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From hardly any to 270 applications in just three weeks

A New York Times article about labour shortage in Denmark has had a ripple effect and put a machinery factory in northern Jutland on the world map. Sjørring Maskinfabrik has so far received 270 foreign applications and is moving forward in the hiring process with applicants from Turkey, Croatia and Italy.
 
Two welders at work manufacturing parts for Volvo at Sjørring Maskinfabrik. Photo: Sjørring Maskinfabrik.

Publiceret: 29.03.2017
Af Laura Flader mail

On Tuesday, 28 February, job applications started pouring in at Sjørring Maskinfabrik A/S, a machinery manufacturer in northern Jutland, which had, until then, unsuccessfully been attempting to recruit welders to their factory.
 
“We thought, what’s going on? We were flooded with applications - on the first day alone, we received nearly 100 applications in all kinds of different languages,” says Peter Enevoldsen, chief financial officer at Sjørring Maskinfabrik.

It turned out that a New York Times article about Danish companies’ shortage of skilled labour had been published that day.

Italian, Croatian, German and Turkish media, among others, had subsequently decided to reprint large parts of the article. This inspired foreign applicants to apply for jobs at Sjørring Maskinfabrik, which had been used as a case study in the American article.

“We’re now up to 270 applications in total, and they’re still coming in. If we could get 8-10 qualified applicants out of all this activity, we would hire them immediately,” says Peter Enevoldsen.

He has also noted that the company has started to receive more applications from Danes, a development he believes is the result of social media, TV features and articles in local newspapers.

See also: Copenhagen get spouses for foreign nationals into work

Foreign labour already a natural part of the company

The company is now busy sorting all the applications, many of which are written in local languages and do not solely come from welders. 

“Some of the foreign applicants have the skills we need - but the majority by far do not. We need qualified workers,” says Peter Enevoldsen.

Sjørring Maskinfabrik is one of Europe’s leading sub-suppliers of loader buckets, and the company’s focus on this niche is a conscious strategy on the part of the management.

“It’s a niche in which we set ourselves apart and are extremely strong. Our clients are primarily large global manufacturers of construction machinery and their distributors. We’ve just landed a major Nordic client as well as several clients in Germany and Belgium, while we also have a strategic partnership with two global groups in the pipeline. It’s this growth, among other things, that contributes to our need for more labour,” says Klaus Kalstrup, CEO, Sjørring Maskinfabrik.

Until now, Sjørring Maskinfabrik has collected further information from four of the foreign applicants, two of whom come from Italy, one from Turkey and one from Croatia. Out of the company’s 270 employees in total, there are currently about 40 who come from abroad.

See also: Smart foreigners queued for Danish jobs

DI: Keep opportunities for hiring talented foreigners

At the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), the lack of skilled labour is well-known.

“Many companies are currently experiencing progress and want to hire more employees, but it’s often difficult to find the qualified employees that are required. This is due to the fact that in several fields, there are very few unemployed workers left. This is particularly the case for electricians, metalsmiths and mechanics,” says Steen Nielsen, Director, DI.

More than every third member at DI has had to abandon an attempt to fill a vacancy in 2016. This was established in DI's annual Local Business Climate Survey, among other things.

As joblessness decreases and employment rises, the problem will only exacerbate. According to Steen Nielsen, the fact that companies are hiring foreigners to fill their vacancies is therefore positive.

“We must continue getting more unemployed individuals into work and, ideally, creating jobs for some of those who are currently outside the job market. We should also strive to hold on to older employees for a bit longer instead of them retiring early. And finally, we must maintain the opportunities for bringing talented foreign employees to Denmark. Many companies wouldn’t be able to retain their activities in Denmark if it weren’t for their foreign employees,” says Steen Nielsen.

See also: Copehagen is the best city in Scandinavia for expats

On the first day alone, we received nearly 100 applications in all kinds of different languages.
PETER ENEVOLDSEN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER AT SJØRRING MASKINFABRIK
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PUBLISHED: 3/29/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 3/30/2017