The financial crisis has swung a brutal scythe throughout the entire economy over the past five years, but it has been particularly hard on those without an education or job training. The number of untrained, unemployed Danes has risen significantly since 2007, according to new statistics from both Eurostat and Danmarks Statistik.
During the first quarter of 2007, 6.9 percent of Danes listed as unskilled were unemployed. This year, that number has nearly doubled to 13 percent, far above the national unemployment average of 8.2 percent reported by the EU, which uses a different method of calculation than Danmarks Statistik. According to its numbers, the national unemployment rate is just over six percent.
“Unskilled workers have clearly been hit hardest by the crisis,” Lars Andersen, head of Arbejdernes Erhvervsråd, an economic policy institute told public broadcaster DR. “The higher your education, the better your chances are of finding a job.”
The high level of unemployment for Danes seem confusing in the face of recent articles stating that employers looking for unskilled labour are forced to higher foreigners. Employers say that the jobs go to the foreigners because the nation’s social benefits are so high that it does not pay for Danes to take low-paying, unskilled positions.
The latest numbers reveal that foreigners fill fully 80 percent of all jobs in the hotel, restaurant and catering industries and 30 percent in the cleaning business. Half of the jobs at plant nurseries are filled by workers coming from outside the country.
Trade union 3F, which represents unskilled workers, said there were plenty of Danes looking for unskilled work, but the jobs have to come with a decent salary and benefits. Morten Dahlberg, the chairman of 3F’s Frederikshavn office, said that if employers make jobs attractive, they will get applicants.
Meanwhile, Danmarks Statistik said there were currently eight times more unskilled workers seeking employment than there were jobs for them to fill.
Although national unemployment figures for cleaners and factory workers are still well below the EU average, the Eurostat data show that the crisis has hit unskilled Danes harder than similar groups in Sweden, Holland, France and Finland. Unemployment among unskilled Germans has actually dropped from 17.8 percent to 12.7 percent since 2007.