CPH Post


Green card scheme a continued failure

Educated foreigners still resort to menial jobs after being lured to Denmark with the promise of career opportunities

Muhammad Asad, a green card holder from Pakistan, is one of many who have had difficulties finding qualified work in Denmark (Photo: Peter Stanners)

January 20, 2014

by Peter Stanners

Highly-educated foreigners continue to work long hours for poor wages after coming to Denmark using the Green Card Scheme.

DR’s news programme '21 Søndag' reported yesterday that of 149 green card holders it contacted, 80 percent had only found unskilled work, while 27 percent earned less than 60 kroner per hour.

Søren Heisel, a spokesperson for the labour union 3F, said many green card holders live under slave-like conditions and called for the scheme to be altered.

READ MORE: A green card to a grey zone

A familiar story
“They are desperate and vulnerable. Many borrowed money to get here and when they can’t find work or claim benefits, they take whatever work they can to buy food and pay their rent,” Heisel told DR Nyheder.

DR’s statistics match other surveys conducted by Rambøll and a PhD student, who showed similarly high number of green card holders resorting to unskilled labour in Denmark.

The Green Card Scheme has attracted around 8,000 highly-qualified workers since it was introduced in 2007 to help Denmark find skilled foreign workers needed by the labour market.

READ MORE: Green card a red light for ambitious immigrants

Changes expected
But the latest news has led employment minister Mette Frederiksen (S) to open up to the possibility of changing the scheme.

“We are currently looking at all of our rules regarding international recruitment. It makes no sense to attract highly qualified labour from abroad who simply find unskilled work,” Frederiksen told the tabloid Ekstra Bladet.

The Copenhagen Post has previously highlighted problems with the scheme that encourages educated foreigners to look for work in Denmark, but who often end up in low-paid and menial jobs. Saaed Ur Rehman, who was featured heavily in the '21 Søndag' wrote an article in November that highlighted the plight of many green card holders like himself. He has since given up on Denmark and returned to Pakistan. 

READ MORE: Green card programme a failure, politicians say

Problematic program
Another green card holder highlighted by The Copenhagen Post was Muhammed Asad – pictured above – who had difficulty finding work because employers were unfamiliar with the immigration rights the green card afforded him.

Another, software engineer Aftab Baig, complained of being exploited by the owner of a kiosk where he worked – the only job he could find.

Among the major criticism of the scheme are that foreigners with inappropriate qualifications for the labour market are given green cards, and that green card holders need more help navigating the labour market and developing a network once they arrive.

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