Unemployment in Västernorrland County in northern Sweden has reached 9 percent, while the jobless rate in the town of Sollefteå has hit 12 percent, according to a report by Sveriges Radio (SR).
In an effort to get more Swedes back in the workforce, the local branch of Sweden’s National Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) in Örnsköldsvik is encouraging people to look for work outside of Sweden.
“If people have a hard time finding work at home it can be good to move where the jobs are,” Lena Lundkvist of the local Örnsköldsvik employment office told The Local.
“Getting experience elsewhere can then help your chances of getting a job when you get back.”
In order to help Swedes find work in other countries, Lundkvist’s office is organising a one-day seminar titled “European Job Days”.
Scheduled to take place on November 17th, the job fair will feature representatives from Spain, Norway, the UK, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
The event, arranged in cooperation with the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), will provide information about living and working abroad and other “valuable information” for people thinking about working or studying in another country.
Nineteen-year-old Andreas from Örnsköldsvik told SR he wants to find work before pursuing further education and viewed working in the Czech Republic as an exciting prospect.
“A call centre job wouldn’t be totally foreign for me. And there’s also plenty of good beer in the Czech Republic,” he told the radio programme.
Lundkvist said that interest in finding work in other countries has increased substantially in recent years, with Sweden’s high unemployment rate being one of the factors behind the rising popularity of looking abroad for jobs.
“If there are jobs elsewhere in Europe, we should be telling people about them,” she said, explaining that as one of 55 representatives for EURES in Sweden, her job is to promote mobility within a unified European job market.
According to Lundkvist, prospective employers in other countries look favourbly on Swedish workers.
“Swedes have an excellent reputation as good workers,” she said.
While acknowledging that working abroad has certain benefits, Thomas Carlén, a labour economist with the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) who studies youth unemployment, warned that promoting jobs in other countries was probably not the best way to address youth unemployment in Sweden, which he described as a “major problem”.
“That’s not the right message to be sending people, that they should give up on the Swedish job market and look for work abroad instead,” he told The Local.
“I don’t see anything wrong with helping people learn more about how to seek employment in other countries, but that shouldn’t be seen as the solution.”
Instead, argued Carlén, more energy should be focused on reforming education and labour market policies in Sweden so that it’s easier for young people to find jobs at home.
He explained that half of Sweden’s unemployed youth are students who are unable to find part time work in Sweden. Carlén also pointed out that 25 percent of Swedish young people leave high school without a diploma, which hampers their ability to find work.
“Swedish schools and the labour market need to work in a way that ensures that more young people find work in Sweden,” he said.