Increasing shortage of Eastern European seasonal workers in Denmark

Danish agriculture will face a shortage of staff in the coming years because fewer and fewer Eastern Europeans want to do seasonal work. Shortages of several thousand employees are expected in a few years' time. In fact, the foreign labor influx curve has flattened more than previously anticipated.

Figures from Statistics Denmark and show that 'Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' account for 21 percent of full-time employment. More than half of the foreign agricultural workforce comes from Eastern Europe. More than half of these (57%) come from Eastern European EU countries, and 38 percent come from non-EU countries.

In the latest survey, Romanian workers made up the second largest group of foreign workers in Danish agriculture, after Ukrainians, who rank first. According to the Danish Labor Market and Recruitment Agency, 3,621 Romanians were working in agriculture, forestry and fishing in June 2020, while the number of Ukrainians was 4,837. These numbers may vary by season.

Several EU countries are doing better economically – so much so that the workforce is increasingly moving away from Denmark and the agricultural industry, which is heavily dependent on foreigners. Foreign labor has attracted large parts of Danish growth, the same statement shows. The inflow of the foreign labor force in Denmark averages 3.8 percent, while in agriculture it is 5.8 percent.

The Danish researchers say that without a foreign labor force, the country would not have experienced such rapid growth in the Danish economy. Especially in times of revival, where it is difficult to attract Danish workers. And the fear is that it will get even more difficult as countries like Poland and Ukraine try to get seasonal agricultural workers to work domestically.

“International workers are of great importance to Danish agriculture, not to mention the Danish economy. That is why it is important that we continue to have attractive jobs bieden in Danish agriculture,” says Morten Holm Østergaard of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.

“There are really a lot of farmers who urgently need staff. With the absent interns last winter, many farmers gave up. They call and complain, and some are almost desperate, that's how Personnel Consultant Frida Sollingvraa described the situation.