9 May 2014

Globalisation of the labour market for Danish Masters and PhDs

Report by Nana Wesley Hansen, Steen Erik Navrbjerg og Anna Paarup Kylling.

In moderate numbers, more highly skilled labour is coming to Denmark, highly skilled jobs are continually being offshored, and increasing numbers of Danish academics travel abroad for longer or shorter periods of time in relation to their career. This report is about the effect of these aspects of globalisation on wages and working conditions on a large group of Masters and PhDs. The group includes people with educational background within both natural science and humanities, and they are employed within both the private and the public sector.

The report presents three analyses. First, the report maps the development in numbers of foreign highly skilled workers arriving to Denmark, and the offshoring of high skilled jobs from Denmark. Second, the report presents a qualitative analysis of the mechanisms connected to highly skilled labour mobility and offshoring of highly skilled jobs in eight larger companies within three sectors – namely, the IT and telecommunications sector, the medico and biotech sector and the university sector. Finally, the report offers an analysis of the Danish mobile Masters and PhDs who go abroad for longer periods of time. This analysis also looks at the effect of going abroad on wages and employment for the Masters and PhDs upon returning to Denmark.

The analyses show that the moving of jobs and moving of workforce is closely connected. The moving of knowledge, tasks and jobs across countries during offshoring involves both control and sharing of knowledge. This requires an increased worker mobility, and an increasing need for skills from foreign labour to national labour markets.

Accordingly, masters and PhDs move around worldwide with their work, as recruited labour or in search of work. This development can also be seen for the group of Danish masters. However, the analysis show, that going abroad has none or a negative effect for the Masters and PhDs once returned to Denmark. For young graduates it has a surprisingly negative effect on the wage level. When singling out the graduates that were unemployed when leaving Denmark, a negative effect can also be detected on their employment tendency, as well as their wage level.

The project was financed by DM - The Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, and was conducted during the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014.