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JOBTALK Seven reasons Swedes should employ immigrants

JOBTALK Seven reasons Swedes should employ immigrants
Foreign-born and second generation job seekers in Sweden often feel they're facing headwind, or a proper hurricane. White-collar trade union TCO, however, thinks the real losers are biased Swedish employers who risk recruiting the wrong person.

"Our members are relatively privileged as they are well-educated," TCO spokesman Gabriel Wernstedt tells The Local. "They have a safety net to fall back on, but sometimes it takes a very long time to get into the labour market."

"Don't give up," he counsels job seekers. "There can be a lot of obstacles but you can make it."

IN PICTURES: See the seven reasons Swedes should employ immigrants

He adds that while all parties on the labour market are well aware that foreign-sounding names are often weeded out before the interview stage, the unions disagree with employers about the root cause.

"Our view is that new arrivals are discriminated, and employers organizations don't see that yet," he says. "They say it's a Swedish-language issue or they avoid people with gaps on their CV, they don't share our analysis about discrimination."

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Last year, TCO published a handbook for recruiters to help them make sure they are not accidentally weeding out the very best person for the job. Wernstedt, who lived in France for many years, says meritocracy is much more valued abroad (even though elitism of course widely prevails).

Sweden could learn from other countries, he says, not less because foreign-born talent could "good and cheap access to new markets". Rather than employ agents on the ground in new markets, you have in-house competence.

"Otherwise we won't secure economic growth because we risk doing bad business."

Ann Törnkvist

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