IGU: Basic Integration Education

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What is IGU?

The Basic Integration Education (IGU) is a two-year course which has been offered since 2016. The IGU combines work experience and school with the aim of improving chances of refugees to find permanent jobs in Denmark. When the programme is finished after 2 years, he/she receives a training certificate. The company receives a bonus of DKK 20,000 after the first 6 months and again once the IGU has been completed.

The IGU programme has helped many refugees to get a job, and at the same time, they earn the right to holiday pay (feriepenge) and unemployment benefit (dagpenge). In total, the income during IGU also comes to more than self-sufficiency and return benefits.

What is the purpose of an IGU course?

The idea behind the IGU is that refugees and those who arrive through family reunification with refugees get an opportunity to develop their skills and experience within a particular company, which, after the IGU process, may consider hiring the refugee in the company on a permanent basis. The refugee's chances of getting a job in the company, or a similar company, are thus improved. And the company is given the opportunity to hire an employee who already knows the company and has the skills that the company needs.

Who can start on an IGU course?

Refugees or those who have arrived through family reunification with a refugee as well as Ukrainians and Afghans under the special laws, who are:
1. between 18-40 years of age,
2. have had a residence permit in Denmark for less than ten years,
3. have not already been through an IGU programme.

What does an IGU programme entail?

An IGU programme lasts 2 years where you will:
• Complete a paid internship as an employee at a Danish company.
• Complete educational courses focused on specific areas of relevance for the company where you work.  

Teaching and work experience must be at a maximum of 37 hours and a minimum of 33 hours per week on average, whereof at least 23 weeks must be fulltime education during the 2-year programme. The education periods can be Danish language courses as well as vocational training. How to allocate the job training and teaching is entirely up to the company and the employee, who must agree on this before signing the IGU contract.

Which branches typically offer IGU programmes?

The largest group is public administration and social security, after which comes the wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, and transport and goods transport. However, almost all industries offer programmes and about 3/4 are in the private sector.

Companies can get help and advice for recruiting refugees at the local job centre, and the local VEU centre can help them to put together a relevant training plan. Job Service Denmark can also help bridge the gap between the job centre and the company. If you are interested in starting in IGU, you should contact your job centre.

What is the salary under IGU?

The salary during internship periods depends on which sector you are working in, on average 10-12,000 DKK per month before taxes. Internship periods under the programme are seen as ordinary and unsubsidised employment.

During periods of education, you are entitled to a training allowance which corresponds roughly with self-sufficiency and return benefits.

The rates are, before tax (2023):
Single without children: 6,897 DKK per month.
Single with children: 13,791 DKK per month.
Married with children: 9,652 DKK per month.

You must apply for the benefit in the municipality where you live. An application must be submitted for each month in which school education has been received. A refund may also be claimed for the cost of boarding, lodging or transport if the place of education is located far away from the place of work.

Who starts IGU programmes?

Most IGU employees are refugees, and a smaller part are family-reunified with refugees. Approximately 3/4 of the employees in the IGU course are men. The majority have stayed in Denmark for less than 2 years when they begin their IGU course. Unfortunately, quite a number of people drop out of the programme or never show up in the first place.

What are the experiences with IGU?

In general, they are very positive, but too much bureaucracy has been criticised as well as the fact that the income is too low. You can find evaluations of IGU here, including the report "IGU i praksis", published by KL, LO and DA in 2018, which also contains a lot of wonderful stories about the meeting between refugees and Danish workplaces.