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ELECTIONS 2014

EDUCATION

Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes

Social Democrat party leader Stefan Löfven announced on Friday his "most important election promise", a 90-day job guarantee programme for young Swedes.

Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

"The 90-day guarantee is the most important part of our campaign," Löfven stated on Friday. "It's a future reform which will give young people hope for the future."

The scheme, which carries a price tag of 6 billion kronor ($863 million), would create 50,000 new jobs and internship positions, the party leader said.

Löfven presented statistics showing that Sweden's youth unemployment rates were significantly higher than those of its neighbours, at 23.9 percent for those between ages 15 and 24, compared with just 12.4 percent in Denmark.

With the primary goal of changing these numbers, the party announced that it wanted to make Sweden the EU country with the lowest unemployment rates in 2020.

"The government's ineffective tax reductions, and cuts to both high schools and vocational programmes, have obviously not worked," the party wrote in a campaign statement, saying that a new plan was needed.

The youth job guarantee is the key factor of the plan, and Löfven said that all young Swedes involved would be "matched" to a job, internship, or educational programme within 90 days. 

Young Swedes taking part in the programme would first be required to get a high school diploma, if lacking. The Social Democrats would "develop the education system"  to open up 13,000 additional education spots, 32,000 trainee jobs within the public sector, and 5,000 jobs and internships in the private sector.

Investments in infrastructure and housing would also be an essential part of the strategy. 

The party announced that the 90-day job guarantee would be its "first decision in government" – although the Alliance has pointed the finger at the Social Democrats for not even knowing what their government would look like.

Finance Minister Anders Borg dismissed Löfven's proposal on Friday, saying that the programme was a dead-end.

The Social Democrats are just going to expand Phase 3," he told news agency TT. "They offer courses and internship positions. So you go from course to position to course and in the end the only way out is to enter Phase 3. So the Social Democrats will expand Phase 3 and that will be the end of their employment guarantee."

Phase 3 (Fas 3) is the third part of the jobs and development guarantee policy which the current centre-right Alliance government introduced in 2007. Through this scheme, companies are paid by the state to assign tasks to long-term unemployed people.

However, the scheme caused conflict among politicians and employers, as its rules were designed so that phase 3 participants were given tasks that would otherwise not have been carried out.

In May this year Löfven stated that he would "free everyone from Phase 3, young and old", slamming the Alliance's "mock solution" to long-term unemployment.

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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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