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‘Stockholm rioters could be a labour asset’

The head of Sweden's Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) has said Swedish employers need to be more open-minded in their recruitment, choosing to joke about the organizational skills of vandals during the recent Stockholm riots.

'Stockholm rioters could be a labour asset'

Agency chief Angeles Bermudez-Svankvist made her comments on Thursday at The Economist’s Digital Horizons Conference in Stockholm

She first addressed her own previous work in health care, adding that in retrospect she felt that employers in Sweden need not always demand perfect Swedish from their would-be staff.

“If you are a brain surgeon, do you need perfect Swedish when you are operating on someone who is sedated?” she asked the audience rhetorically.

Bermudez-Svankvist decided to continue her talk about seeing hidden competences also among young people – of whom one in four is not in work – by referring to the string of vandalism across Stockholm in May, after unrest in the suburb Husby spread.

“These revolutionary acts, because we are talking about revolution aren’t we?” she joked about the title of the debate, Workforce Revolution, which looked at how digital technology could help employers and jobseekers find each other.

“These acts show organizational skills, these are people who follow a leader,” she said about the arson attacks on buildings and cars that grabbed headline space across the world.

Bermudez-Svankvist also pointed out that there was a working-condition like aspect to why some young people end up engaging in crime.

“Those leaders ’employ’ you even if you’re young, they even take you out for coffee,” she said.

Sweden has long been at loss over how to tackle youth unemployment, with a string of governments looking at various solutions. There has been discussion about the price of labour, while both the centre-right government and the left-leaning opposition have signaled their interest in mimicking successful apprenticeships schemes from other countries.

While Sweden is doing well compared to, for example, crisis-hit Spain where youth unemployment is 40 percent, Swedish youths are much more likely to be out of work than their older peers.

“Unemployment among the under 24s in Sweden is 24.2 percent, or four times the average unemployment rate of 8 percent,” the UN stated in a recent roundup of western European labour markets.

Ann Törnkvist

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SHOOTING

Officer slams police over Husby shooting

A police officer who was present when a colleague shot dead a 69-year-old man in Husby in Stockholm in May, sparking days of riots, has stated that the incident "contradicted everything the police stand for".

Officer slams police over Husby shooting

“The police must protect, help and put things right. In this case it was the opposite,” the police, named in the Swedish media as Martin Marmgren, wrote on his blog.

The man stresses that he does not want to blame any person, neither in the patrol nor in operational command.

“There has been an internal investigation, which concluded that the fatal shot was fired in self-defence and no individual police officer is suspected of any crime. But, and this is the difference, I believe that the police as an organization carries a great debt as we were unable to handle the situation without someone dying,” Marmgren wrote.

The officer noted that the 69-year-old man was armed with a large knife. While he believes that “the police had full control of how we chose to approach the situation regarding tactics, the means and the tools.”

“Then the result should not have been so devastating,” he argued.

The shooting, which occurred on May 13th 2013 has been blamed for having provoked days of violent rioting which broke out in the suburb of Husby a few days later. The unrest later spread to other locations in the Stockholm area.

TT/The Local/pvs

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