Up To 4,000 Foreign Workers Needed Next Year - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Up To 4,000 Foreign Workers Needed Next Year

Published January 13, 2017

Photos by
Slandsvi/Wikimedia Commons

Domestic workers decreased last year, and Business Iceland predicts that if this trend continues, anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 foreign workers will be needed in Iceland next year.

According to a new assessment from Business Iceland, there are a number of factors that have led to this situation. One of them is reportedly that the number of Icelanders on disability has increased by about 22% this year.

However, there are other aspects at play.

For example, tourism is a rapidly expanding industry in Iceland, and Arion Bank reported last year that there are not enough Icelanders to fill all the jobs opening up in this sector. As such, they estimated that “thousands” of foreign workers will be needed in the tourism industry.

In addition, former Business Iceland CEO and current Minister of Social Affairs Þorsteinn Víglundsson pointed out earlier this year that Iceland is effectively changing into an immigrant nation, due to shifting demographics.

This change is due, he said, primarily to Icelanders leaving the job market as they get older, making it necessary for immigrants to fill vacant jobs in order to keep the economy afloat.

In fact, Icelanders are moving out of the country in increasing numbers as the remaining population gets older. About 10% of Icelanders are over the age of 70, and that number is projected to reach 20% by 2050.

“This means that we will need to move people into the country in a big way, compared to the way we’ve been doing it,” Þorsteinn said. “It is quite clear that if we’re moving in some two or three thousand people a year, this percentage [of immigrants] will change very fast. It could be at 15% by 2030. I think we should look positively at how we deal with this. How we can make it easier for people who move here to get settled in. We need to develop our immigration policies to deal with this reality.”

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