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Young Swedes swarm Norway labour market

A fifth of all young people working in Oslo are now Swedish, drawn across the border by the promise of higher salaries, show new figures from Oslo University that testify to a twenty-fold increase in young Swedish labour in two decades.

Young Swedes swarm Norway labour market

The university’s Frisch Centre reported that there were now roughly 28,000 Swedes aged between 17 and 25 working in Norway, primarily in restaurants, hotels, and clothes shops – a twenty-fold increase on the 1,300 working in the country in 1990.

“Norwegian and Swedish youth are quite similar and compete for the same jobs,” Bernt Bratsbeg, a senior researcher at Frischsenteret, told Aftenposten newspaper.

“When the number of Swedes increases so strongly, it becomes more difficult for Norwegian youth to find part-time jobs and summer jobs.”

Alexander Gustavsen, the head of operations for Deli de Luca, a chain of cafés and convenience stores, said many of the chain’s franchise owners prefer Swedes. “They work hard, are reliable and are only here to work,” Gustavsen told Aftenposten newspaper.

The Local reported last year that such was the allure of the Norwegian job market, whereas Sweden battles entrenched youth unemployment, that Söderhamn municipality decided to pay its young residents to head over the border.

More than 100 young people from Söderhamn, located about 250 kilometres north of Stockholm, had at the time already left the town of about 12,000 residents to seek their fortunes in Norway, according to a report by Sveriges Radio (SR).

Söderhamn resident Andreas Larsson had been out of work for two years before taking advantage of the programme, organized with Sweden’s employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen, and found work as a truck driver in Oslo.

“I came here on a Thursday and had a job by Monday morning. It went that fast. It felt almost unreal, like I’d come to the promised land,” he told SR.

(Arbetsförmedlingen), offers unemployed young people a month-long preparation course, paid transit to Oslo, as well as a month of free accommodation in the Norwegian capital.

Once in Norway, the jobless young Swedes also receive help from job coaches from Nordjobb, a service that arranges jobs for young people in the Nordic countries.

Mohamed Chabchoub, head of the local employment office in Söderhamn, defended the programme, explaining that it was in-line with the employment service’s mission.

“We’re not sending them away; we’re helping them take a step forward and to have a richer experience,” he told the broadcaster.

Richard Orange/The Local/at

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”

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