Sweden ‘must improve’ integration of refugees

Swedish authorities have been criticized for their handling of the introduction of new refugees into the country.

A new report from the Swedish Integration Board (Integrationsverket) has shown that the government has a lot of work to do if it is to reach its goal of getting refugees to learn Swedish and join the labour market as soon as possible after they first receive a residence permit.

“Measures are needed quickly to change the current situation,” said Integration Board analyst Gisela Andersson.

The report – ‘One Lost Year’ – is based on interviews with 2,803 refugees and their supervisors in 255 municipalities, as well as information from databases.

Half of those newly arrived in the country had no contact with the labour market in the year after they received permission to stay in Sweden.

Of those who participated in local introductory schemes, only four percent had received work experience, three percent had taken part in labour market training programmes, and six percent had their skills validated. Just eleven percent managed to get jobs.

“Unfortunately this has clear parallels with what we have seen in previous studies,” said Andersson.

Less than half of those surveyed had received a medical examination or received information in their own language about the Swedish health system.

Only 27 percent of those studied had achieved a passing score after a year’s participation in Swedish for Immigrants (Svenska för Invandrare – SFI) courses.

“If SFI is not combined with another form of education, work experience or actual work it does of course become more difficult to learn a new language,” said Andersson.

She also noted that the same shortcomings had been exposed repeatedly over the last ten years, yet still the problems continue.

“Unfortunately we see that history is repeating itself, but it is possible to improve the situation,” said Andersson.