Sweden leads Nordic youth unemployment

While youth unemployment has increased in all of the Nordic countries, it is highest in Sweden at 29 percent, according to a new report from the Nordic Council of Ministers (Nordiska Ministerrådet).

“All countries stand in front of a significant demographic challenge which within a couple of years will create a lack of labour resources. In all countries people are trying to come up with how to expand the workforce in the longer term and thus get more young people into the labour market,” said the Nordic Council of Ministers secretary-general Halldór Ásgrímsson in a comment on the report.

The report suggests that more needs to be done to tackle escalating youth unemployment in Sweden and across the region, including prompt initiatives when young people drop out of education programmes and to ease the transition from school into the labour market.

According to the report 29 percent of those aged 15-24-years-old are unemployed. The equivalent figure in Finland was 27 percent, in Iceland 16 percent, Denmark 13 percent, and in Norway 9 percent.

While youth unemployment has increased over the past two years as a result of the financial crisis, it has been high for a longer period, the report observed.

The report, entitled The Nordic Countries’ efforts to combat youth unemployment”, is set to form the basis of discussions at the upcoming Nordic Youth Council annual session in Reykjavik.

The report recommends a greater integration and knowledge exchange between the Nordic countries in order to coordinate efforts to address the problem.

Furthermore it is argued that education and training should be given a closer focus on what the labour market demands, favouring an investment in practical training.

The report is set to be presented at a Nordic conference on youth unemployment in Copenhagen on October 8th.

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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.”