With Danish unemployment at around 3 percent, its lowest rate for almost a decade, businesses are in need of more hands. Nevertheless, immigrants are still finding it difficult to find jobs in Denmark.
Jayne Watt, an immigrant from the UK, had to walk around her neighbourhood in Copenhagen handing out her resume in order to get hired. Without a bachelor’s degree, Watt said her employment options in Denmark are limited.
“Everyone here has the opportunity to get an education,” she said. Because of this, she finds it challenging to compete against her Danish counterparts in the job market. “I have to fight doubly hard if I want to get a job.”
More than a welcome
Watt is not the only foreigner who has struggled to get a job in Denmark or in Europe in general. According to Eurostat, the unemployment rate for immigrants in the European Union is 7.5 percent, while for non-immigrants it is 6.9 percent.
This is why Karey-Anne Duevang, a fellow Brit, founded Welcome Group Consulting, a company that helps foreigners to enter the workforce and become integrated, whilst also assisting Danish companies that want to hire immigrants.
After moving to Denmark, Duevang also found it difficult to get a job. Even though she had held managerial positions in her home country and overseas, her first step up the employment ladder was “a survival job”.
This experience, as well as her job as an operations manager, has helped her to better understand the Danish workforce. Not only did she struggle to enter the market, but she was later tasked with hiring and training workers.
“That enabled me to be on both sides of the fence,” she said.
More effort needed
The irony is that Danish employers are in dire need of workers, but often face hurdles to take on suitable internationals. In October, the Ministry of Employment launched a program intended to “make it easier and less bureaucratic for Danish companies to attract and employ foreign labour”.
Duevang believes the emphasis should not just be placed on bringing in more immigrants, but on hiring those already in the country. And another priority, she adds, should be integrating them.
“Getting them here is one obstacle. Getting them to stay is the next,” Duevang said.
Steen Nielsen, the deputy head of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), has a similar perspective.
“It is absolutely vital that we as a society make a great effort to integrate them into the workforce,” he recently said.