Immigrants often stuck in the ‘wrong’ job: study

Foreigners with university degrees that accept an unskilled job when they arrive in Sweden often get stuck in it for several years, a new study from white collar trade union Jusek shows.

“The risk is that you get stuck. Two thirds of those that have accepted unqualified jobs feel that they can’t get any further within their own field,” Josefin Claesson of Jusek to The Local.

According to the study, only a third of immigrants in a job that doesn’t match their education will manage to move to one that does.

“On the other hand we see that out of those that begin their career in Sweden in a job that corresponds to their education, 91 percent stay within their field,” Claesson told Sveriges Radio (SR).

The Jusek study shows that there are four ways to improve your chances to get a job within the field of your education: intensive Swedish language courses, complementary university studies in Sweden, validation of courses, and professional networks.

The study also showed that English-speakers find it easier to find jobs in Sweden than immigrants with a different language.

A qualified social worker educated in Moscow who came to Sweden three and a half years ago has found herself working as a clerk in a Swedish office.

“I am finding it difficult to find a job within my field, but I think it is because my Swedish is poor,” the woman said to SR.

One of the reasons for why it is hard is that very few jobseekers with an immigrant background feel that they get support from authorities to look for a job within their field of expertise.

“It is really only one in ten that say that they have been encouraged by authorities,” Claesson said.

However, Jusek doesn’t mean to advise their members to refuse an offer of employment.

“It must be up to the individual what he or she wants to do,” Claesson told The Local.

When you leave your country of origin you loose some of your professional capital, according to Claesson.

“It can be a question of language and social codes but also information about the country you are in. It is easy to get stuck in a system while you get further away from your own professional identity,” said Claesson.

It is the government line of getting immigrants into jobs as quick as possible after their arrival in Sweden that is wrong, according to Claesson.

“Very few immigrants get jobs they are trained for within two years of their arrival. But with a little extra time many succeed. Measures have to be allowed to take some time,” Claeson said.

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