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Election Q&A: How do you want to decrease unemployment among foreigners?

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Election Q&A: How do you want to decrease unemployment among foreigners?
The Swedish Public Employment Agency. A familiar sight to many job hunters. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
18:06 CEST+02:00
The Local asked Sweden's eight parties to answer a number of questions relevant to internationals living and working in Sweden.

There is a significant gap in unemployment between native Swedes and foreign-born workers. Even skilled international job hunters report that it can be difficult to break into the Swedish labour market.

We asked the parties: How do you want to decrease unemployment among foreign-born residents in Sweden? Do you believe that foreigners are being discriminated against in the jobs market?

Click here to read more questions and answers that matter to YOU.

The Social Democrat Party

"Yes, there is discrimination. More foreign-born people are entering the labour market at a faster rate. For some groups it is now taking half the time to get a job. In the Swedish labour market it is important to learn Swedish and to have an education. That's why the Social Democrats want to boost opportunities for education so that more people can get and keep a job. It is also important to increase knowledge and work through the attitudes of the country's employers. We as Social Democrats strongly believe in the power of positive examples."


The Social Democrats are Sweden's biggest party and part of the centre-left coalition government. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Moderate Party

"Those who have recently come to our country have to quickly get into work and be able to support themselves. We then have to have stronger incentives to work. That's why the Moderates will cut taxes for everyone who works, and in particular for those on lower incomes. We also want a benefit ceiling, so that total benefits are never higher than the salary for a real job. By introducing entry-level jobs – a kind of apprenticeship – we want to give more new arrivals the opportunity to get their first job."

"The fact that discrimination occurs in the labour market is well established, but at the same time, studies show that the fact that foreign-born people work to a lesser extent [than native-born Swedes] is primarily due to a difference in skills and language skills."


The Moderates are Sweden's second-biggest party and part of the right-wing bloc. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The Sweden Democrat Party 

"We do not think structural discrimination exists in the labour market, however there may be individual cases. The Sweden Democrats have no special solutions for foreign-born residents; the same rules apply to them as to everyone else in Sweden, i.e. get an education and make yourself attractive in the labour market."


The Sweden Democrats are Sweden's third biggest party and run on an anti-immigration platform. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Green Party 

"The time taken to get established on the Swedish labour market has decreased, it has almost halved since 2007, thanks to shrinking unemployment figures and good government policies."

"The Arbetsförmedling – the Swedish public employment service – is focusing its efforts to help those farthest from the labour market to find work. Discrimination is a problem on the Swedish labour market, rules and regulations exist to rectify this problem but an important aspect is stronger norms among companies hiring. The Equality Ombudsman (DO) is a government agency that works on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government to promote equal rights and opportunities and to combat discrimination. There are a number of different educational routes, vocational training and work support programs to help foreigners to improve their skill sets and make it easier for them to find work. Establishment jobs is one such reform that the government has introduced. While on the job it is possible to continue study SFI and other suitable vocational training with the agreement of the employer."

 


The Green Party is part of Sweden's centre-left coalition government. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The Centre Party

"Discrimination occurs and needs to be eliminated. Yet discrimination is not necessarily the biggest hurdle for foreign-born residents to enter the labour market. The greatest challenge is to make people who haven’t previously held a job in Sweden more attractive on the labour market. The thresholds to entering the labour market need to be lowered and the costs of hiring must be reduced."

"The Centre Party, together with the other parties in the "Alliance" (Moderates, Liberals, Christian Democrats) have jointly proposed the introduction of (a new form of) entry-level jobs. The entry-level jobs is a new employment form which means that new arrivals, as well as youths who don’t hold a high school diploma, are given the opportunity to take a job with 70 percent of the normal starting salary, while the employer is relieved from paying any social fees. The employment is valid for a maximum of three years."

"Running a business is a way for many to establish themselves in Sweden."

"We also want to move the responsibility of establishment from the Swedish Public Employment Service to the municipalities and civic society to get a more functioning establishment in place with stronger ties to the local labour market."

"It’s also important that foreign-borns quickly can get access to the right education. Both higher education for those that need it, but also vocational and complementary programmes."


The Centre Party is part of the centre-right bloc in parliament. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The Left Party

"The most important step to reduce unemployment among foreign-born Swedes is to reduce overall unemployment – we need policies for full employment. That's why our economic policy focuses on increasing employment in the private as well as public sector by investing in housing construction, green infrastructure and more employees in the welfare sector."

"Education is key to entering the Swedish labour market. Investment in qualification programmes is therefore important, but it is not good enough. We are strongly against all proposals for lower starting salaries for new arrivals."

"Today, one in five foreign-born residents is in insecure employment. Discrimination against foreign residents has been well surveyed. So-called correspondence tests – where you send off two identical job applications where only the name is different – effectively demonstrate how discrimination works when it comes to hiring."

"The results of such tests in Sweden are frightening. All in all, a person with a Swedish-sounding name has a 50 percent greater chance of being called for an interview than a person with a name from the Middle East or North Africa. In some studies, this difference is 100 percent. Anonymized application procedures are one way of dealing with this problem, but it is not enough. It also has to cost more to discriminate, with harsher punishment for those employers who do discriminate. In order to really get to grips with discrimination, systematic and long-term work is needed. The Left Party wants to appoint a crisis commission against discrimination that will take advantage of extensive academic knowledge of issues of discrimination and occupational safety and formulate specific and foresighted policies."


The Left Party is part of the left-wing bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Liberal Party

Foreign-born people are today affected by discrimination and the structural problems in the Swedish labour market. The biggest problem with the Swedish labour market is that the thresholds are too high. A Swedish secondary-school diploma is often required today to get your first job. That hits many new arrivals very hard, especially those with low education. It has to be cheaper and easier to hire and more basic jobs are needed. Then more new arrivals can get their first job, their own salary and more freedom.


The Liberals are part of the centre-right bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Christian Democrat Party

"The Swedish language is key to integrating into Swedish society. Through language, everyone is handed knowledge of common rights, duties and opportunities. Quality teaching in Swedish is therefore crucial for the individual and benefits society overall. We want to implement attendance requirements for Swedish courses from day one, and include information about society with a focus on laws and values, combined with a requirement to be available for work. We know that discrimination exists and this shall not be tolerated. This is very important."


The Christian Democrats are part of the right-wing bloc in parliament. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

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