‘Positive list’ backtrack – teachers and nurses “don’t fit bill” for preferential immigration

The government is looking to reform various schemes that contribute to the recruitment of skilled foreigners

In the face of mounting criticism from unions, foreign teachers and nurses will no longer be given preferential treatment when immigrating to Denmark to work. The move by the employment minister Mette Frederiksen to strike the two types of positions from the so-called ‘positive list’, a list of fields that are suffering from a lack of qualified applicants, comes after they were included in the most recent update, despite high levels of employment in those two professions.

Frederiksen said the updated list should be changed, since it contained professions that did not need to attract foreign applicants.

“There are always professions that require professionals from abroad, during a crisis and when we have high employment. But I don’t believe that school teachers and nurses fit that bill at the moment,” Frederiksen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “I believe that it is essential that we recruit the right people.”

Labour unions pointed out that the two professions were added to the list at a time when every tenth teaching position had been slashed, and that 500 nurses had been forced to look to Norway for work in a bid to avoid unemployment.

In addition, foreign nurses and teachers coming to Denmark to work often find that landing a job is next to impossible, despite their vocation being listed as facing a labour shortage.

The positive list was introduced after the previous Venstre-led government came to power in 2001, as a way to help attract applicants in fields lacking Danish applicants, and is updated twice a year, on January 1 and on July 1. The current list contains 37 professions and compared with the July 2012 update, 33 professions have been dropped while 20 new ones have been added, including teachers and nurses.

The Socialdemokraterne-led government has promised to reform the various schemes that facilitate the recruitment of skilled foreigners, though it has not been decided when the reform will take place.

Dansk Sygeplejeråd, the national nurses' union, was delighted that Frederiksen planned to review the list, calling it ”grotesque” that three types of nurses had been included.

“I commend her for reacting as she did and it’s good sense that has prevailed,” Anni Pilgaard, a spokesperson for Dansk Sygeplejeråd, told Jyllands-Posten. “I think that we should cut it from the list immediately. After all, it’s been there for a week, and there is no reason to discuss it further when the evidence is right there for all to see.”

See the complete ‘positive list’ (English)

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