Every other immigrant from the Third World lacks the qualifications for even the most menial jobs on the organised Danish labour market, a new study finds. Daily newspaper Politiken reported on Monday that an unreleased study from the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, a privately funded social and economic research institution, revealed that immigrants were worse off than previously thought. 'The new figures indicate that up to half the group will have problems handling a job corresponding to the minimum wage of unskilled labourers,' said the unit's research chief Torben Tranæs. 'If you look at the immigrant population, lack of qualifications will be an enormous problem.' The news came only days after the government agreed with ally Danish People's Party and opposition Social Democrats on concrete integration goals for immigrants. Social democratic ally the Radical Liberals abandoned negotiations in protest over benefit cuts. The agreement included an investment of DKK 580 million in finding jobs for 10,000 more immigrants. The central elements of the plan are a so-called integration contract, which ensures that immigrants who do not make an active effort to learn Danish and find employment can have financial benefits withdrawn. Moreover, the plan would punish parents of youngsters who show criminal tendencies by removing child benefit payments. But chairman of a social and labour market committee for the National Organisation of Local Governments, Vagn Ry Nielsen, said he agreed with Tranæs that immigrants might turn out to lack the qualifications to live up to the government's demands. 'Most of them haven't got the qualifications that the labour market is looking for,' he said. 'And they're competing with 150,000 more on the fringes of the labour market.'
Tranæs said previous studies confirmed that immigrants needed qualifications, not motivation, to find work, as many of them preferred low-income jobs to social benefit payments. 'Up to 40 percent work, even if they gain nothing from it economically. It indicates a strong wish for integration. For Danes, the corresponding figures are 10-12 percent. If immigrants had the same attitude, a lot fewer would be employed.' Social Democratic integration spokesman Anne-Marie Meldgaard defended the integration agreement by pointing out that benefit recipients had time to prepare for the changes. 'They have two years to get the qualifications,' she said. 'And you don't need a lot of training to pick strawberries or wash dishes. If you can't do that, it's because you don't want to.' Immigration-sceptic Danish People's Party was pleased that immigrants would be given concrete goals and consequences. 'We are satisfied that we had our two main demands met. Namely that it will have consequences in the form of deportation, and that we'll implement a contract immigrants will have to draw up with society, so it's not just a smorgasbord of public assistance,' said People's Party immigration spokesman Peter Skaarup.