When Peter Enevoldsen won a lucrative order for the precision tractor parts that his company, Sjorring Maskinfabrik, makes in northern Denmark, his eyes lit up. The contract was worth more than half a million euros — a boon for his profits.
There was just one hitch: He did not have enough employees for the job.
Delivery was delayed, by one month, then two, then three, as he searched for skilled welders to speed the work at the sprawling factory. But in Denmark’s fast-recovering economy, they were hard to come by.
As Europe rebounds from its economic malaise, Denmark is one of a few countries that can boast of nearing a golden era of full employment, meaning almost everyone who is able and willing to work has a job. But instead of being cheered, it is posing new challenges to the country’s recovery.
More than a third of companies in this industrial and technically advanced nation can no longer recruit enough skilled workers to fill posts. Vacancies abound for IT specialists, computer scientists, engineers and mechanics, as well as for electricians and carpenters. The wages needed to lure them are creeping up. Affected firms are scaling back production, turning down contracts and postponing expansion plans.
“We need more skilled workers, but we can’t get them,” said Enevoldsen, who recently joined other companies in a nationwide advertising campaign to lure talent. “If the labor shortage continues, it could sharply impact our growth, and growth in general.”
Europe’s recovery is gaining traction fastest in the north, where Britain, Germany and Denmark’s Nordic neighbors also pushing toward full employment. The unemployment rate has fallen in the United States as well, and some economists have expressed optimism the country may be headed in that direction.
But the experience in Denmark shows what can happen with too much of a good thing.
This country of just under 6 million people produces a diverse range of goods, from drugs to industrial machinery. To bolster its tech sector, the government recently named a “technology ambassador” to conduct relations with Google and other digital giants.
After a painful recession, unemployment is now at 4.3 percent, which is about as low as it can go without provoking inflation. During an economic boom a decade ago, joblessness fell as low as 2.4 percent, igniting an unsustainable spiral of higher wages and prices that the government desperately wants to avoid today.
經濟反彈（rebound）促使丹麥出現招聘熱潮（hiring frenzy），但因人口不多，以及能就業者多數已就業，工廠與公司行號目前都面臨招不到人的窘境，高技術工人（high-skilled worker）更是難求。由於丹麥的經濟成長仍溫和，去年年成長才1.2%，經濟學家因此憂心忡忡，擔心缺工（labor shortage）問題若無法解決，不僅丹麥人有錢賺不到，還可能使丹麥經濟無法再向上成長，以致未來必須接受低經濟成長的事實。
丹麥政府目前鼓勵工人延後退休（delayed retirement），丹麥的法定退休年齡為65歲，但在2022年前將延長至67歲。政府還鼓勵企業聘用來自歐盟國家的人民，這些人不需工作簽證（employment visa/work visa）就能在丹麥工作。有些雇主已開始找難民（refugee）填補人力缺口，可惜他們鮮少能從事高技術工作。
文中第三段的they were hard to come by，意為有技術的焊工一人難求。hard to come by意為難找或不容易到手。如A good job that you enjoy doing is hard to come by.（你喜歡做的好工作是很難找到的。）