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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: kompetensutvisning

Here's a word that many internationals in Sweden probably wish was totally unnecessary.

Swedish word of the day: kompetensutvisning
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Kompetensutvisning literally means ‘skill/competence deportation’, and refers to the phenomenon of the Swedish Migration Agency ordering foreign workers to leave the country.

It is most often used in cases where the person in question is highly qualified and moved to Sweden to work in an in-demand sector such as technology or IT, before later being ordered to leave due to a minor error in their work permit paperwork. This happens a lot more often that you might think, due to laws which were introduced to clamp down on exploitation of foreign workers but which have ended up being close to impossible to follow to the letter.

The term kompetensutvisning was coined by newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in 2017 to highlight the absurdity of Sweden’s efforts to attract more international talent while at the same time making it difficult for these people to stay in the country.

Because it’s hard to give a concise English translation, the word kompetensutvisning is often used by English speakers in Sweden too. 

But the word itself has generated some controversy.

Some have argued that the term suggests that Swedes view foreigners first and foremost in terms of the benefit they can bring to Sweden, focusing on the potential damage to the Swedish economy rather than the personal cost to those affected.

Kompetensutvisningar are most likely to happen when people apply for a work permit renewal, meaning they will have spent at least three years in Sweden and possibly more if they initially moved to the country on a different kind of visa, for example to study or join a Swedish partner. This means many of those affected have put down roots, made friendships and learned the language.

In 2017, more than 1,500 people had their work permit extensions rejected. It’s not possible to say how many rejections were due to minor errors, but the number is well over double the figures for the previous four years. And despite changes to legislation aimed at curbing the problem, employees and entrepreneurs are still being told to leave Sweden due to minor errors.

FOR MEMBERS: Everything you need to know about why Sweden’s deportations of foreign workers

Examples

Kompetensutvisningar är ett växande problem

The deportation of skilled workers is a growing problem

Sverige har inte råd med kompetensutvisningar

Sweden can’t afford to deport skilled foreign workers

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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For members

SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Love them or hate them, foppatofflor are unexpectedly coming back in to fashion. But what are they, and how did they get their Swedish name?

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Foppatoffla – foppatofflor in plural – is the Swedish term for Crocs – plastic sandals or clogs which first became popular in the early 2000s.

The word foppatoffla is made up of two words. The first is foppa, which is the nickname of one of Sweden’s most successful ice hockey players, Peter Forsberg. The second half of the word is toffla, the Swedish word for “sandal”.

Foppatofflor, the Swedish term for Crocs. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix/TT

So, what does a famous Swedish ice hockey player have to do with plastic clogs?

The story begins in the early 2000s, when Forsberg was recovering from a foot injury sustained playing professional ice hockey. When looking for a shoe comfortable enough for him to wear without exacerbating his injury, he came across Crocs, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic.

Recognising the shoes’ potential, Forsberg became an early investor, securing the sole rights to distribute Crocs in Sweden through his company Forspro. But Forsberg didn’t just invest in the shoes, he also appeared in adverts for them, leading Swedes to start referring to the shoes as foppatofflor.

By 2010, sales of foppatofflor were dwindling, so Forsberg shut down Forspro to focus on other investments – but not before the name had stuck.

Peter “Foppa” Forsberg. The man you can thank (or despise) for introducing Crocs to Sweden. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The shoes are still popular as ergonomic and hygienic work shoes, particularly in the healthcare sector, although they were briefly banned in some Swedish hospitals on suspicion of causing a build-up of static electricity which disrupted hospital machinery.

They may also be coming back into fashion, gracing the Oscars red carpet and the Instagram feeds of musicians such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams in the last few years.

So, love them or hate them, foppatofflor seem to be here to stay. Now you know what word to use if you decide to pick up a pair for yourself this summer.

Example sentences:

Jag har precis köpt nya foppatofflor till barnen – de är ju så praktiska!

I’ve just bought new Crocs for the kids – they’re so practical!

Gud, är foppatofflor verkligen trendiga nu? Bra att jag har kvar mina från 00-talet!

God, are Crocs really trendy now? Good job I kept mine from the noughties!

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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