A blessing in disguise

It’s all about making them feel welcomed


It is slowly dawning on the political elite that refugees are on the move and heading in our direction.

As refugees increasingly flee
In the early days, refugees came spontaneously and in relatively small numbers. Over the last 60 years, they came from Hungary, Poland, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Palestine, Vietnam, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have all been integrated – and even assimilated. Some even moved on to the likes of Britain or the USA.

With the unfortunate situation in Syria and Islamic State making trouble all over the Middle East, coupled with the slow development and fast growing populations of Africa, we can expect a fast inflow of refugees – political or economic – into the EU. The tragedies in the Mediterranean waters cannot be ignored, and the 28 EU countries will have to cope with it. It cannot be stopped – desperate as they are, there are no safe havens to send them back to for years to come.

A wasted resource
Given the demographic development across most of Europe where populations are dwindling, one would expect the inflow of refugees to be more than welcome. Not so. The policy has been more to lock the refugees away and keep them inactive and hope the problem will pass and they will go away.
Given that 20,000 to 50,000 refugees come to Denmark every year, the mood of the population is changing. If the refugees are to be treated with welfare state standards, they have to be integrated, which means they have to make their living by working.

Get them working

Now it’s not like the refugees haven’t wanted that, but labour union policy has excluded them from the job market out of fear they would undermine standards and steal jobs away from Danes.

It’s interesting to note that the increasing numbers of refugees is helping to draw attention to the 800,000 citizens who in some way or form receiving welfare support.

The politicians are overbidding each other with slogans such as “Work is good” and “It should be economically attractive to work” – which is also good news for the refugees. It means more part-time jobs, whether it is ten hours per week, nyttejob (societally-beneficial jobs for your welfare), flexitime jobs and public support pay. Match the employers’ needs with the worker’s capacity and forget about the industrial standard 9-5.

A future of flexicurity
The Economist this week published a survey on the number of part-time workers across different countries. In the Netherlands, 80 percent of women had part-time jobs and 30 percent of men. In Denmark it was more like 35 and 25 percent.
In the future we will see many more do this as working hours and skills fit in with employers’ needs. They want stable, engaged and skilled hands, but not necessarily full-time or standard hours. Only then will the Danish labour market be able to use the term flexicurity and mean it.

So let’s welcome the refugees. Let’s give them our blessing and we will all be living in an even better country.