Fewer foreign graduates stay in Sweden to work

Fewer foreign graduates stay in Sweden to work
A workplace in Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
The number of non-EU graduates pursuing careers in Sweden after they finish their university studies has dropped sharply in the past years, according to figures by the Migration Agency.

Two years ago Sweden introduced new rules giving students from countries outside the European Union permission to stay another six months after their studies to apply for jobs and work permits, a move designed to retain more skilled foreign workers.

But a report by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper published on Tuesday suggests the measure may have failed.

In 2013, a total of 849 work permits were handed out to non-EU citizens finding employment after graduating from university in Sweden, according to Migration Agency statistics cited by DN. Two years later it had dropped to 419. At the end of July this year, the figure stood at 212.

“It is very unfortunate that it has not changed because there is great demand for the skills these students have,” Amelie von Zweigbergk, who represents the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries (Teknikföretagen), told the newspaper.

More than 9,000 students from non-EU/EEA countries were enrolled at Swedish universities in 2015.

“I've been to an interview, and I've been told that my CV is interesting. I think the biggest problem is that I am not Swedish and don't speak very good Swedish,” Mexican student Jorge Mucino, who recently graduated from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, told DN.

The Local has previously written about the struggle faced by many foreign workers and graduates to find work in Sweden. Labour Minister Ylva Johansson pinned part of the problem on “discrimination” in an interview with The Local Voices – a site which gives a fresh voice to newcomers – earlier this year.

Representatives from Sweden's Confederation of Professional Associations (Saco), an organization promoting and supporting unions made up of various professions, last month urged employers to drop the need for perfect Swedish when filling jobs.

“A lack of high language ability should not weed out otherwise high-performing people,” they wrote in an opinion piece translated by The Local and first published by Sydsvenskan.

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