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Karsten Dybvad: 2018 is full of potential - let’s not waste it

2018 can become the year in which Denmark - and above all Danish companies - set an important record. At the Confederation of Danish Industry, we expect to see the number of jobs reach the highest level ever this year, bringing us ahead of the current record from 2008.

Meanwhile, Denmark is also likely to reach the highest level of economic growth in ten years. A total of 160,000 jobs have been created since 2013, and at DI, we expect that the number will increase by a further 30,000-40,000 in the coming year. Needless to say, the prospects look good. Danish companies are doing well, bringing in new orders every day and thereby creating the growth and prosperity that benefits society as a whole.

However - and it is a big “however”: Companies cannot create new jobs without talented hands and heads to fill them. It is thus worrying that six out of ten executives in DI’s business panel report that the labour shortage poses a threat to their company and that nearly four out of ten companies that have attempted to recruit have been forced to give the search up.

In other words, we are entering a year with plenty of great opportunities for companies and for Denmark – if we are capable of taking advantage of them, that is. It will require that our politicians take seriously the issue of labour shortage, and that they come together to find effective solutions to the danger that companies are warning us of so clearly.

Companies are lacking employees at all levels - unskilled, skilled and highly-educated. In step with the recent years of job creation, unemployment has fallen to a very low level. There are, however, still those who are unemployed and on welfare benefits whom we must do all that we can to get into work. This applies not least to the immigrants and descendants who remain outside the job market. Here, there is a need for more individuals - particularly those under 30 - to be assessed as job ready and thereby met with an expectation that they can and must contribute. Far better integration initiatives that focus on jobs will ensure more employees for companies - while simultaneously helping to solve the social problems caused by inadequate integration.

When it comes to the lack of skilled workers, the most recent tripartite agreement has improved the opportunities for Danish workers to undertake further education and upskilling. We must take advantage of this - not least in relation to helping unskilled workers become skilled in the fields where companies are lacking. Here, companies carry a big part of the responsibility to ensure apprenticeships and opportunities for both young and experienced workers who wish to become skilled. We need them! But the shortage of skilled workers is so critical that we cannot solve the problem with education and upskilling alone. We will also need help from abroad. It is therefore important that politicians reverse regrettable developments in recent years that have made it more difficult for talented, qualified workers outside Europe to come to Denmark.

Denmark is not the only country affected by labour shortage. The countries around us also face major demographic challenges with a rising life expectancy and shrinking working-age population. The competition to attract talented workers is intensifying. If Danish companies are really to take advantage of the opportunities that the coming year brings, it is important that a broad majority of politicians recognises the fierce competition for skilled workers that Denmark is up against. And, above all, that they come together to take action.

When it comes to the lack of skilled workers, the most recent tripartite agreement has improved the opportunities for Danish workers to undertake further education and upskilling.

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PUBLISHED: 1/4/2018 LAST MODIFIED: 1/4/2018