McJobs worth more than university

A majority of personnel managers consider a job at McDonalds more valuable than a political science course at university.

A new report – commissioned by McDonalds – has shown that 59 percent of personnel managers consider the experience gained from a job with the global fast food chain more beneficial than a term spent studying political science.

Pollster Sifo asked a total of 200 personnel managers and over 1,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 about the importance of gaining a foothold in the labour market.

Personnel managers (59 percent) and young people (47 percent) both said they valued a job at McDonalds more highly than a term spent studying political science at a third level institution.

The managers surveyed were overwhelmingly in favour of young people finding their way into the labour market at the earliest possible opportunity: 85 percent said that job seekers had satisfactory levels of education but lacked practical experience; 91 percent believed that a lack of work experience made it more difficult for many young people to get a job.

Albin Kainelainen, an economist at trade union confederation LO, acknowledges that youth unemployment is high in Sweden and identifies two central problems that need to be tackled.

“Firstly there is a problem with the education system, both at the gymnasium and university levels.

“There are too few young people going into vocational training to become carpenters, healthcare workers and so on,” Kainelainen told The Local.

He also noted that many people are going into the wrong type of university education as far as jobs are concerned, with political science courses serving as a case in point.

“The second problem is that of wages. Are they too high?

“We do not believe that to be the case. The majority of young people can get jobs. Any lowering of wages would affect a very large group.

“Maybe one needs to look at the wage cost, in terms of social charges for example, and see if it might be possile to introduce an employment subsidy for those who have problems getting work,” he said.

LO has strong ties with the Social Democrats and its recommendations often dovetail with those of the current opposition. With this in mind, how does Albin Kainelainen view the performance of the current centre-right government with regard to creating work for young people?

“The current government won’t solve the youth unemployment problem.

“They have only one method, which involves lowering wages and using the stick rather than encouraging young people to acquire the capabilities they need to perform well on the labour market,” he said.

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”