This Week’s Editorial: Migrants needed

Businesses are asking for more international schools. Companies are going the extra mile for their foreign workers. Most new jobs in Denmark are going to foreigners. Danish bosses increasingly prefer to look abroad for new talent. Business needs talent, and skilled foreigners play a crucial role.

These are just some of the headlines from our archive so far this year, and they all illustrate the professional climate in Denmark. The government growth scenario is almost non-existent. It predicts growth of 20 billion kroner moving towards 2020, but with inflation factored in, this is very modest. More dynamism is needed.

Tax breaks not enough
The special tax provision available offering a 31.6 percent rate over five years to those earning more than 60,000 kroner per month is increasingly being used to attract researchers (and football players). It does a lot but not enough.

More than 6,000 individuals are now using this favourable system compared to the normal tax regime, which normally claims more than 50 percent of earnings, although there is a deduction for pension contributions and interest payments.

More artisans needed
The need for skilled labour is not being met by this. The threshold has to be lowered – maybe down to 30,000 kroner per month and maybe for a shorter period – to attract more candidates and to compensate for the inconvenience of uprooting, moving and resettling etc. It’s certainly nice to have researchers with international skills who can go anywhere and be integrated into the international corporation’s workforce.

What is needed now is the high-end of the artisan workforce: nurses, carpenters, electricians, builders – all of whom can increase productivity in the service industry and establish small and medium-size businesses. The government ought to look into removing a lot of the red tape that makes the establishment of a business so bureaucratic and risky. And they also need to address the difficulties faced by startups raising funds as banks tend to ask for collateral and track records.

Too complacent
It is characteristic that small reliable service enterprises are difficult to find and very expensive to employ. There is simply not enough competition. An example is the ongoing wrestle between Uber and the taxi companies whose only defence is the old saying ‘Competition is good – monopoly is better’.

In the past, the whole service system was built on licences, carpenters, butchers, tailors etc. When that was liberalised a century ago, the modern Denmark was born. Now it’s time to repeat that process by giving migrants practical access to open businesses when they are skilled and energetic to do so.

Surveys have disclosed that Danish youths are reluctant to start up a business and instead want the safety of employment. They are becoming complacent that society will take care of them from cradle to urn.

It is not unlikely that a solid intake of skilled migrant labour could be a blessing – let us not disguise it but welcome it.