• Sweden's news in English
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
The city of Stockholm. Photo: Björn Olin/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future

The Local · 30 Jan 2015, 14:55

Published: 30 Jan 2015 14:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Back in 1981, one of Sweden's first rock stars recorded a song named after the country's capital. It went something like this:

Stockholm, Stockholm, stad i världen
Stockholm, Stockholm, världens stad
Stockholm, Stockholm, härlig är den
Stockholm, Stockholm, gör mej glad.

Roughly translated, ’Stockholm is a city of the world, it’s wonderful, and it makes me happy’.

It was a hit.

It was also the theme of a seminar and panel discussion that took place on Friday at the Bazaren job fair, one of Sweden’s largest.

Representatives from municipal and county governments joined speakers from academia and local companies to discuss a topic close to everyone’s hearts: what is the future of Stockholm and its labour market?

“Stockholm is the growth engine of Sweden,” event host Mats Hedenström from the Stockholm County Administrative Board told the audience.

“The city accounts for an entire third of Sweden’s growth.”

But as well-positioned as the city may be, the country nevertheless faces several challenges, many related to population growth expected to add 1.3 million new residents in the next 20 years.

“If we look at the trends we can see that Sweden will have a population of 10.9 million by 2035,” Karin Grunewald from Sweden’s statistics agency (SCB) explained.

While a growing population presents certain opportunities, it can also create imbalances in the labour market, as jobs agency analyst Julia Asplund pointed out.

“We will see a shortage of healthcare professionals and teachers,” she noted, despite that the number of jobs available in Stockholm is expected to increase by 21,500 this year.

In order to meet increased demand for healthcare professionals in Sweden, and in Stockholm in particular, immigration is seen as a source of workers with the right competencies.

Moreover, immigration is expected to account for most of Sweden’s population growth over the next two decades, SCB’s Grunewald explained, at the same time as the country’s labour force is aging.

“Up to 70 percent of the labour force today is over age 45,” Grunewald said. ”We need a surplus of immigration, or we will have a shortage of doctors, despite the efforts that have been made to increase education.”

Asplund from the jobs agency agreed.

”Immigrants are totally necessary for the healthcare sector,” she said.

However, taking advantage of Sweden’s educated immigrant population is not always as simple as it appears.

“It needs to be easier to obtain a Swedish nursing license,” Asplund added.

 And the problem is not limited to the healthcare sector, as Ola Törnros from app maker Soft Solutions Partner explained.

“I had a colleague from Pakistan who had finished his degree here in Sweden, and then found out it would be 14 to 18 months before he could even get a work permit,” he said.

“It’s vital for our company that our employees come from all around the world,” he added. “I am the only Swede at the office in Västerås. My boss is from Congo. You have to be able to adapt and create products in a global context.”

But challenges arise when foreign recruits struggle to even stay legally in Sweden, he added.

Read also: Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs

“If you offer someone an immediate position in Silicon Valley or a job in 14 months in Sweden, what are they going to choose?” Törnros prompted the audience.

But one of the largest issues making life difficult for foreign professionals, according to Stockholm Business Region CEO Olle Zetterberg, is the Swedish capital’s housing crisis.

“We have to make it easier to move here,” Zetterberg said. “The housing issue is at the very top of the list of hindrances.”

Susanna Jansson, analyst from Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth), confirmed that housing is a common obstacle to growth, but said that a broader perspective is necessary. 

"This is an issue which affects more than just education, infrastructure, or housing," Jansson said. "We have to find methods for public agencies and private companies to work together to lower the threshold for integration."

Sergels torg, and Kulturhuset, where the event was held. Photo: Shutterstock

In short, positioning Stockholm as a magnet for talented foreign professionals is no easy task. But despite the challenges, the panelists and seminar attendees appeared to agree on one thing: immigration is critical.

“Diversity is a foundation,” Johan Rosenblom, country manager of Starbucks operations in Sweden, remarked.

“It’s a value that must be built into the company itself. Diversity, tying together many nationalities and cultures into one company, is one of the keys to success.”

This also means, the panelists agreed, that Sweden must get better at welcoming immigrants and making use of the talents of those who are already in Sweden.

“There are plenty of Syrians here who have more education than Swedes. And we’re complaining about it,” Törnros exclaimed incredulously.

Emilia Bjuggren, labour council chairman Stockholm City, agreed.

“We have a shortage of certain professions, and we have to make it easier to validate immigrants’ education,” she said. “We also must develop SFX courses, specialized Swedish courses for certain professions, in place of SFI.”

While no specific proposals emerged from the event, there appeared to be a consensus among panelists and audience members about the challenges ahead.

Stockholm may be a beautiful city – but if it wants to truly be a city of the world, as the old song shouts so proudly, there is still plenty of work to do. The city cannot celebrate its growth unless its inhabitants, new and old, are welcomed into society and the labour market alike.

Or as Törnros put it:

”We must start viewing each and every immigrant as a unique person.”

This article was sponsored by Verksamt.se and produced by The Local.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available