Minister for immigration and integration Inger Støjberg says she wants the IGU apprenticeship scheme for refugees to continue beyond 2019, when it is currently set to expire.
Støjberg also said she wants to expand the scheme and use it to increase the employment rates of refugees and others entering Denmark via family reunification, Jyllands-Posten reports.
The minister’s comments set her in opposition to the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) with regard to IGU, which was launched by Støjberg’s ministry in 2016.
DF has said the apprenticeship scheme should be scrapped as it does not fit with the party’s stated desire to return refugees to origin countries as soon as conditions allow.
“Our clear position is that IGU should continue. And perhaps we should actually look at whether more people can be encompassed by it,” she told Jyllands-Posten.
People on the IGU (integrationsgrunduddannelse) scheme are paid a salary of 50 to 120 kroner (€6.70 to €16) an hour for up to two years. The refugees also take part in skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks.
Refugees and people with residency via family reunification who are between the ages of 18 and 40 and have lived in Denmark for less than five years are eligible.
1,616 such programmes are currently active in municipalities across Denmark at a total of 999 different companies. The IGU scheme is currently scheduled to expire next summer.
According to a survey carried out by Rambøll on behalf of the Ministry of Immigration and Integration, 52 percent of companies involved in the programme said they were “highly” or “very highly” satisfied with it.
The government offered to scrap the programme in December 2017 during negotiations over a new tax deal with DF, Jyllands-Posten writes, citing a leaked document seen by the newspaper.
But no deal for tax reform was reached at the time, with changes to asylum rules thereby also shelved.
The government will now negotiate an extension of the tripartite agreement it entered into with businesses and union representatives in 2016, providing for the programme.
“Our very clear basis for this is that more people will be encompassed – not fewer,” Støjberg said.
The Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA) and Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) have both praised the programme, but DF remain strongly opposed.
DF’s spokesperson for immigration Martin Henriksen told Jyllands-Posten called Støjberg’s position “completely hopeless flipflopping” over the scheme.