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Sweden to boost job-matching programme for new arrivals

Sweden is injecting a further 170 million kronor ($21.22 million) into a programme focused on matching newly arrived immigrants with jobs requiring their specific skills and competences.

Sweden to boost job-matching programme for new arrivals
In one of the projects, 73 of 176 people were hired after taking part in the scheme. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

The scheme, which is overseen by Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, was launched in 2017 with the purpose of not only helping migrants into the labour market, but to capitalize on people's special skills.

In one of the projects, run by staffing company Randstad and its subsidiary Antenn, 73 of a total of 176 newly arrived immigrants were hired after taking part in their programme, during which participants also received help with writing job applications and to prepare for job interviews according to a specific model.

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Thursday's government decision means that a further 170 million kronor will be injected into the scheme spread over a three-year period. The programme also covers trainee projects, mentor programmes for entrepreneurs, and other training to perfect the job-seekers' profiles.

Mohamed Nour Kaeid, who arrived in Sweden from Syria in 2014, told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter about how he found a job thanks to the scheme.

“At first I thought that it was fake, that the staffing companies didn't tell the truth, but I thought I would give it a try anyway,” he said, describing how he landed a job with truck-maker Scania after first undergoing language and motivational tests at Randstad and then receiving coaching to prepare for potential job interviews.

“I chose the right way to go. I received a lot of help from the staffing company to prepare for this and I'm very happy to be working as a fitter here today,” he was quoted as saying.

Sweden's overall unemployment rate stood at 7.4 percent in January, down from 7.8 percent at the same time last year. Although there is still a significant unemployment gap between native Swedes and foreign-born job seekers, the numbers seem to be improving with more and more foreigners finding employment in Sweden. In January, 21.0 percent of foreign-born people in Sweden were registered as unemployed, down by 1.2 percentage units in one year.

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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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