• Sweden's news in English

Sweden's 'immigrants' find Big Apple success

20 Mar 2012, 11:30

Published: 20 Mar 2012 11:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“Adaptable, well-educated Swedish-Ghanaian fluent in five languages seeking vacant position.”

This is how Medufia "Keke" Kulego would introduce himself in job applications that he sent to countless employers throughout Sweden.

After spending four years in New York studying business marketing and finance on a full scholarship at St. John’s University, Kulego was prepared to start his career back in Sweden.

But despite tons of skills, Kulego was unable to land a job in Sweden that matched the skills he'd acquired at university. Instead he was stuck with mediocre, entry-level gigs.

Kulego was born and raised by Ghanaian parents in Rosengård ‒ a district in central Malmö that some refer to as “the roughest ghetto in Scandinavia.”

Educated, fully fluent in Swedish, and entirely assimilated to the Swedish society, Kulego was left to assume his ethnicity was the reason he'd been shut out of the Swedish job market.

Aggravated with the situation, Kulego looked for opportunities back in the United States, hoping employees there would have more confidence in him than those in his home country did.

And in 2001, Kulego was given the chance he's been waiting for: he went from being an underrated jobseeker in Sweden to a successful investment banker on Wall Street.

“In the States, your skills and personality are what matters,” Kulego, 39, says.

“Here, it's different from Sweden, where your name is a first indication of whom you are."

As Kulego sees it, job seekers in the US aren't prejudged by their surnames as often as seems to be the case in Sweden.

"Here, a ‘Kulego-CV’ has the same chance as a ‘Svensson-CV’. In this sense, I believe that Sweden has much to learn from the US regarding how it can best utilize its immigrant citizens’ talents instead of losing them to competitive markets,” he explains.

Kulego’s story is not unique.

Talking to educated immigrants in Sweden, and a consensus quickly emerges: immigrant unemployment is a serious problem.

According to November 2011 figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån, SCB), the unemployment rate among immigrants in Sweden is around 35 percent.

This staggering number is based on several factors including the lack of ample jobs in the Swedish market, discrimination, and complications involving the accreditation of foreign degrees.

Consequently, many immigrants leave Sweden to look for jobs elsewhere. Norway, England and the United States have, due to their high demands for workers, been some of the more popular destinations among young immigrant professionals from Sweden.

“I’ve never asked for special treatment, just a fair shot that would allow me to contribute to Swedish society,” says Kulego, recalling his frustration while job hunting.

Following his move to Manhattan, Kulego met a group of other first-generation Swedes living in “self-imposed exile” in New York City.

Among them was Omino Gardezi, a Persian/Indian-Swede, with whom Kulego met up in 2004 and started the network, “Blatte United”, which aims to connect immigrants with roots in Sweden.

The term “blatte” is a derogatory Swedish slang term often used in reference to an immigrant, but Kulego and Gardezi thought it was well-suited for their growing network as the duo wanted to reclaim the normally negative connotations of the term and link it to something positive.

There are roughly 25 expat Swedes who are members of Blatte United who live and have successful careers in New York City.

The network is an upbeat and unique group of people which includes renowned star Swedish chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson.

Together they entertain, travel, play football and debate about current affairs in Sweden. Recently they had a chance to meet with prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to debate on Sweden's immigration-emigration challenge.

“In New York, we are all foreigners,” says Kulego.

"Anyone competent is likely to get a chance.”

Stories like Kulego's have caused concern in some quarters in Sweden, with commentators such as author Tove Lifvendahl arguing that Sweden risks losing many highly qualified workers when Swedish society makes them feel undervalued.

“We bullied them away and showed them the door,” she wrote in a recent column.

Story continues below…

Lifvendahl's argument rings true for Kulego, who says the endless rejection he experienced in Sweden is ultimately what drove him away.

“I love Sweden. It is my home. But I had to leave because it did not want me,” he says.

“And although I must admit that walking away from the comfortable and secure social welfare system I had in Sweden was not an easy thing to do, I am happy with my decision because today I am successful in a way that I would not be had I stayed there. I am on the world stage; I am where everyone wants to be.”

Ironically, the story of Kulego's success abroad has helped get him the recognition that previously eluded him back in Sweden.

He's been featured in a number of media reports about Blatte United which highlight the fact that people with diverse ethnic, cultural and professional backgrounds, can succeed even if they are "blattar" from Rosengård, or born to parents of modest means.

Now a father of three himself, Kulego hopes to see improvements in Sweden in the near future so that his teenage children won’t have to face the same obstacles he once did.

“Sweden’s demographic is changing,” he says.

“Therefore, the business culture must change its mentality, and not be afraid to open its doors to non-traditional standards.”


Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:05 March 20, 2012 by Localer
so why wait, the government should send all these immigrants to the States to become one like him, a success richer man.
12:49 March 20, 2012 by lilsocks
"Instead he was stuck with mediocre, entry-level gigs" Now this is the REAL problem with numerous uni grads......they are part of the MEMEMEMEME generation that expect high paying roles without experience! Decent education should not mean you start at a higher level in a company but merely allow you (through hard work and application of skills) to progress quicker, it certainly worked well that way for me and my Phd in computer science.

For the record I work with some amazingly gifted people who have little formal education that literally wipe the floor with most, if not all grad students (including myself).

I do find it interesting that a number of colleagues I work with state they are fluent in English when that just is not the case, it seems to be a common oversight by people believing pidgin English means fluent.
12:51 March 20, 2012 by peter connell
This article hits the problem exactly. I am mului-lingual English, and coming up to my third year in Sweden. I have skills and international experience that is above normal for Sweden, but I have found it difficult to gain access to the righ calibre of jobs in the market. I took advice and learnt Swedish, but the problem remains. Why do we stay?. Because we fell in love with the country, and we have invested a lot to be here. However, I am now starting to look for work in Europe, and the response from the recruitment community in other countries has been completely positive. We may still make it work here, but the barriers to the job market remain artificially very high for immigrants in Sweden.
12:51 March 20, 2012 by canuk
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:29 March 20, 2012 by asifbit
@ canuk

It is not only immigrants who doing this most swedish have also been involved in this. Does it mean that all people from Sweden should move to US? Swedish have to learn some thing too what ever they doing is right but if immigrant does that than it is wrong.
13:57 March 20, 2012 by Migga
How can Medufia "Keke" Kulego say that his ethnicity was the reason he'd been shut out of the Swedish job market when he was offerd entry-level jobs just like any other swedish uni grad?
14:02 March 20, 2012 by G Kin

canuk 's point of view is representative of the problem pointed out in this article. It is just pathetic how they think. There most be something lacking in them so much that they can't rational. that will give others what they do not have.
14:09 March 20, 2012 by Rishonim
Congrats to all those people that left this dreadful single minded society. It doesn't matter if you are first or third generation Swede. If you have a non Swedish sounding name your chances of getting any meaningful work drops 98%. You could get a farmer Swedish boy from Motola (Linus) with a high school diploma and a MBA from Warton (Chahid) competing for the same job in Sweden and 9 out of ten times the farmer boy will get the job....Just facts
14:29 March 20, 2012 by Abe L
More then happy to see more immigrants take the plunge and move the US.
14:39 March 20, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
As an american in the US in the early 2000s, ANYONE with a degree could get a job with an "investment banker" firm as many were small boutique's hiring anyone as you could make money from just sitting there with low interest rates and returns much higher in a bubble economy.

I agree, he didn't want a entry level job... even if he was entry level.
14:39 March 20, 2012 by MIDAZ
Wish it was Vice Versa cant even sniff a job here
14:48 March 20, 2012 by mek2012
this is the truth in Sweden. open your eyes and look there are more talented people than you ever imagine!
16:10 March 20, 2012 by hipersons1
@lilsocks: I don' t know for certain, but it seems you are projecting your own irritations with the younger generation rather than accurately reading the text. Given my experiences, I read "mediocre, entry-level gigs" to mean things that are well below a good starting point. And I'm not talking about "assistant xyz," more like "envelope stuffer".

Things have changed a bit since 2000, and by that I mean they have gotten worse. I had 3 years communication experience before compleeting my masters degree. I also have completed nearly 4 internships (two years) where I did real work. Two of them were with prestigious organizations and all of loved me and kept me on for longer becuause they didn't want me to go. And yet, I **still** recognize that I'm on an **entry-level** in the field I'm applying in. I know how to sell, and so I sell myself well (the reason why I got these hard-to-get internships in the first place) yet I can't even get that supid enveloper stuffer job because some unemployed bloke with 15 years experience stuffing envelopes applied for the job, too, and is happy to get anything.

And for what it is worth, I didn't get a masters to wash dishes, walk dogs, or sweep floors. I didn't get one to stuff envlopes, either, but I'd do it to get in the door of an interesting organization.

Bottom line, there's more reasonable folks out there than you think considering the depth of the employement problems world wide. If you keep your eyes and ears open I think you'll find more examples like this one.
18:03 March 20, 2012 by Greysuede
i don't understand why wouldn't he try to find a job in his native Ghana?

Or why wouldn't he take job as lecher, cleaner or caring employee?

i don't think that people with backgrounds in New York or London are needed much in the continental Europe.
19:30 March 20, 2012 by fikatid
Well, NYC is different. As long as you have the talent, you will get a good job. It is the same in Silicon Valley. If you have ever visited any of the big company campuses such as Apple and Google, diversity is ubiquitous and it plays a big part in innovation.

Sweden is just Sweden. It will remain unchanged for a long time. People will still like their Samla, hiding in their summer houses year after year and complaining about their neighbors in the laundry room.
20:16 March 20, 2012 by lovebobu
i think the main point of article is to tell those Swede to break down their traditional value and open their mind up for diversity because we all know that diversity is good (at least with globalisation)...............obviously there are still some swedes, with the comment above, dont.

I personally and professionally pro for this article.
20:35 March 20, 2012 by Migga
@ lovebobu

So Swedes can`t be open minded and accept diversity while still holding on to their culture, traditions and values?

I hope and think they can. I`d hate for a country of 9 million with a unique culture to be broken down from the face of the planet in the name of globalization. Not much diversity if cultures like the swedish one would be gone.
22:25 March 20, 2012 by weballergy
I don't know how it is to live in Sweden for an immigrant (I've always been a tourist there). But this I can tell you: compared to be an immigrant in another country, Sweden might be paradise.

Is almost never good to be an immigrant. Anywhere. If you're called, that's one thing, but If you're forced to move for any difficult situation to any country, you're probably gonna eat some sh..... Like it or not is the true. With hard work you can still turn out quite good (some people don't integrate, but that's another story), but is never easy, the psychological impact is huge. And don't forget that Swedish were and are immigrants too. Sweden advanced quite a lot since the 50's, but you can't keep living in the past. The situation could be turned over in the future. The world is moving fast. Poor countries manufacture, produce and grow. Not far in the future will level rich ones. I think is better to be helpful with others who may need help. All you do in life, comes back to you.
23:17 March 20, 2012 by Max Reaver

fikatid's point is mostly "complaining about their neighbors in the laundry room". I for one don't care if ppl stuff themselves with semlor and sill. But I don't like when people say it's wrong to not eat semlor and sill.

Seriously, if swedes voted for a government that allowed immigrants to arrive, then they have already made the choice. The choice made is to let ppl with different background into the country, with different culture, language and knowledge. By then, you should at least accept the fact that these immigrants are different, and that these ppl won't be satisfied working as cleaners and living life like 2nd class citizens, just like any human being with self-respect. This article is so true, because I lived in NY and I knew what I experienced. I recall having dinners with my american friends there, they'd tell me that their great-great grandparents came from England/Russia/Italy, and they'd tell me about the holidays of their ancestral home. We enjoyed having conversations like this, talking about our differences. Here in Sweden, how many Swedes can name the dates of any Jewish/Muslim/African/Asian holidays? The number must be very slim. So this is Sweden, where the "natives" don't accept that the immigrants they welcomed in are different, and therefore they don't respect the differences.
01:11 March 21, 2012 by suprkynu
i think this article is a lesson for swedes and decide whether they will compete with their fellow europians about world market nd technology or reject the skilled immigrants and be cold silent unproductive country like eastern europians for the next 20 yrs.
02:16 March 21, 2012 by SecondGen
@canuk #4

We don't have real punishment here in the states. Fewer than 50% of the crimes actually result in an arrest and conviction, so right there the odds are better than 50/50 of getting away with it, and when they do, the punishments aren't severe (unless it's drug related).

In Chicago, the final total for last weekend was 49 shot, 10 fatally (and that was just last weekend. The only arrest I heard about were 2 gang members who killed a 6 year old girl in a drive-by by accident.

In the true example of "It's a small world", at my old home a new family moved it, turned out the dad (Dan) had beaten to death the guy my wife used to sit next to in kindergarten. Eventually Dan, Dan the wife beating man was arrested a few times for beating his wife and he left her for a new woman. She sold the home to 3 families which were even worse and we moved opted to move.

Anyway, the story of his crime was Dan was rev'ing his motorcycle and the guy who used to sit next to my wife in kindergarten walked out on his front porch at his home and yelled something about the noise, a scuffle ensued which left the man dead on his front porch and Dan driving away.

Dan spent 4 years in jail because he had been drinking.

Anyway, if that guy came here as an investment banker in 2001 as the story says, he may well have had a hand in our financial collapse. Not a desired profession these days and taxpayers won't stand for them to be bailed out again.
10:46 March 21, 2012 by Decedo
Good article. The only difference between the 40's - 50's era deep (US) south and Sweden, is you can clearly recognize the racists in the deep south.

I ran into a racist here. I was considering 'calling him out', and my (Swedish) co-workers said 'oh no no no, you can't do that. That's not the Swedish thing to do'....huh? Just turn a blind eye and let them by, like they did with Hitler?
11:31 March 21, 2012 by scrawler
Among them was Omino Gardezi, a Persian/Indian-Swede, with whom Kulego met up in 2004 and started the network, "Blatte United", which aims to connect immigrants with roots in Sweden

Swedish people has to learn something being silent every cause doesn't solve the problem. Silence is also one of the rude behaviour. When I read above stated line it makes me to lol"fying like anything if immigration son born in Sweden but he doesn't look like a swede at all then entire Sweden against his look they never say him he is Swedish. If he is very famous person then you will call him as swede. African- swede, Indian-swede, German-swede, Finnish-swede? What if zlatan is not famous then what you guys' shud've called him? Sweden is always upfront in sowing detest among younger generation. You reap what you sow.

If immigrant engaged in sex its call rape. When Swedish does this it's not rape. This kind of attitude may leads to turmoil in long run it's just beginning of your echo attitude is SAAB, Volvo, Sony Ericsson many more to come in future to reap.
16:39 March 21, 2012 by Migga
@ Max Reaver

Well it`s nothing wrong to eat semlor and sill. Also there might not be many Swedes who knows the date for different holidays regarding different cultures but I think that it`s the same amount as the number of people from different countires that don`t sit around and eat semlor or sill and engage in Swedish culture. I think people on both sides needs to work at it.

@ Decedo

Ah yes Sweden is just like the USA in the 50s. In the south where they hanged people because of their skincolour, you can see that here aswell.

Things might be bad in Sweden but it will never stoop that low.
16:44 March 21, 2012 by EP
Why put the word immigrants in quotes? They are immigrants if they chose to settle permamently in another country, whereas they are expats if they are temporarily in another country. Yes, even the Brits can be immigrants and not only expats ;-) as they often like to label themselves ;-)
17:10 March 21, 2012 by mcjensen
Wait, Swedish-Ghanaian or Ghanaian-Swedish? Didn't know there were Swedes emigrating to Ghana.
18:23 March 21, 2012 by Summer Dreams
am out soon

country is a rat hole when you speak only civilized languages like english.
01:13 March 22, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:44 March 22, 2012 by mkvgtired
I thought these people might just be frustrated with a slumping job market. There is a huge difference between an immigrant that just moves somewhere for the welfare benefits and one that gets an education and tries to succeed. I cant believe how many people are saying "good riddance."

No wonder these people leave. Swedes on these boards complain ad nauseum about immigrants not integrating, then tell the ones that legitimately want to integrate to leave.

Just to let you know, the ones on welfare are not going anywhere. If you want to keep chasing talented people out of your country, we're more than happy to take them, but I would not recommend it. The majority of people I know with successful businesses in the US are non-Western European immigrants. And guess what, their businesses employ people and pay taxes.

Clearly its not all Swedes, but for those of you that think its a good thing all these people left you may want to adjust how you treat people. If not, you will only be left with the welfare dependent immigrants, and all the ambitious ones will be contributing to US society as opposed to Sweden.

Sometimes this site really amazes me.
10:06 March 22, 2012 by Decedo
This is probably as scary a statments to Swedish bosses as IRS Tax Audit is in the US businessmen.......Affirmative Action!!! This was brought in by the US democrats in the early 60's, to break their 50's era racism and maybe Sweden needs it now. What better way to integrate immigrants into society and force 'society' to accept immigrants. I work in a company here in Sweden of about a thousand employees. I can count maybe a dozen immigrants on the production line, and 2 in management. They have a 'self' imposed policy to look at immigrant applicants, but it's never followed through.
11:45 March 22, 2012 by cogito
The company where I work is one of Sweden's largest and best known.

On two occasions, we were in desperate need of filling a position. I wanted to bring in a highly qualified immigrant. During meetings, colleagues and management expressed fears of something they called "culture clash."

The second time it happened, I got it: "culture clash" is code for racism/xenophobia.

Instead, they employed two Swedes, who showed themselves to be unqualified for the work.
13:13 March 22, 2012 by reco73
funny that they went from a country who labels them "immigrants" to a country where they will be forever labeled "aliens"....... unless of course they apply for citizenship....nuff said I think!
14:00 March 22, 2012 by phil23456
America can have all the immigrants, it's an immigrant country, Sweden is not, it has a much older history. America isn't really a country, it's an economy.
16:20 March 22, 2012 by mkvgtired
Reco73, I've never heard anyone refer to someone as an "alien" in normal conversation. They will be referred to as "immigrants", but it does not have the negative connotation it apparently does in Sweden. People will most likely be curious what type of background these guys have. Especially because of the combination of their Swedish accent with their North African background.

Not sure what that jab is suppose to accomplish. The article is pretty clear they are more accepted in the US.
16:33 March 22, 2012 by rolfkrohna
Illustrated Swedish "massinvandring" and "massutvandring"

Last one leaving (with Swedish passport and tax funded education), please turn off the light.
16:40 March 22, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
@mkvgtired Seriously? In California, where I'm from, all immigants are referred to as "aliens". It just seems that Politically Correct crazy Sweden likes to use more polite terms when refering to non-Swedes.

And trust me: New Yorkers aren't gonna be "curious" about their background! They are smart enough these people are not real Swedes!
21:21 March 22, 2012 by mkvgtired
Spuds, maybe you and your friends in CA refer to them as aliens. But my dad's half of my family is from/in CA and no, that is not how people refer to them (maybe on government documents etc. but not in conversation).

And how would you know what New Yorker's think? I know they will not think they're ethnically Swedish (that is pretty obvious). They will be curious what kind of upbringing they've had because their accent will not match their ancestry.

New Yorkers clearly do not care if they're "real" Swedes or not, as you put it.
23:35 March 22, 2012 by Max Reaver
Spuds, let me enlighten you on how New Yorkers think. I'm a non-Swedish citizen of Sweden using Swedish passport. When I lived in New York, the first thing people found interesting was the combo of my Swedish accent and clearly-not-Scandinavian look. They approached me in droves out of curiosity and we'd start having nice little conversations. Simply being me, helped my social life as well as career development. To NYers, my kind are something of a novelty, we are "exotic". Here in Sweden most ppl treat me like any educated immigrant, a nobody.
02:12 March 23, 2012 by kzjh72
I have experienced the job market in Sweden and in Australia and I believe it is more difficult for people with foreign sounding names to get a 'fair go' in Sweden than what it is here in Australia as well as, according to this article, in the US.

One possible reason could be that Sweden in the last decade or so have taken aboard a big number of 'problem' immigrants/refuges. This might be a contributing factor to why even honest and hardworking people with names sounding as belonging to this problem group find it more difficult to be given a chance. I'm not bringing this up as an excuse for employers to be to hasty to dismiss some job applications, though it could be part of the explanation to why it is so.
02:20 March 23, 2012 by mkvgtired
Max, thanks for posting. As a Chicagoan, I went to school with some ethnic minorities from Europe, and I have to say when I ran into them it always grabbed my curiosity. Usually they had pretty amazing stories (if they actually immigrated to Europe instead of being born there).

Obviously in Chicago we get immigrants from everywhere in Chicago, but it was cool to hear from people that have lived in a vastly different world, then two Western nations.

I always love hearing stories from immigrants. And if you ask usually they're more than happy to tell you. Have heard everything from a Somalian guy who watched his parents be killed, to a sheltered Japanese girl that let loose once she got here on her student visa, and everything in between.

I have heard many ethnic minorities complain about how they're treated in Europe. I always thought they might just be frustrated with the recession. Reading comments like on here make me realize that might not be the case.
06:05 March 23, 2012 by skatty
I think it's progressive to try to get a better life; if it wouldn't be possible in Sweden, then somewhere else.

The fact is that immigrants, first and second generation don't get possibilities for a better life in Sweden (at least for a remarkable number), and why not to try somewhere else! If somebody has the potential and ability to start somewhere else, and it not too late, particularly young people (before they become an alive fossil in Sweden), then they should move and try somewhere else; US or wherever they consider worth to try a new life.
06:20 March 23, 2012 by SecondGen
@ hipersons1

You don't need to get a masters degree to work, in fact, I worked as a senior software engineer for IBM for more than a decade without any degree at all. It was only later when I started getting requests to speak at a local college that I took stock of myself and went back to school and completed a few degrees (including an MS/CS since masters degree is considered the minimum to teach).

Those internships should have generated references and demonstrated talent to get you hired. If not, volunteer with non-profits to get your name out (especially since you are in communications). Do press releases for charities, get known, get demonstrable skills, get hired!
11:28 March 23, 2012 by afterdark
you,blond hair and blue eyes,you should call yourself KKK and wear an white crest with 2 holes where you have the eyes,you need to see,not to step in your s..it!
11:53 March 23, 2012 by sparkriver
This is so true with Sweden. Though I was not brought up in Sweden. I had higher education there. Many Swedish firms don't even looked at my resume considering me as outsider. I was no fresher at that time .. I had 3+ years of experience and higher education in very specialized field. I got tons of job offer from US but not a single one from Sweden. Though I have spent 3 years of my life there and never been to US before. It made me think today that I would have much better If I have chosen US instead of Sweden for destination for higher education. Anyway now I am doing well in US. But its never good for a society to think that immigrants will always do a lower job in their society .
12:44 March 23, 2012 by reco73
it's obvious that it will be easier to get a job in the US than in Sweden but I don't think it's for the fact you have a foreign surname....I think it all depends what area you work in and what degree you have. I have an engineering background and got a job within 6 months of moving here with little grasp of Swedish....in fact my interviews were in english. Saying that someone with a law degree or medical degree will find it much harder to find a job here without further edcation at a Swedish Uni...simple as that.....someone who works in media will find it much harder in Sweden, than in the US... just because of the sheer diference in size of the two countries there will be more people wanting media jobs than companies offering those jobs here in Sweden.....simple...
13:55 March 23, 2012 by jostein
Good riddance.
19:27 March 23, 2012 by philster61
Am curious as to how they get green cards......Which is necessary to live and work in US......
22:02 March 25, 2012 by Martin Lundh
Equal terms is the key word. In the end none of us really measures like "kvotering" in Sweden. I remember myself asking a stereotypical man something like 15 years ago if he had two job applicants with equal qualities besides that one was of foreign descent …."which one would you choose?". He answered "our own", meaning the ethnical Swede. At that moment I felt great shame understanding that this "innocent" attitude will decimate the already under populated nation of skilled workers. Reading this article reminded me of the responsibility those of us that chose to remain her in Sweden. Sadly enough I have to admit that too many of my foreign friends left around the millennium for the same reasons as "Keke". Things have become better now but a lot of work is still to be done and I personally feel ashamed that a name still can make a difference in this so called modern Europe.
22:16 March 25, 2012 by IranianAtheist
US is a better place to look for a job as an educated person. Even though it is really hard for Iranians to get a US student visa and study in USA (for the sheer fact that there is no US embassy in Iran and embassy personal are not generous in issuing student visas for Iranians) , usually the pain ,sometimes several trips to Turkey or Dubai for visa interview, is paid off at the end when they find a good job after graduation. Two of my classmates (from Iran's best engineering university) went to US and now one is an assistant professor in Berkeley and the other is an assistant professor in Stanford. Those who chose to go to places such as Canada (to avoid hassles of US visa) are now straggling with unemployment, unstable jobs in start-ups, or keep getting new degrees hoping that something will change.
01:26 March 26, 2012 by Smartone
@ Martin: I find it very interesting and true that you have shared your personal 'hirring' experience! As far as name is concerned Svensson, Karlsson and so on and so forth who holds only a certificate of 'Gymnasium' are given preference over highly educated foreign descent!

Sooner or Later, the consequences of denying educated foreigners will result into 'lack of skills and professional in Sweden'. Then people would only enjoy fika and sova gott :)
11:36 March 26, 2012 by ccb
I am quite amused by the amount of persons that wrote good riddance and Sweden doesn't need these 'low-lifes'. Now this is a man who has studied and worked trying to make something of himself. Yet because he was born to parents from Ghana who probably left their country and all they knew to go to Sweden in hopes of a better life. I will not go into why so-called 'third world' states are in the the situation they are in because of 'first world' greed. Yet if you, as a human being, can sit there and actually think and condemn a person who has clearly been trying to make their life better while influencing the lives of others, I think you have a severe problem. No where did he say he hates Sweden which I sooooo often hear from most immigrants here, he went as far as to say he loves it and wishes better for the nation. If people still are judging him by the colour of his skin and his heritage then they really need to have some time of introspection. Because you were born in Sweden of Swedish ancestry does not make you a better human being, so if you think so, get help, I beg you!

Please note that Sweden doesn't exist in a bubble, it too must be competitive and innovative on the global scale. What worked for Sweden back in the 60s and 70s isn't going to work today.


You are quite right, I have seen it with my own eyes and some of my colleagues have seen it too, where very qualified immigrants are left by the wayside for the underqualified national counterparts. In the case I experienced the effects were disastrous to say the least.


You seem to always be the most vehement in defending Swedish culture. It has been my experience that the vast majority of Swedes, who I have had the pleasure meeting, that have lived abroad for extended periods, when they return they abhor Swedish culture. Why is that?

I have also had various experiences in the workplace here in Sweden and many immigrants tend to work longer and harder, very few 'VAB' or 'sjuk' days often for less benefits and less gratitude. Why is this?
17:36 March 26, 2012 by Migga
@ ccb

I obviously can`t speak for all the Swedes who has left Sweden. However I don`t think it`s all that strange that the people who left the country in the first place has a reason, or a few, to abhor it`s culture.

No idea. Perhaps people who leave their homeland to integrate somewhere else and find a better future are more driven? I bet the guys in the article, coming from Sweden and then moving to the USA, are very driven.

Also I want it to be known that I don`t think the swedish culture or people is superior. It`s better in some places and worse in other places. With that said I don`t think it`s wrong that I point out when Sweden has done something better in one place when it comes to other countries. But I`m also very quick to, for example, point out that I think that the swedish judicial system is flawed.
23:23 March 26, 2012 by Max Reaver
unbelievable, the talks on this thread keeps flowing...

reminds me of when i worked at Autoliv in Linkoping. there was a German engineer on visit. me and a few colleagues accompanied this guy to lunch. during the lunch session, my swedish colleagues who sat next to the German never even talked to him, and all the talks they had among each other were in SWEDISH. rudeness and inhospitality in its highest degree. it's funny to think that Autoliv's staff boast alot abt how multinational the company is, and how multicultural their working environment is. anyway, after seeing how their employees act in a slightly "multicultural setting", i dont buy that bullcrap anymore.
06:07 March 27, 2012 by skatty
@IranianAtheist #49

I knew a couple of top student from Iran too, who ended up in Sweden with their family. One is a bus driver now after a decade; and the other one has no Idea what he is now, he has changes and studies so many different courses and got different degrees, but no job at the end.

So, it's very important, where somebody would end up and what alternatives and opportunities they get. I should say it has been much easier moving to Sweden than US for the Iranian, but the result of one decade life in Sweden and US or Canada might be very different!
08:46 March 28, 2012 by Delano
@ Greysuede

His "native Ghana"? Did you read this:

Kulego was born and raised by Ghanaian parents in Rosengård ‒ a district in central Malmö that some refer to as "the roughest ghetto in Scandinavia."

16:57 March 28, 2012 by donfabricio
I'm afraid quite a few folks here still don't get it. you don't get a job in Sweden because you are good at what you do, on the contrary the better you are at your job, the less likely you are going to get hired if you are a non white Swede of course. In Sweden it is more important to give the impression that you will fit in than any qualifications or experience you may have.

A country where having an opinion is synonym of confrontation tells a lot about the people who lives there.
01:30 March 29, 2012 by Jeff10
More power to you Mr. Kulego and welcome to the US.
12:32 March 30, 2012 by Ansgard
Then what excuse do Swedes have that leave the country? Racism? LOL!

There are more opportunities in a country with 300 million people than a country with 9 million people.

The Local is ridiculous at times.
20:00 March 31, 2012 by davidcameron
Again, tons of news out there to report on. Why this?
13:18 April 1, 2012 by hipersons1
You don't have to lecture me, SecondGen, I'm always working on something as are all of my friends who are struggling and are in the same situation as me, including the ones with bachelors and no degrees.

Your career experiences are inspirational, thank you for sharing them. My point, however, is that they don't really reflect todays marketplace. Things have changed. It does require more education, networking, and selling yourself than ever before. Example: I'm friends with a guy who started a MAJOR internet company back in the 90s, and he told me that when he was getting started they would hire anyone who knew how to use a mouse and train them from there. They just needed the warm bodies. And not intern, hire, pay them for real. Benefits. Now, of course, things are totally different.

As for me, my contacts are in high places who know a lot of the people I need to get to know. Some of them have not been in a position to hire me because the whole venture is volunteer based or because its an intl org subject to insane hiring processes that have no back or side door. Others have not been in a position to hire because they don't have the budget. They have all put me in contact with their colleagues and promoted my name for jobs they have heard about, slipped my name into professional meetings and suggested they hire me. I've had interviews, coffees, phone calls, CV reviews, volunteered on projects, etc. Bottom line, getting hired as a young person takes time in todays world. It takes slowly building a network and experiences so you're in the right place at the right time. I know this, and so do many of my peers. We are working hard because most of us, despite what many older people think, do not think that we are entitled.

I have seriously considered your views and examples, I hope you seriously consider mine. It's not so black and white.
14:09 April 3, 2012 by djmarko
Once upon a time the ''made in china'' label attracted so much scorn and laughter, now the Chinese are the world 2nd largest economy, there are thousands of Swedes working in China, The chinese have been buying a lot of global brands like Saab, Volvo, traditional Swedish institutions, probably more, the likes of Sony Ericsson had to be bought out because they lacked innovation to produce anything different from a walkman!!! i know this because i worked for Sony Ericsson for 3 years, the R&D department in Lund and Stockholm were not innovative enough, thats when Iphone came in and filled the gaps in 2007, Nokia and Sony ericsson commanding presence in the smart phone market went on a freefall and has never recovered it seems

These days, for companies to survive, they are supposed to be up to date with modern day cutting edge technology, this means often hiring the best talent available irrespective of race, creed or colour, the world is now a global village, The US seems to be doing well at attracting top talent, i am sure ''Apple'' has a huge talent base, probably international in outlook, the same goes for the Indians, probably the world largest outsourcing capital when it comes to IT, I know this because they outsourced sony ericsson SAP department to the Indians.

Seems smaller nations are catching up, you have the BRIC nations doing absolutely well, even the traditional poorer African nations seems to be on the rise and are posting healthy GDP digits

I have been in Sweden for nearly 5 years, fair enough, i have not experienced what others have been through but i am very conscious that their concerns are more than valid, telling people to leave if they dont like it seems very immature if you ask me, I have met many talented Swedes, both ethnic and immigrants, some are unemployed but highly educated, Sweden cannot afford to lose these types of people, i mentioned the fact traditional brands are sinking fast like Saab, Volvo and probably more to come if they dont take steps to address these issues, other smaller nations are catching up, the best companies i have worked for were probably the ones with an international background, every individual bringing something unique to the table

I have noticed also that companies in Sweden prefer to hire competent employees from outside Sweden rather than look inwards, thats probably how i ended up here, you get some roles that cannot be filled for months because some HR personnel refuse to think outside the box

I am not complaining, its just a general observation but i do stress Sweden has so many talented individuals!! it will be a shame if they keep on losing thousands of these young people to places like the US or the UK!!!
08:34 April 4, 2012 by ctinej
I wonder if his litter mates and parents helped to make Malmo the roughest place in Sweden? If not, they are the unfortunate recipients of the reputation others have given Malmo.

Sad case here where prejudice maybe hurt one not deserving of it. Sounds like a hard working good guy to me. You have to be exceptional for that kind of scholarship.
19:02 April 4, 2012 by Bolinb
The most prejudiced country I have EVER lived in across Asia and Australia. Used to think Aussies were a bit biased. Now I know they are pretty cool about what country you come from. Bugger this country I will take my skills and money somewhere else soon
16:06 April 10, 2012 by Iraniboy
Except in very few cases, you cannot simply get a job in Sweden based on your personal qualification. Even if you have the best qualification for a job you won't get a job unless you are personally known to the employer. That's why it is said in Sweden that having 'Contacts' is very important. One reason for having this system stems from the fact that employment rules in Sweden are very strict for the employers so the they'd rather to work with someone they can work with for years hassle free rather than a qualified person who can fix their problems in a minimum time.
16:22 April 12, 2012 by efm
Hope all the educated immigrants- Swedish find jobs and contribute all their talents and skills to the USA. As a whole it makes

USA stronger and better. Obviously, I'm American.

Backward Sweden is decades behind others in utilizing valuable

human resources.
19:24 April 12, 2012 by Euro22
Does he rally need to concern himself about the social welfare system if he is employed as an investment banker on Wall Street - are the Swedish benefits that attractive? Probably referring to health benefits - but he probably has something near to a champagne health insurance policy - that would cover most everything - boohoo!!

Here is a guy who was making an effort to get in but was flung off !! But he turned it into a positive.

Sometimes things take a little longer to change - so its not all bad.

It might inspire - businesses to take on people with funny last names!!
09:48 April 18, 2012 by Marc the Texan
As long as he's legal, I'm fine with it.
05:54 April 20, 2012 by nathan45
"The unemployment rate for immigrants is around 35%" I think that Sweden needs about 35% less immigrants.
05:38 April 23, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
I wonder, if it ever comes to being rejected having a scandinavian name and appearance.

I have had an idea for some time, that the scandinavian countries could use some sort of joint news channel or something. Language would of cource be english, reporters should have mixed backrounds.

There´s all sorts of crazy going on in here, but no one knows too much about it.

If that particular guy with he´s backround, came to a job interwiew, AND he had the experience + the right mindset, he´d be hired in that second as an economic expert. The will to understand economics is on the rise, there is just too much propaganda and manipulation out there.

My problem is, I´m short of money, cause in a country where everything is sort of ready for you, you do not need to think too much. Just drag your ars*e into work each morning and go on strike every now and then. Get a loan to buy a house, just by staring a the current interest rate, get a loan for a nice new car.... And then bang, you go bust.

My wiew is, people are going to suffer...They need someone to explain why.
20:03 April 25, 2012 by rabbemos
Whether you are an immigrant or a Swede the opportunities in Sweden for you as a person are often limited compared to the same opportunities in other countries.

1. Doctors in Sweden particularly surgeons are very poorly paid compared to their counterparts in other countries. A few Swedish doctors have told me their American and UK counterparts are much more wealthy than they are.

2. Professionals in general are payed lower in Sweden its part of the competitive advantage of the country.

3. In Sweden your life's gain also would have to be thought of as a gain for your society. People have to have a social and community minded sentiment rather than focusing on just their own earnings if you are going to be content in Sweden....How else could you live with paying 55% in income taxes?

4. As an immigrant to Sweden, before even moving here, knew I would never work in Sweden as the effort is not worth the return on investment in monetary terms so, I set up ways to make money from investments overseas. That is, its hard for an immigrant to get a job, spend 3 years learning Swedish at a professional level, so then I can get a job in a company that pays me much less than my own country...offering limited potential to get to a senior leadership position just by looking at the names and faces of most boards and executive management teams. Like everyone else I want to take the path of least resistance to success..for immigrants that generally is not working at a Swedish company.
16:30 May 8, 2012 by GuidoBandido
"Now a father of three himself, Kulego hopes to see improvements in Sweden in the near future so that his teenage children won't have to face the same obstacles he once did."

I'm guessing his children are American-born, or at least American-raised. In that case, why should he care if his own children find obstacles to face in Sweden? They won't be living there.
03:07 May 11, 2012 by Peter Beck
Mr. Kulego will do just fine here in the states because unlike their European counterparts, our younger generation has no idea what heritage means. Ask any father of teenage daughters. For better or worse, we are much more of a melting pot.
12:21 May 15, 2012 by sweetiepie
I am an Engineer from India. I graduated from a very reputed university in India and have worked in many multinational companies for about 3 to 4 years. I am fluent in English and I am 27 years old. I left my high profile well paid job back in india to join my husband who works here in Sweden. I was very confident that i can find a job here since i am well qualified and have good work experience but the truth is that i am still struggling to find a job here and the only reason i am not getting a job is that i am non-Swedish and not fluent in Swedish. How can i become fluent in just 1 year?? A company in stockholm called me for an interview and i attended 2 rounds of interview with them. they were very much impressed with my education and personality they had mentioned the same in an email to me but they had also mentioned that they were hesitant to give me a job because i am not fluent in Swedish. I have been to many countries USA, Japan etc. I can clearly say one thing Sweden is not as dynamic , as globalized as welcoming as US, Japan or India. In these countries who can be what you are you will not be forced to accept their language or culture. You would be valued for your skills and not based on your nationality or race unlike Sweden. After all the world is for everyone to live. Even the birds don't have any boundaries ,why do humans have??? Sweden must be broad minded and be more welcoming and recognize skilled workers from other countries.
21:08 September 25, 2012 by trumanshow
I have visited libraries, schools, worked at ABF, Bilda, been to banks, estate agents, cultural centres, vardcentralen, dentists, kulturskola...I have NEVER seen someone with dark skin ( I mean of african or asian descent) in a decent job. Ive seen lots of them in Arbetsformedling, migrationsverket, bus stations or at well meaning committees...but not in half-decent jobs. It must be true what the racists say - they aren't as intelligent as 'us'. What ELSE could explain it?
Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available