More immigrants employed in public sector eldercare than ethnic Danes

Rise in training numbers behind general increase

Jens voted Konservative all his life … until Dansk Folkeparti came into being. He had imagined a happy retirement in his village in mid-Jutland.

Unmarried, he presumed he’d spend his final days in the same kind of public sector care his mother enjoyed when she became too much for him to handle: mostly young Danish students earning extra money between their studies.

He never figured he’d end up with carers who weren’t ethnically Danish, with their funny accents, distaste for rugbrød and strange customs.

But that’s the changing face of Denmark for you!

Ethnic Danes in the minority
In recent years, municipal eldercare has got serious. Its workers today all have vocational training, and SOSU C, one of the country’s largest colleges training social and health service helpers, reports it is now educating more non-ethnic Danes than ethnic Danes in the field.

This is backed up by the number of full-time employees hired in the sector between 2016 and 2017, when 1,050 with non-western backgrounds were taken on compared to 925 ethnic Danes, according to Momentum magazine.

The figures show that 13 percent of the people employed in this sector are now non-ethnic Danes.

Welcome boost, but language skills important!
Torben Klitmøller Hollmann, the sector manager at the Fag og Arbejde (FOA) trade union, applauds the development. With the elderly population set to soar, it is a growing sector, he tells Momentum.

The increase in non-western immigrants and their descendants attending the likes of SOSU C is good news according to Hollmann, as the make-up of the staff should reflect society as there are “more and more elderly people who do not have a western background”.

However, Frederik Thuesen, a researcher at Vive, cautioned “it was extremely important that the schools make sure the students have the required language skills and can understand the cultural codes among the ethnic Danish elderly”.

On the other hand, an added bonus might be the fact that in many immigrant cultures, looking after the elderly has a higher status than it does in Denmark, as interviews with two students training to be social and health service helpers in a story on DR’s TV Avisen seemed to bear out.

One of them, 32-year-old Naima Amrissani, who is in her second year of training as a social and health service assistent in Brøndby, came to Denmark from Morocco five years ago. She was surprised to see how many elderly Danes lived alone and how lonely some of them felt. “In my culture, it is young people who look after the elderly until they die,” she said. “I said to myself ‘why should I not look after them when I can?”.