DEBAT - Denmark is – like the rest of Europe – currently experiencing a surge in the number of refugees seeking asylum. The number of refugees, who are granted residence, has more than tripled over the past few years.
As a society we have a common interest in - and a responsibility for - making sure that each refugee, who gets permit to reside in Denmark, can support him or herself as soon as possible and actively contribute to our society. However, refugees have found it very difficult to access the labour market. After three years in Denmark only one in four has a job or has started an education. This is clearly not satisfactory.
Today all refugees and family reunified foreigners attend a three-year integration program. The aim of this program is to acquire the prerequisites to succeed in Denmark and get a job. The program primarily focuses on learning the Danish language. Refugees may be offered job training opportunities, but in practice this depends on municipalities making use of that possibility and there are large geographical differences.
Give the refugees a job as fast as possible
We believe that employment should be in focus right from the start. An important part of integration occurs on workplaces where refugees get a natural introduction to the language and the Danish workplace culture. Companies have an interest in being part of that process.
An early effort focusing on each individual's skills, qualifications and employment opportunities can contribute to a stronger labour market attachment and a faster integration into society.
It is important that legislation supports this focus. Integration starts in the first meeting with authorities. Many refugees had a job in their home country and have experience and knowledge that can be beneficial for Danish companies. An early and competent clarification of each person's skills and level of education should set the direction for the subsequent effort. It must be ensured that refugees with special competencies in demand such as doctors, engineers, industrial engineers, etc. quickly can put their skills to use.
The decision of where to locate refugees should be based on such a clarification, and where the possibilities of finding employment are best. This is not the case today.
There are measures available which ease access to the labour market. Schemes such as job training take into account that a person cannot fully contribute from day one. It is also possible to combine Danish lessons and upgrading with being in a workplace. However, the measures should be used significantly more frequently and in a better way than today. It is vital that municipalities know and use all the measures available, and that companies experience the same service regardless of where they are located.
Flexibility is the key to improve the integration
Many municipalities may potentially improve their integration efforts. To support this, there is a need for more flexible rules, which make it possible for refugees to move if an opening on the labour market presents itself. Above all, many municipalities need to change their attitude and shift their focus in the approach to refugees more towards employment and self-reliance.
Most important for the companies who offer job or job training for refugees is motivation to work and learn new things, both in relation to skills but also in relation to the culture of the Danish labour market. Learning the Danish language also plays an important role in gaining a foothold on the labour market.
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