"The biggest threat to growth is not a lack of orders but a lack of hands and minds," said Lars-Peter Søbye, Chairman of the Confederation of Danish Industry and CEO at COWI.

Video: Ida Bechtle
DI Business News

CEO at COWI: “Denmark must be better at selling itself to foreign talents”

Denmark’s economy is growing, but there is potential for much more. The biggest challenge is the labour shortage, and business and politicians must be better at working together to export Denmark’s qualities, says Lars-Peter Søbye, Chairman of the Confederation of Danish Industry and CEO at COWI.

“At a time when public sentiment and populism dominate the political agenda and people wage shouting matches on social media, it’s more important than ever that we keep a cool head and that we as business leaders keep the conversation alive. We must both listen and offer considered opinions to ensure that we make sounder decisions that benefit both welfare and growth.”

That was the message from DI’s chairman and CEO at COWI, Lars-Peter Søbye, in his opening speech at the DI Business Summit.

While expressing concern about the increasingly protectionist leanings of world leaders, he also emphasised that – from a Danish perspective – there is much to celebrate these days.

“We currently find ourselves in a situation where we have almost no unemployment in Denmark. We have more than 2.7 million employees at work in the Danish labour market – the highest rate yet. And the biggest threat to growth is not a lack of orders but a lack of hands and minds. This is an extremely strong starting point. But it is necessary that we take action now in order to ensure a strong future,” said Lars-Peter Søbye at the summit’s beginning.

See also: Løkke and Frederiksen: The road to Denmark must be easier for foreign specialists

Make the most of everyone

The chairman took the stage again for an interview with moderator Cecilie Beck towards the end of the summit. Here, he was asked to summarise his impressions from the day’s event.

“I was particularly struck by HRH Crown Prince Frederik’s speech. He said that talent exists in all people at all companies in all industries. That point has been reiterated by several business leaders and politicians here today. We need to be better at making the most of everyone. And here, all of us – businesses, politicians, public authorities and individuals – have a big responsibility,” said Lars-Peter Søbye.

See also: Companies, make yourselves hot: Happy employees are good for the bottom line

Talent and branding strategy needed

He also noted that politicians and business should work together to attract and retain foreign talent.

“We need an explicit talent strategy that offers people attractive career opportunities. We know that there is too little knowledge of Denmark abroad, and it is therefore necessary that we become better at showing off Denmark’s strengths, both at home and abroad.

We can pride ourselves on the proximity we have between leaders and employees, our work-life balance and the fact that Denmark is a safe, clean and attractive country with a good welfare system. We need to make this more widely known,” said Lars-Peter Søbye.

See also: Unfilled jobs mean more pressure on Danish employees

Steen Nielsen

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