Enough promises, fix the green card now

To say that the Green Card Scheme isn’t working out as intended would be an understatement.

Studies have consistently shown that the majority of skilled foreign workers who come to Denmark with a green card end up in unskilled work. That was not the idea when the government introduced the plan in 2007 as a way to fill gaps in the labour market with highly-qualified candidates. The Copenhagen Post has been highlighting problems with the Green Card Scheme over the past few years. During that time, we have heard multiple promises from politicians to fix the programme, but the only thing that comes is a constant pushing back of the timeframe.

At the same time the government admits that the programme is not working, it is handing out new green cards at an astounding pace. The number of green cards issued in 2013 represented a more than 80 percent increase over 2012. If politicians are well aware of the scheme’s downfalls, one would have to question why they are continuing to issue them at all, let alone giving them out like never before. Promises to take a comprehensive look at the Green Card Scheme are of little solace to the hundreds of qualified foreigners who came to Denmark every year for the promise of a better life only to end up as a dishwasher or kiosk clerk.

The personal toll of the failed scheme was exemplified by a recent segment from DR’s news programme ‘21 Søndag’ that focused on Saeed Ur Rehman, a green card holder from Pakistan. The Copenhagen Post collaborated with Rehman on a previous article on green card holders, during which time he shared with us the harrowing details of his life in Denmark. DR’s segment sadly followed Rehman to Copenhagen Airport where he boarded an outbound plane crushed by his experience in Denmark. But on the same day he departed, the statistics say that an additional six new green card holders probably arrived. Like Rehman, it is a safe bet that they did not come with an ambition to work 13 hours a day at a kiosk for piddling wages. Unfortunately, that is what is likely to happen to many of them.

It would be naive, however, to believe that every green card holder enters Denmark with high career ambitions. Some are merely using the scheme to get their foot into a country with a very attractive welfare system and use it as a springboard for moving freely throughout Europe. If that means washing dishes, so be it.
But that was never the point of the Green Card Scheme. It was meant to fit skilled foreigners with the employers who need their services. Now that we are once again discussing its failures, the time has come for politicians to stop talking about future changes and instead offer present solutions for the thousands of green card holders already in the country and to stem the tide of newcomers who are unlikely to find what they are looking for here.