An apprenticeship scheme for refugees introduced by Denmark’s government in 2016 now has 1,500 participants, the ministry for immigration has announced.
Introduced by minister Inger Støjberg’s Ministry of Immigration and Integration in 2016, the ‘basic integration education programme’ (integrationsgrunduddannelse, IGU) provides opportunities for refugees to take short-term jobs at an apprentice salary level of between 50 to 120 kroner (6.70–16 euros) per hour.
The IGU jobs can last for up to two years and refugees also take skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks.
The aim of the scheme is to “bring more refugees close to the labour market,” the ministry wrote in a press release on Friday.
The 1,500th person to sign up for the scheme has been hired for an IGU apprenticeship with plumbing firm Løsning VVS in the town of Hedensted in Jutland.
Work with the company will allow the individual to learn about the trade in Denmark as well as practice speaking Danish with colleagues, the ministry said.
Earlier this year, the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party called for IGU to be scrapped, but those demands were not met as broader negotiations over tax and immigration were eventually halted.
Minister for immigration Støjberg on Friday expressed her satisfaction with the growth of the scheme.
“I am very pleased to see that 1,500 agreements have now been signed by refugees with the IGU scheme. The IGU programme is a stepping stone to learning about the Danish labour market, and thereby also the Danish language and our Danish culture,” she said in the press statement.
“(IGU) gives a good basis for refugees to quickly become self-sufficient and contribute to society on an equal footing with everyone else. So great credit is also due to municipalities and businesses that have taken on a significant amount of the responsibility for getting the scheme up and running,” she added.
Employment levels amongst refugees and people granted family reunification in Denmark has increased from 21 percent to 38 percent since the last general election in 2015, according to the ministry press statement.
Just over one-third of IGU participants complete the programme, and around four out of ten of those who do not complete enter employment or education shortly after leaving, the ministry writes.