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Foreign-born rule the ranks of Sweden's bakers

Malin Nyberg · 4 Mar 2011, 16:15

Published: 04 Mar 2011 16:15 GMT+01:00

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In 2009, a total of 36.6 percent of Sweden's bakers, confectioners, and pastry chefs were born outside of Europe, Statistics Sweden (SCB) reported on Friday.

By comparison, a substantially smaller percentage of Sweden's doctors were born outside of Europe, with only one in four born outside the Nordic countries, and only half of those being born outside the EU.

Martin Lundell, manager at The Baking Foundation (Svenska bageriförbundet), is not surprised by the new statistics.

"I’ve come across people from all over the world in this industry and there is definitely a market for it. We need the labour and as bakery is a craft, it’s easy for people who’ve been a baker in their previous country to continue working with it over here," he told The Local.

Handren Mevan and his brother are originally from Kurdistan and opened Mormors Bageri in Lund 1996, a bakery that later turned into a chain.

Today they own five bakeries and employ 77 people.

"I wasn’t actually working as a baker back in Iraq," Mevan told The Local.

"But I was drawn to this profession. It’s creative, exciting and interesting. Besides, it’s in my culture. You’ll find bakeries everywhere in countries like Iran and Iraq, it’s an important thing in our lives to get fresh bread every day."

Mevan, who studied computer science at university in Sweden and "could have gone in another direction", added that the popularity of the bakery profession might also be due to a perceived lack of choice among non-European workers in Sweden.

"There are people who come here and feel like they have no choice but to become bus drivers or to open a restaurant," he explained.

"Working within bakery is another option and probably the best one when it comes to working hours, which is important when you have a family."

Lundell said, however, that he believes most of Sweden's foreign-born bakers take pride in their chosen profession.

“No one is hiring people because they feel sorry for them. People are being hired because they are really good at what they do. In addition, the influences from other cultures help the Swedish baking industry to develop."

Story continues below…

The SCB report also found that home-based personal care, cleaners, and assistant nurses were also common occupations.

Overall, 12 percent of employees aged 16-64 in the Swedish labour market were foreign born in 2009.

The percentage of foreign-born in the overall population was 17 percent, SCB said.

Malin Nyberg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:25 March 4, 2011 by truthworthy
Tell that SD.
20:46 March 4, 2011 by calebian22
SD is listening.
02:46 March 5, 2011 by hammad674
So what to expect more than cleaning and bakery work in Sweden for foreigner. As soon as a person complete education he/she either forced or compelled to leave the country in search of some respectable and reputed Job, because of Swedes no foreigner policy in professional Job market. Sweden is the last place for foreigner to look for some professional job.
10:54 March 5, 2011 by star10
Success of foreign bakers is not surprising given that Swedes don't know how bake bread (they only know how to boil potatoes:)). Of course they are good at all those high tech industries, but when it comes to food, emmmmmmm.....
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