Government promises reforms to attract skilled foreign workers

Chamber of commerce says reforms are needed to lure needed talent to Danish businesses

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
April 16th, 2012 4:08 pm| by admin
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Dansk Erhverv, the Danish chamber of commerce, and major companies like Novo Nordisk are calling on the government to institute reforms they say are needed to attract more highly-skilled workers to the country.  

Among the suggestions submitted to the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (S), are the active recruitment of workers with the skills and education that businesses say they need, a reduction in the minimum income barrier and changes in educational policy so that Denmark pays only to educate international students in those areas where businesses say they need specialists.

Frederiksen said she has heard the message and promised to start reforms designed to get companies the workers they need.

Business leaders say that red tape, ever-changing immigration laws and a lack of co-ordinated effort among local and national authorities discourage foreign workers from coming to work in Denmark, and that both businesses and workers are losing out on the diversity and richness that different cultures provide.

"Skilled foreigners are a gift for Denmark,"  said Tina Horwitz, the executive secretary of the Consortium for Global Talent. "We need to take action now – the rest of the world is not waiting to take global talents onboard." 

The consortium counts some of the country’s largest companies like DONG Energy, Carlsberg and Vestas among its members.

A recent study conducted by the chamber suggested that Danes need to be more open to foreigners once they do decide to work here. The study polled 556 expats currently working in Denmark and found that only one in ten of the foreign workers believed that Danes were “very open” to them. Fully one fourth of those responding said that they found Danes “very closed".

"Danes are good at networking with each other, but rarely with foreigners,” Horwitz said.

The chamber projects that by 2020 Denmark will be short some 15,000 highly-educated and skilled workers needed to maintain the country’s current level of international competition.

“Many of those workers will have to come from abroad,” Jannik Schack Linnemann, the chamber’s chief researcher, told Berlingske. “We need to be better at welcoming them.”

Linnemann called the requests being made to the government a “first step" and a signal that businesses have not forgotten the administration's promises to work to get them get the skilled workers they need. The chamber wants a campaign spotlighting Denmark’s economic, cultural and lifestyle benefits.

Charlotte Mark, the CEO of Microsoft's development centre emphasised that Denmark needs to be more competitive to attract skilled foreigners who can often often can pick and choose between jobs around the world.

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