Green card programme a failure, politicians say
Thousands of university graduates from countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have come to Denmark in recent years via a green card programme that allows highly-skilled foreigners three years to find work in Denmark. The programme has faced criticism after revelations that only a few green card holders found work within their field while the rest ended up taking unskilled work.
Less than half of the 5,600 highly-educated foreigners who got a green card in the period between 2010-2012 have a job in Denmark today. The rest have abandoned the country or live off savings and loans from their relatives outside of Denmark. Those entering the country under the green card programme are not eligible for social help.
Often those immigrants who do find work find themselves in part-time and unskilled positions in the cleaning, hotel, restaurant and transport industries, according to statistics from the Employment Ministry. In these positions, green card holders are often exploited because they aren't fully aware of their rights, according to the Danish Green Card Association. This was exemplified by a recent case involving a university-educated Pakistani man who claims that his employer at a Vesterbro kiosk held him against his will and subjected him to physical abuse.
"The numbers show that that programme doesn’t work as it was intended," Lennart Damsbo-Andersen (Socialdemokraterne), the head of parliament’s employment committee, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Damsbo-Andersen said that system needs to be adjusted so that companies can continue to attract specialists that they cannot find in Denmark without leaving people unemployed.
"It should not be advertised that work is available when there are no jobs,” he said.
Representatives from other political parties also want to see changes in the programme.
"It is wrong to create a system where highly-trained workers wind up displacing the unskilled," Socialistisk Folkeparti's labour spokesman, Eigil Andersen, told Jyllands-Posten.
Dansk Folkeparti's immigration spokesperson, Martin Henriksen, would like to see the entire programme abolished.
"They are taking jobs from Danes and resident immigrants who will wind up on public assistance," he told Jyllands-Posten.
The country’s labour unions also remain sceptical about the programme.
"This programme in no way increases the level of competency in Denmark, because [green card holders] work as wage earners far below their [education] level,” Per Christensen, a spokesperson for trade union 3F, told Jyllands-Posten.
Venstre’s immigration spokesperson Inger Støjberg said those coming here on the programme should have known what they were getting into.
"These people have tried their luck in Denmark of their own volition,” she said. “If I was seeking a green card in another country, I would first examine the possibility of getting a job.”