The Danish Jobrotation model: A path to an inclusive labour market

by Prof David Etherington

Since 2020 a number of studies and reports[1] have been produced jointly between Staffordshire University and Citizens Advice North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent (CANSS) on poverty in Stoke on Trent highlighting the following challenges to an inclusive employment system. This includes:

  • Underfunding of benefits and employment support – the inadequate level of benefits (including sick pay) is a key driver of poverty.
  • The focus on conditionality rather than employment and skills support which is reinforcing the low pay low skills cycle.
  • Austerity has negatively impacted on local government and health services which are vital element of employment support.
  • The lack of integration of employment and skills.

Given the relative success of Jobretention models throughout Europe there are calls for such a scheme to be rolled out in the UK. In 2023 I undertook a research visit ( funded by QR Talent fund) to Denmark interviewing experts and labour market policy actors on the Danish labour market model and in particular the jobrotation initiative. The visit made contact with a consultancy firm which had undertaken evaluation of jobrotation on behalf of the Danish Government. This was a follow on from an earlier research visit (in 2022) which was focused on mapping the Danish model and included interviews with a variety   market actors. Key features of the Danish model include:

Denmark has a more sustainable social protection system meaning that benefits are at a level which provides a more effective cushion against poverty. Unemployment benefit rates are 90% of previous earnings up to a maximum of 2,527 Euros a month compared with around 500 Euros a month for Universal Credit which is 17% of average wages. Affordable childcare is crucial in relation addressing labour market inequalities. Denmark’s investment in childcare is one of the highest in the EU and still maintained after the economic crisis broke out. Vocational training policy as with other key economic social policies is decided via social dialogue between the Government, Labour Market Institutions and the trade unions.

Jobrotation (JR) provides a model that emphasises upskilling workers and unemployed and social dialogue involving the representation of disadvantaged groups such as trade unions and community organisations in policy. The initiative was developed and rolled out via major labour market reforms in the early 1990s. Its success caught on and became a major EU programme funded under EQUAL and ADAPT. JR is still promoted by the Danish Government and in particular is seen by the trade unions as a way of upskilling low skilled workers and unemployed people.

Work on JR in collaboration with North Staffs and Stoke on Trent Citizens Advice, North Staffs TUC and the Employment Related Services Association has pointed to the relevance and application of the Danish model of job retention and rotation as a vehicle for developing an inclusive labour market both at the national level and in Stoke on Trent.

Information from interviews highlighted some important outcomes from JR:

1) JR meets three separate but inter-related needs of local economies: tackling unemployment, addressing skills shortages, encouraging business development through staff training and learning and the promotion of Lifelong Learning.

(2) JR helps disadvantaged labour market groups by providing a period of paid work placement, along with the opportunity to improve their vocational skills and qualifications.

(3) Employers reap the benefits of enhanced training for existing employees, and the enhanced capabilities of future employees, improving their retention, reducing turnover and saving costs to their business. We know that it’s difficult to engage employers/businesses in programmes, largely due to the number and complexity of programmes. The JR model is effective and efficient in reaching its target groups and reduces the potential for programme duplication and employers being approached by multiple providers.

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[1] Etherington D Telford L and Jones M and Harris S and Hubbard S (2022) The Pending Poverty Catastrophe in Stoke on Trent: How benefit cuts and the cost of living crisis impacts on the poor, Staffs University/(Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent),

Etherington D and Jones M and Harris S and Hubbard S (2021) ‘Powering up’ or reducing inequalities? Assessing the impact of benefit cuts and withdrawal of employment support(furlough) on Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire University/ Citizens Advice North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent

Etherington D and Jones M and Harris S and Hubbard S (2021) Post-Covid Crisis and its impact on poverty and destitution in Stoke-on Trent, Staffs University/ Citizens Advice North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent) (April 2021)

 Etherington D (2020) A disappearing safety net: post Covid-19 crisis and its impact on poverty and disadvantage in Stoke on Trent, Report to Stoke-on-Trent Hardship Commission (May 2020)