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Business group says Denmark needs more foreign labour if country ups military service

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Business group says Denmark needs more foreign labour if country ups military service
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen meets soldiers serving Danish military service, March 7th 2024. The government wants to increase military service but a major business group says this would create a labour supply shortage. Photo: Mikkel Berg Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix

The effect on the Danish labour market must be considered if the government goes through with a plan to extend military service, according to the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

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Earlier this week, the government said that, as part of a plan for ramped-up military spending, it wants to extend military service to 11 months and call up women as well as men.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) says this would impact the amount of labour available to Danish businesses and that foreign labour could be one way to up the shortfall.

The labour pool available to Danish business will shrink by 2,100 due to the higher number of conscripted young Danes under the government plan, DI has calculated.

“We support the Danish military being strengthened. But we are pointing out that it will mean we are short of staff in private businesses,” DI’s head of labour market policy Steen Nielsen told news wire Ritzau.

“It’s therefore very important that the government has a focus on increasing the labour pool. Because there is already a shortage of workers,” he added.

That would include new initiatives to attract labour from abroad, DI has suggested.

The organisation said that a more efficient public sector is another area on which the government could focus.

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The government has already set itself a target of increasing the labour supply by 45,000 by the next general election, but the additional conscriptions will mean young Danes begin their civilian careers later, while work to increase military capacity will draw from other sectors, DI said in a statement.

That means “a need to quickly implement several initiatives that strengthen the labour supply,” Nielsen said in the statement

“Here, it is first and foremost important to get more international colleagues to fill vacant positions, under proper employment conditions,” he said.

“And we must ensure an efficient public sector through reforms,” he added.

The government wants to reform the Danish military service system so that women can be called up as well as men. Currently, only men can be asked to fulfil military service.

“A crucial part of strengthening the military is that young Danes become part of our defence. We must therefore have a higher degree of military service,” Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said the plan will mean all young Danes “must complete military service on the same terms and will be able to be conscripted”.

The government also wants to extend military service to 11 months from the current basic period of four months, and to increase the total number of conscripts from 4,700 to 5,000.

Meanwhile, investment on increasing the capacity of the Danish military would indirectly affect the amount of labour available in other areas, according to Nielsen.

The opposition of other parties to conscription of women could yet provide an obstacle to the government as it seeks to push through the change.

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