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Row as AMS slammed in report

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19:12 CEST+02:00
Swedish employment service AMS has been slammed by the country's state auditor for prioritizing the management of labour market programmes over helping unemployed people find real jobs.

Now AMS is refusing to allow the full report into the public domain, despite the fact that it is obliged to do so under the constitution.

The report from the State Audit Institution (Riksrevisionen) has come to light thanks to a letter in which AMS responds to the criticism.

The letter from AMS reveals that the report accuses it of prioritizing labour market programmes such as internships and job-seeking courses over its intended core function of linking unemployed people to available jobs.

Too few unemployed people get jobs thanks to the employment service, AMS has poor contacts with employers and it fails to properly evaluate its performance in linking people to jobs, the report, entitled 'Programme or Employment Agency?', says.

In the scathing letter, AMS calls the report "an empty gesture". It accuses the State Audit Institution of having a "lack of respect" for the organization's mission.

The employment service adds that the report "greatly exaggerates" certain failings and that other criticisms are based on "subjective views."

The report has not been made public, something that AMS says is due to the fact that it is still in draft form. The organization was sent a draft to allow it to check facts. However, as it was wrongly registered by AMS as a final report, it is obliged under the Swedish constitution's freedom of speech provisions to make it public.

AMS lawyer Thomas Wengholm admitted to Swedish Radio that his organization was legally obliged to release the document, but said it planned to keep it secret anyway.

"We argue that the State Audit Institution should not have to suffer because of faults in our administration. We have therefore refused to release it," he said.

AMS's deputy director general, Lars Sjöström, denied that the organization found it hard to accept criticism.

"Absolutely not, we are very grateful for constructive criticism, and we will see what the State Audit Institution says in its final report," Sjöström told news agency TT.

Asked how constructive he thought the criticisms in the draft report were, he replied that he would not comment further on the content of the draft.

The employment service also faced criticism earlier in the week, when opposition parties accused it of being politicised.

TT/James Savage

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