IGU: Basic Integration Training Programme

See a small video about IGU her, in Arabic / English / Farsi / Somali / Tigrigna (Danish version here)

What is IGU?

The Basic Integration Training Programme (IGU) is a two-year course which has been offered since 1st July 2016. The IGU is a complement to work experience and wage subsidised positions and aims to improve the chances of refugees to find permanent jobs in Denmark. When the employee is finished after 2 years, he receives a training certificate. The company receives a bonus of DKK 20,000 after the first 6 months of the course and again once the IGU has been completed.

The relatively newly-created IGU programmes for refugees are given some credit for the fact that more refugees get into work or are assessed ‘ready to work’ and qualified for the Danish labour market. In 2018, there are 1,500 recorded programmes, and both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Integration and the Danish Refugee Council deem it to be a success. The Danish Refugee Council’s own experience shows that many companies have become good at assuming the social responsibility entailed in hiring refugees under the aegis of IGU and, subsequently, also in ordinary paid work.

What is the purpose of an IGU course?

The idea behind the IGU is that refugees and those who arrive through family reunification will have the 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. Through an IGU course, the refugee gets the skills and experience that the company is looking for in an employee. 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?

IGU is an option for refugees or those who have arrived through family reunification who are:
1. Between 18 - 40 years of age
2. Who have had a residence permit in Denmark for less than five years
3. Have not already been through an IGU programme

Read more about the rules here (in Danish).

What does an IGU programme entail?

An IGU programme lasts 2 years and you can expect to:
1. Complete a paid work-experience placement as an employee at a Danish company
2. Complete a course with teaching focused on specific areas of relevance for the company where you are in work experience.  

How much teaching and how much work experience?

Teaching and work experience must be at a maximum of 37 hours and a minimum of 32 hours per week on average. There must be 7 teaching hours per week on average for the entire period of the programme, but the matter of allocating the work experience and teaching is entirely up to the company and employee. The two parties must agree on this before signing the IGU contract. For example, there may be periods where teaching dominates and periods where work experience fills the majority of the time. Read more here (in Danish).

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 average hourly earnings during the periods of internship are between 57 and 86 KR, lowest for health care (typically public jobs) and highest for construction and plant work (typically private companies). The salary follows the current basic vocational training (EGU) wage rates. Recruitment on a traineeship is treated as ordinary and unsubsidised employment.

In periods of school education, there is a right to receive a training allowance which corresponds roughly with integration benefit.

The rates are thus (2018):
Breadwinner with the right to additional family allowances: 12,504 KR per month.
Breadwinner without entitlement to additional family allowances: 8,751 KR per month.
Other: 6,253 KR per month.

You must apply for aid 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 to the places in the country where the place of education is located far away from the place of work. KL’s payment form for refunds can be found here. Read more about application for compensation and wage level agreements here.

Who starts IGU programmes?

85% of IGU employees in February 2018 were refugees, while 12% of the employees were family-reunified with refugees. Approximately 3/4 of the employees in the IGU course are men. Most have stayed in Denmark for less than 2 years when they begin their IGU course. Unfortunately, one in every three drops out of the programme or never meets up in the first place.

The extent to which IGU is used in municipalities varies greatly. For example, the municipality of Tårnby seldom draws on the offer for refugees, but focuses more on work experience instead. In 2017, the explanation for this was that IGU keeps people at a lower level of income for a longer period of time, whereas work experience has a shorter span, with the aim of getting into regular employment more quickly. Conversely, the municipality of Frederiksberg is one of the municipalities which makes most use of IGU courses and believes that it equips them better for the labour market and shorten the path to regular paid work.

An explanation may also be that companies back in 2017 pointed out the fact that there was a lot of paperwork associated with hiring a refugee in IGU and that this was a challenge if the employee spoke and understood only very little Danish.

Why do many drop out of IGU?

The fact that many refugees or those reunified with refugees end up dropping out, or never beginning their IGU programme, may be due to the fact that single parents in particular, receive a lower rate of income while they are in IGU than if they had been on integration benefit. In such cases, the salary is too low and, in addition, transport costs may be added in connection with the training part of IGU. This may mean that the family cannot get by on the income available, or that the salary is so low that those employed in IGU lose the motivation for the work. For example, in July 2018, Ritzau was able to report that there have been examples where a refugee in the IGU in the public received DKK 7,632 in salary per month – for comparison, a single breadwinner receives 8,653 kr. in integration benefit per month, and with the right to extra children’s allowances you can get 12.364 kr.

This is one of the reasons why Jammerbugt municipality has begun to call for more pay for IGU employees, so that the salary is at least equal to what you get on integration benefit. However, many municipalities and companies still do not follow this example, creating a dead end for those refugees who actually want to get a foot in the door of the Danish labour market, but at the same time have to be able to support their families.

What is the experience with IGU?

In general, they are very positive, but too much bureaucracy was pointed out at the outset and the fact that the income can be too low. Read the report "Igu in practice", WHICH KL, LO and DA published in 2018, and which also contains a lot of wonderful stories about the meeting between refugees and Danish workplaces.