Agreement on integration of immigrants includes job package plan
In December 2006, the government, the Danish municipalities and regions, and the social partners presented an agreement on integration, aimed at increasing employment levels among immigrants and their families. The new agreement is a revision of an earlier agreement; among the latest initiatives is the introduction of a ‘job package’.
On 13 December 2006, the Danish government, the municipalities and the social partners in the private labour market concluded an agreement (in Danish, 312Kb PDF) on the integration of immigrants and their families into the active labour market. The talks came about as a result of the political Welfare Agreement from June 2006 and supplement an earlier agreement from 2002 (DK0206104F).
Immigrants in labour market
In the last five years, an additional 30,000 immigrants have entered the Danish labour market. However, according to the parties of the agreement, this figure could have been higher, taking into account that the unemployment rate in December 2006 stood at just 3.9%, and an annual average of 4.5% was recorded for 2006, which is a record low. The distribution of Danish people and immigrants in employment, however, is still unbalanced. While eight in 10 Danish people are employed, only five in 10 immigrants have a job.
The aim of the new agreement is to create a broader basis for bringing more immigrants of both sexes into employment. In this regard, the results of the 2002 agreement have been thoroughly evaluated. A key element of the current agreement, as was the case in the former agreement, is the so-called ‘staircase model’, which refers to a ‘step-by-step’ workplace introduction to employment on standard terms.
Parties to agreement
Apart from the government, the parties involved in the agreement include the following organisations representing the social partners in the municipalities, the regions and the private sector, namely the:
- Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA);
- Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO);
- National Association of Local Authorities in Denmark (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL);
- Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (Akademikernes Centralorganisation, AC);
- Danish Employers’ Association for the Financial Sector (Finanssektorens Arbejdsgiverforening, FA);
- Confederation of Salaried Employees and Civil Servants in Denmark (Funktionærernes og Tjenestemændenes Fællesråd, FTF);
- Danish Association of Managers and Executives (Ledernes Hovedorganisation, Lederne);
- Danish Confederation of Employer Organisations in Agriculture (Sammenslutningen af Landbrugets Arbejdsgiverforeninger, SALA);
- Danish Regions (Danske Regioner).
Content of agreement
The government and the social partners discussed the possibilities of how to follow up on earlier initiatives and experiences of the 2002 agreement. As a result, the new agreement focuses on the following areas:
- the ‘staircase model’;
- job packages;
- a mentoring programme for individual workers;
- a network for immigrant women;
- clarification of competences;
- local cooperation between municipalities and job centres, companies, and the management and employee representatives in workplaces.
As part of the discussions, the parties to the agreement have agreed that DA, LO and KL should launch a new integration project, aimed at testing and supporting the use of the staircase model alongside different job packages. The Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs (Ministeriet for Flygtninge, Indvandrere og Integration) is offering a new language course based on ‘Danish for the labour market’ as a three-year pilot scheme, which should supplement basic Danish language skills among immigrant workers.
One of the most interesting initiatives in the agreement is the introduction of a job package, which is based on the staircase model but is more goal-specific. The job package is a combination of competences clarification of the single unemployed immigrant, Danish language lessons, support and skills development, and employment on special terms at the workplace until the person is qualified for a job on standard terms. The idea of the job package is geared more towards the most unskilled group of unemployed immigrants.
For the time being, 12 job categories have been chosen for a job package profile, which include production assistant in the manufacturing sector, truck driver, postal worker, warehouse worker in the pharmaceutical industry, slaughterhouse worker and cable worker, among others.
Apart from further strengthening the staircase model and introducing the job package, the agreement has established a special mentoring programme. A qualified employee, who could also possibly be an immigrant, will monitor a new employee on special terms as part of a workplace induction course.
Network for immigrant women
The parties to the agreement also decided to establish a network for immigrant women as a support measure. As labour market access remains limited for foreign women compared with Danish women, the aim of the network is to offer immigrant women the opportunity to extend their social network to include employed women, who can support them and encourage them to find or maintain a job. Moreover, the Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs will finance the establishment of support groups.
Role of job centres
According to the legislation, from 1 January 2007, the newly created job centres are responsible for employment efforts in the new municipalities, according to the comprehensive structural reform of the Danish counties and municipalities. The integration effort is the responsibility of the municipalities, while the job centres are responsible for practical details in this regard.
Carsten Jørgensen, FAOS