Eritrea is one of the poorest, most closed and least-developed countries in the world, with little internet access and no universities. Against this background, it would seem an impossible task to enter the Danish labour market. But their general discipline, reliability and calm manner have made Eritreans popular among Danish employers.
Source: European Commission
Employment figures for refugees who have been in Denmark for five years are both surprising and positive.
During the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ five years ago, the vast majority of those who came to Europe were from Syria. The same was true of the 10 000 people granted asylum in Denmark at the time: more than half were Syrian. There was a big focus in Danish media on this Syrian group, and almost no mention of the second largest group: Eritreans.
So, how did those refugees fare?
The Danish National Center for Integration has found that many of the people who were granted asylum in 2015 are now working in unsubsidised jobs. Syrians have performed better than previous cohorts of refugees in this respect, with a total work rate of 50% after five years.
The clear top scorers in employment, however, are Eritrean men. Only five years after arrival they are employed to almost the same extent as Danish women, at 71%. Danish women themselves make up one of the most active labour market participant groups in the world (72%). This is very impressive when one considers the starting point of refugees from Eritrea and could be highlighted as a fantastic success story, but the Danish Minister of Integration has remained silent.
An analysis on REFUGEES.dk looks more deeply into the issue and the context of these numbers, including with a special profile on Eritrean refugees. Eritrea is one of the poorest, most closed and least-developed countries in the world, with little internet access and no universities. Against this background, it would seem an impossible task to enter the Danish labour market. But their general discipline, reliability and calm manner have made Eritreans popular among Danish employers. Additionally their Christian faith has made it easier for them than for the predominantly Muslim Syrians to join social life in Denmark.
Educational background is another important factor when it comes to the labour market, and both Syrians and Eritreans tend to have very low education levels from their home countries. They have therefore mainly found unskilled jobs in Denmark, following the strategy of the Danish government. Neighbouring countries Sweden and Norway, though, focus much more on language skills and education for refugees, which has proven a better strategy in the longer term.