Danish island hires social care workers from EU countries due to shortage

The municipal government on southern Danish island Lolland has begun hiring staff from Spain, Italy and Hungary to address a major shortage of social care personnel.

Danish island hires social care workers from EU countries due to shortage
Denmark is short of staff in its elderly and social care sectors. File photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Lolland said it was short of 90 personnel and had now begun the process of hiring staff from the EU, broadcaster DR reports.

The last six months has seen more than 15,000 available positions in the social care or SOSU sector go unfilled nationally, according to government figures reported by DR.

By 2030, Denmark will be short of 16,000 staff for social care jobs, according to the national organisation for municipalities, Kommunernes Landsforening (KL). That is in part because the number of people aged over 80 in Denmark is projected to increase to 134,000 over the next eight year.

Lolland is currently short of 90 staff for the sector, DR reports.

Agreements have already been made with social care staff who will undergo language courses before starting work on Lolland.

“16 have said ‘yes’, and they have begun an intensive language course online. That means they are now sitting at home acquiring the basic language skills,” Lolland’s mayor Holger Schou Rasmussen told DR.

They will later study in Denmark and will be ready to join the Danish labour market in March, according to the plan.

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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.