“Swedish society is changing, it’s becoming more diversified, and this is reflected in the state sector,” Lars Andrén, head of communications at Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket), told The Local.
The agency revealed on Tuesday that 24 percent of workers hired by public sector agencies last year were either born outside of Sweden, or had foreign-born parents. Most of the new workers were employed in the social sectors, such the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) and Sweden’s Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen).
The increase means that 7,400 foreigners joined the public sector’s workforce in 2012, marking a 2.5-percent increase since 2011. Andrén puts the change down to more foreigners completing Swedish university programmes.
“One explanation is probably that the percentage of people with a foreign background is increasing at universities, and Sweden’s state sector is the one with the highest level of highly educated employees,” he said.
“That means there is a wider range of people from which we were able to recruit.”
This analysis was reflected by the fact that it was mostly younger foreigners who were employed. While just over 40 percent of total employees were between the ages of 25 and 34, this figure was 52.2 percent for foreigners.
Currently, Sweden’s public sector boasts 36,000 foreigners on the payroll, or roughly 15 percent of all employees. The continuing increase in foreign-born workers was welcomed by the agency.
“We think having diverse backgrounds is beneficial for our effectiveness, especially as we get a different perspective on the way we operate,” Andrén told The Local.
“It’s important to represent the society in general, and our employees are representatives of how the society is changing. We think that’s important.”