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Denmark: More focus on job rotation

| Text: Marie Preisler

Job rotation is a golden egg which gets people into employment and improves the skills of permanent staff, according to the Danish government. The social partners agree. But it takes time to get businesses to use the scheme.

Job rotation is a central element to the Social Democrat-led Danish government’s fight against unemployment. Experience has shown it to be one of the most effective tools for securing work experience for unemployed and newly educated people, and job rotation is highly praised by trade unions, job centres and experts alike.    

One of the latter is Henning Jørgensen, Professor at the Centre for Labour Market Research, CARMA, at Aalborg University:

“Job rotation is a splendid instrument which targets young and old and kills two birds with one stone. It combines the efforts to get people employed with efforts to increase employment,” says Henning Jørgensen.

Paid temp

Job rotation allows a business to send its workers on courses for skills development while taking on someone without a job to cover for them. That person is provided by the local job centre, which will also covers some of the cost. As a result there are few or no real costs to employers when they send workers on courses and get a temp to cover. Job rotation has also proven to be one of the most effective measures to get unemployed people back into the labour market.

“There is real evidence that job rotation works. It is a Danish invention which was being used a lot in the 1990s, when the rest of the Nordic region and the EU was inspired by our actions. We unfortunately almost allowed the system to be forgotten, even though it proved to be very effective,” the Professor says.

He is happy that job rotation is again becoming a political priority, and would like to see a more systematic gathering of evidence of how effective job rotation can be. The only recent major research was done by the Nordjylland employment region in 2012, which turned out some impressive results: more than six in ten long term unemployed people became self sufficient after taking part in job rotation.

Tricky start

The government has granted several hundred million kroner to job rotation schemes several times in recent years. In May of this year the Danish parliament granted an extra 120 million kroner (€16m) to job rotation work. More than 300 million kroner (€40m) has been set aside for job rotation in later years‘ budgets, in the emergency package and the youth package.

Despite all the economic support, businesses have been slower than expected to adopt the job rotation scheme. Private companies are particularly cautious. Some fear too much red tape.

Henning Jørgensen says the scheme is a slow starter also because businesses have been making cuts to further training during the crisis, and many job centres have had very little contact with businesses.

“Municipal job centres have had next to no contact with businesses in later years, and that is a major problem. Job rotation is dependent on close cooperation between a business and the job centre in order to find unemployed people with the right skills to fit in as job rotation temps.”

The Professor is happy that the Minister for Employment, Mette Frederiksen, has launched a thorough investigation of job centres and told them to spend more time cooperating with businesses.

How job rotation works:

Permanent employees go on further education courses, while temps take their space and makes sure the work is being done.


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