Politics and Analysis

We must extend integration training


The Basic Integration Training Programme (IGU) has been a resounding success. We must now extend the scheme to help integrate even more refugees into the Danish labour market.

By Jannik Bay, Head of Integration and Qualifications, the Confederation of Danish Employers.

The 2016 tripartite agreement on integration has been a notable success. At the beginning of 2015, approximately 18% of the refugee population had jobs. In 2023, the figure has risen to over 50%. One reason for the improvement is the IGU, which was a major element of the last tripartite agreement.

Employers and unions worked together to develop the IGU and ensure it made use of the best available integration policy tools, e.g. regular terms and conditions of employment, language training and upskilling plans.

The programme has been a resounding success, with almost 3,000 refugees participating in the programme. This achievement is particularly notable given the global pandemic and multiple national lockdowns.

More can be done

However, despite its proven track record, the programme has been underutilised because it has failed to keep up with the times and wider social developments.

At present, only refugees under 40 who have lived in Denmark for less than a decade are eligible to participate. The Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) would like more people to benefit from the IGU, and we were delighted when the government proposed to extend the programme. It is encouraging that the Reform Commission has also recently recommended a new, extended version.

The IGU is one of the best ways of promoting greater integration in the labour market. For that reason, DA believes that everyone who needs integration services should have access to it. After all, why should an immigrant who has lived in Denmark for a long time without finding work not be able to join the IGU? Why should a 41-year-old newly arrived refugee be unable to take the programme when a 39-year-old can? It simply makes no sense.

In light of this, both the government’s and the reform commission’s proposals to expand IGU are absolutely correct. We need to ensure that even more refugees and immigrants are able to participate in the world of work. At a time when companies are facing staff shortages, especially of skilled workers, the IGU has the potential to be a game-changer. The DA will, of course, give it our full support.

Opinion piece published in Børsen on 13 June 2023.

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