The Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA) says the positive news can in part be put down to the tripartite agreement the government entered into with businesses and union representatives last year.
Under the agreement, a new so-called ‘basic integration education programme’ (integrationsgrunduddannelse, IGU), was introduced, aiming to put refugees in short-term jobs at an apprentice salary level of between 50 to 120 kroner ($7-$17) per hour.
The IGU jobs can last for up to two years and refugees are offered skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks.
Asylum seekers cost the Danish state an average net total of 163,000 kroner ($23,000) per person in 2014, according to figures published by the Ministry of Finance on Monday.
But other numbers released by the report paint a more positive picture.
Refugees have come a long way as far as finding work in Denmark goes, with more people finding work more quickly in recent years, according to the figures.
“There are a lot of signs that things are going in the right direction. Refugees are more commonly making it on to the job market, finding employment, wage subsidised work and internships than before,” Berit Toft Fuhl, senior consultant with DA, told newspaper Dagbladet Information.
Much of the improvement in refugees’ employment prospects can be put down to the tripartite agreement, said DA.
Prior to the agreement, only three percent of refugees were considered available for immediate employment. Today, the figure stands at 60 percent, and DA expects it to continue to rise, reports the newspaper.
A significant number of refugees also found work with Danish businesses last year, according to Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri) figures, with 3,100 finding full-time employment between March and November last year – an increase of 75 percent.
Another positive development was in the area of welfare-supported internships (virksomhedspraktik), an oft-used intermediate step towards work in the Danish job market. Approximately 6,000 refugees are currently engaged in this type of employment activity with Danish businesses, reports Information.
The introduction of IGU has also helped almost 400 refugees into part-time work, according to the report.
Ministry of Finance figures in turn show that refugees are finding work sooner and that the number of asylum seekers is falling.
In 2015 – the peak year for asylum arrivals in the country – around ten percent of refugees on two-year asylum permits were in work. In 2016, this proportion had increased to 25 percent, according to Dagbladet Information.
“There are, as such, signs that those granted asylum are finding work faster than previously,” writes the ministry in its report, adding that “there is still some way to go to reach the government’s target, whereby half of all asylum seekers should be working three years after arrival in Denmark.”
The ministry also notes that there may be some difference between its own registration-based analysis and figures posted by the Ministry for Immigration.
The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) recognised the positive signs of the figures but maintained that immigration was a huge drain on the Danish economy.
“We did not support the tripartite agreement because of IGU and the right to social welfare, which is given on a flimsy basis, while others spend several years earning it. And if you look at the report overall then you can see that integration has failed. The bill will continue to increase for many years if we don’t limit the amount of people coming here,” DF party chairperson Peter Skaarup told Dagbladet Information.