As thousands risk losing benefits, 10,000 jobs go unfilled

Disconnect between employment agencies and companies results in unfilled vacancies

Despite a national unemployment rate of 6 percent some 10,000 vacancies went unfilled in the autumn of 2012, according to a survey of 14,000 workplaces by Arbejdsmarkedsstyrelsen, the national labour market authority. The positions were available in a wide variety of trades, including construction, cleaning and cooking.

“It is sad to see that thousands of jobs cannot be filled when there are more than 160,000 people who are unemployed,” Henrik Bach Mortensen, from employer’s association Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA), told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “The employment system has failed the labour market and we need to get to the bottom of where the failure is happening.”

The news comes as reforms to the unemployment system will see thousands lose their benefits in the coming months, and Mortensen said companies’ inability to hire underscored the problems they face getting in touch with potential employees.

“These are not jobs for rocket scientists or other highly specialised people,” he said. “We are talking about cleaning jobs and other work requiring relatively basic skills that many of those needing work have.”

The survey did not explain how the vacancies were advertised or whether they were posted at employment agencies, in newspapers or on company websites.

“Of course it is not right that at a time when we are fighting to find jobs for those unemployed who are about to fall out of the benefit system that there are 10,000 vacancies that were not filled,” Verner Sand Kirk, of A-kassernes Samvirke, which representes the nation’s unemployment insurers, told Jyllands-Posten. “We have to find out what went wrong.”

Kirk criticised the survey for being a “half study” that failed to uncover the cause of the problem. He worried that it could have consequences on the nation’s unemployment system.

The unmployment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), said it was both “sobering and paradoxical” that the 10,000 vacant jobs were not earmarked for unemployed workers about to lose their benefits.

“Employment agencies should help the unemployed while at the same time meeting the needs of Danish businesses,” Frederiksen told Jyllands-Posten. “In 10,000 cases, the connection between the two was not good enough.”

Frederiksen called it a “fundamental problem” that long-term unemployed were not being sent to companies that needed employees.