Swedish jobs agency lays off 800 job coaches

The Swedish Public Employment Service has laid off 800 temporary job coaches after determining that unemployment was not as high as initially feared.

Swedish jobs agency lays off 800 job coaches

“They over-recruited for an unemployment rate of 12 percent,” Markus Fureberg of university graduate union SSR, which represents the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedligen) in the Saco-s labour group, told magazine Jusektidningen on Tuesday.

Saco-s is a negotiation organisation for state-employed university graduates affiliated with the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (Saco).

The agency will not renew the coaches’ contracts when they expire on December 31st, according to human resources manager Annette Ekström.

“This was an investment we made when there were high unemployment rates. Now we see that the times have changed and we made the assessment that the job coaches’ positions do not needed to be extended,” she explained.

According to Ekström, the coaches have not had enough to do, but the agency is pleased with their performance.

“We will continue to work with coaching, both with our own employment officers and with the external coaching companies with which we also have contracts. We will continue to provide the support to our job seekers that they need,” she said.

The change is consistent, according to Furuberg.

“Arbetsförmedlingen has recruited a large number of new employment officers and the organisation is staffed at a higher unemployment rate than we have today,” he pointed out.

Furuberg is also in favour of university-educated employment agents now taking over the coaching.

“Job coaches were appointed without any skill requirements. However, we believe that job coaching is a properly qualified occupation that is worthy of receiving an in-depth matching,” he said.

At the same time, he believes that the employment officers may come under intense pressure when the job coaches leave.

“Arbetsförmedlingen is an authority where there is a lot to do. Now 1,600 hands are disappearing. It will be a challenge to take over after them,” he said.

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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.”