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'Sweden must do more to utilise foreign grads'

The Local/dl · 20 Apr 2011, 08:38

Published: 20 Apr 2011 08:38 GMT+02:00

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"Foreign-born university graduates have a harder time establishing themselves in the labour market than native-born degree holders," Gudrun Antemar, head of Sweden's National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Antemar cites a new report published by her office on Wednesday which is the first in a series of studies which examine the efficacy of state-sponsored measures meant to improve the ability of foreigners to establish themselves and integrate in Sweden.

According to Antemar, foreigners with university degrees have a higher rate of unemployment and after ten years, only half have found work in fields corresponding to their degree.

Obstacles facing foreign-born degree holders looking to enter the Swedish job market include insufficient information, poor Swedish language skills, and long processing times for certifications and identification documents.

According to the audit office's findings, it takes an average of 2.7 years for a doctor from outside the EU with a speicialisation to receive a licence to practice in Sweden, while doctors without a specialisation are made to wait six years.

Third-country nurses, meanwhile, must wait an average of 4.8 years before being allowed to work as a nurse in Sweden.

"These people are often relatively young and chances are good they can be active in the Swedish job market for a long time," writes Antemar.

"It's a waste of resources to not utilize their competence."

The Audit Office report includes four recommendations to help reduce the amount of time it takes foreign degree holders to reach the Swedish job market, including improved coordination and follow up for existing measures and a concerted effort by the agencies involved to reduce processing times.

In addition, the government Swedish universities, the National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) and the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to do a better job in providing information about programmes available that allow foreigners to compliment training received abroad with coursework in Sweden so they can receive the necessary professional certifications.

The Audit Office also recommends that the government push county administrative boards to do more to provide Swedish-language classes tailored to specific fields, something which only nine of Sweden's 21 counties currently offer.

Story continues below…

Citing ongoing demographic shifts currently underway in Sweden, Antemar argues that foreign-born degree holders will play a key role in helping Sweden deal with a "massive retirement wave" which will see 160,000 workers retire in the healthcare sector by 2018.

"If Sweden is going to survive the generational shift in the labour market, foreign academic competence must be utilised better," she wrote in a statement accompanying the report.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:48 April 20, 2011 by comentatir
Doctors and nurses might be another story, there might be regulations and such I am not sure but for engineers an such, the biggest problem is language obviously. The lack of information stems from that. Universities should provide better and more language courses for foreign-born students. If I am not mistaken they get a fund from government proportional to their number of students. They could use some of it, maybe, for better Swedish courses. One thing is clear that SFI does not work for anyone especially for students. If the government is willing to utilize this work force somehow, they should focus on language.

P.S. I have heard that most of the content of the Swedish courses are somehow aiming to get people to be familiar with the Swedish customs and culture. Some examples are "never ask Swedes how much they make" or "If a Swedish girl says no it means no".

Those are not gonna help poeple to learn Swedish. They are gonna create differences and stereotypes! Change that too :)
10:43 April 20, 2011 by swedejane
Day late and a kronor short...after this year there won't be any more foreign students. Problem solved, I guess.
11:07 April 20, 2011 by sendia
@ comentatir

SFI is surely a good place to start, make use of what is available first before demanding more (atleast thats what we say in industrial engineering). Ofcourse if you finish SFI its possible to continue with Svenska som andra språk which is a lot tougher than SFI. Depending on your speed you can finish SFI sooner. I haven't got a job yet, but I got thesis in a Swedish speaking company in engineering dept. Ofcourse its difficult for me but they are willing to speak a mix of swenglish with me when I have no clue.

I have got three summer jobs in other companies related to my education.

And there is another factor of being in the right place at the right time, how do you reach at the right place at the right time? simply apply, apply , apply and apply non stop.
14:15 April 20, 2011 by Syftfel
I agree, Sweden must do more to utilize foreign grads, AFTER she's done doing more for Swedish grads.
14:30 April 20, 2011 by tina_mano

I dont agree with you! I have been in sweden about 1 year and half and have got SFI and studying svenska som andra språk but never found any (extra) part time or summer jobs! I guess you were pretty lucky!!
15:40 April 20, 2011 by SOUTHLONDON
I've met 12 people here collectively they've been in sweden 6.7years,all have degrees' n Master in Chemistry,bio chemistry,doctor,engineering,logistics,phsycology - NONE of them have work,NONE of them can find work,these guy's n gals are 25 - 32 years of age.

There problem is that they are forced to take jobs Cleaning roads,working as waiters etc,,,,,,,,,,,,some are not working.

What a waste of talent.........................

Sweden is NOTORIOUS for this,it goes back to the LAME/tailor made strategy of the Swedish govnt,LAME procedures,that are brought into play,its really just out right discrimination against most forgien people coming into Sweden.

Sweden knows that in 25 years time that the country (defiantly Stockholm) WILL BE RUN,POPULATED BY MOSTLY IMMIGRANTS SIBLINGS ETC...........
17:04 April 20, 2011 by sendia
@ tina

I'm sorry to hear that, I know that I have been lucky, however I need more of it to find a permanent job.

My point is that SFI and SAS is of some use! they are suitable for getting a good start in Swedish.

SFi is not a tech lang course for sure, when you have the basics you can learn the reqd words.
18:40 April 20, 2011 by miss79
yeah then most swedish will blame that the foreigners "using" their taxes..bla bla bla..complaining
19:57 April 20, 2011 by jimthat
this is a problem

people who encourage foreing professionals are just digging the grave of sweden

highly prepared professional keep all the time convincing weak minded swedes that they dont most be racist that to be racist is bad when in fact is just a matter of genetical survival

why do we need that speech ?

that can be called heat speech because is heat toward the white people

any way i fear we are doomed

a girl i know has been so brain washed that she says she had an oriental boyfriend to show she was not a racist

she felt such a big guilt and the guy took advantage of that
01:08 April 21, 2011 by blursd
I still remember going to a job interview for a position teaching English at a local gymnasium, only to be asked by the administrator twenty minutes into the interview, "do have have any certifications that prove you speak English?" At first I kind of sat there with a confused look on my face, because for the previous fifteen minutes we had been conversing exclusively in English. After realizing she was serious I responded sheepishly, "I'm a native English speaker." "Yes," she said, "but how to we KNOW you really do speak English?" I was completely flabbergasted ... "I have a degree from an English speaking university, in an English speaking country, and we've been speaking in fluent English for the past fifteen minutes" I retorted. "Be that as it may," she responded, "... we require some sort of official certification of your English language skills." She continued, "If you could provide us with a Cambridge Certificate, or a TOFEL score the situation would be resolved." I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You do realize both of those certifications are designed for NON-NATIVE English speakers ... as a native English speaker I am not required, nor expected to take such a test" I told her.

That was one of first experiences trying to find work in the teaching field in Sweden. I walked out of that interview confused and upset. The truly sad thing was I believed at the time the experience had been a complete fluke, but as time went on I found it very evocative of the attitude towards foreign applicants.
06:25 April 21, 2011 by calebian22
Unless you bring something extra to the table with a Swedish company, generally you are going to be disappointed. Swedish skill is the main problem. Unless your positives overcome this huge negative, you will likely remain unemployed.
08:24 April 21, 2011 by fikatid
That's what I love about the US. In the US, if you have the skills and the talent, you can make it very easily. Well, it also comes from the diversity in major national universities, which are far more superior than those in Sweden.

Sorry guys, SFI is crap. The teachers are not motivated at all. The students didn't even want to be there. The lectures....what lectures? It's a waste of time.

To get a job in Sweden, you need to be Swedish, unless you work for international firms. Sweden can never be like London or Zurich. The fundamental issues are more profound than it seems. The reserved culture of the Swedes only adds insults to injuries.
19:45 April 23, 2011 by Hasham
Well something must be done in this respect. I and my wife are medical doctors and want to come to Sweden for specialization. Though we are willing to learn Swedish as well but still what is holding us back is non- cooperative atmosphere there for foreign medical graduates. We would prefer going to middle east or English speaking countries where conditions are extremely favourable for International medical graduates, easier registration process, good job opportunities etc as I think none of fresh doctors would wait for 6-7 years to get licence in Sweden when he has alternatives which are infact not only better but also less time consuming. And that is going to result in extreme shortage of doctors in Sweden, who is already facing that. The national board of health and welfare needs to look into it and take some bold steps to accommodate non-EU doctors as many advanced countries like USA, Canada, UK, Ireland & Australia are doing to overcome their health sector deficiencies.
03:53 April 25, 2011 by wenddiver
'Sweden must do more to utilise foreign grads'

They don't want you in their Country, live with it. There is a big difference between I want to sell you a degree (wink, wink, knod, knod) and I want you to move into my country. Go someplace you are wanted, Duh.
09:34 April 26, 2011 by SamQam
I lived and worked in Sweden for 2 years and usually I avoid making comments about Sweden or the Swedish society. But this time I felt like doing it. Basically, I echo what wenddiver is saying you are not welcomed there. Don't get me wrong Swedes are nice and all but there is this general feeling that it is better that you go back where you came from.

And yeah as my Swedish Boss used to say if you have a wrong name you will never get a job in Sweden so maybe change your name when you apply to something more Swedish. For me I don't like to feel like an uninvited guest so I simply left.

my advice to Swedes in general be nice and don't drink too much because you generally make racist comments when you are. And remember what goes around comes around.

11:18 April 27, 2011 by LeoKinmann
lol jimthat is so hilarious, he said "heat speech", now what is "heat speech", "heat" like in "Miami Heat" LOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

i agree with wenddiver, fikatid and Hasham.
14:35 April 27, 2011 by wenddiver
I am not saying that Sweden is discriminatory, just that most modern nations believe that the purpose of training Doctors from the third World nations is hoping they will go home in the end and modernize their own country, not move here.

Doctors and engineers are desperatly need in the third world and most Westerners are not as effective, because the loal people resent their Colonial heritage.
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