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Swedish firms discriminate against foreign names

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11:43 CET+01:00
Individuals with a foreign background have to apply for three times as many jobs as ethnic Swedes before securing employment in Sweden, according to a new study. The International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted the investigation on behalf of the Swedish government.

What happens when a group of 20-24 year olds with exactly the same qualifications and language skills apply for jobs in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö?

All of the candidates in the study were born in Sweden. The birthplace of their parents was all that distinguished them, with one half originating from the Middle East and the other half from Sweden.

The ILO found that individuals with parents from the Middle East "need to apply for three times as many jobs as those with Swedish parents if they are to get to the next step of the application procedure," research coordinator Karin Attström told Sveriges Radio.

When requested by the government to present a report on discrimination on the employment market, the Swedish Migration Board looked to the ILO for assistance. The UN agency is well-versed in the use of the "situation testing method" to measure discriminatory practices.

The method involves getting two people to apply for the same job in a particular line of business. The only way employers can tell the applicants apart is by their names.

Prospective employers were not made aware of the study, in which a total of 1,000 job applications in Sweden's three largest cities were analysed.

The study found that far fewer applicants with foreign names made it to the interview stage. When called to interview however the chances of gaining employment improved considerably for applicants with non-Swedish names.

"What we can say is that there don't seem to be any significant differences in the actual interview situation, where the applicants are treated more equally," said Karin Attström.

The ILO is a UN agency that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. The study is called "Discrimination against native Swedes with immigrant origin in access to employment".

Representatives from the organisation will visit Sweden in February to present the full results of their study.

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