in many social care roles.

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

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ECONOMY

Unemployment down in Denmark but analysts predict more without work

The number of people without work in Denmark fell slightly in October, with the total of 75,200 lower than September’s figure by 200.

Unemployment down in Denmark but analysts predict more without work

The data from Statistics Denmark therefore show a marginal decrease, which does not translate to a percentage drop in employment according to the agency.

That means 2.6 percent of Denmark’s workforce is still currently unemployed.

“The small drop in October is due to 300 fewer non-activated [not in return-to-work programmes, ed.] and 100 more activated jobseekers,” Statistics Denmark said.

Unemployment appears to still be trending downwards, which analyst Brian Friis Helmer of Arebejdernes Landsbank said was surprising.

“We have an economy that actually looks good but we have sky-high inflation and dreary economic forecasts. So it’s surprising that both unemployment and employment still seem to be withstanding this headwind,” he said.

But it is a matter of time before unemployment begins to creep upwards, according to senior economist Tore Stramer of the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv).

“The more forward-looking key metrics for the labour market have unfortunately begun to wobble considerably in recent months,” Stramer said.

“The number of available job notices has fallen by around 22 percent since February and the number of redundancy notices has meanwhile increased to the highest level since the coronavirus crisis in 2020,” he said in a written comment to news wire Ritzau.

The economist said he expects unemployment to go up by between 25,000 and 50,000 by the end of 2023.

An additional 20,000 people could lose their jobs in 2024, he said.

The construction and hospitality sectors could be amongst the most vulnerable,” he said.

Another analyst, Sydbank senior economist Søren Kristensen, also told Ritzau he believes unemployment will go up but said a slight cooling down of the labour market might be beneficial. Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage in several sectors.

“But we are concerned this might be a case of more than just a cooling-off,” he said.

“We expect a fall in employment figures of more than 60,000 persons during the course of 2023. They won’t all show up as being unemployed persons but we could easily end up in a situation where interest and inflation combine to catapult the number of unemployed people to over 100,000,” he said.

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