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Internship scheme helping Sweden’s international residents land jobs

University educated but struggling to get your foot on Sweden’s employment ladder? A government-backed internship programme is enabling academics to make use of their skills and helping 7 out of 10 participants land permanent jobs. The Local finds out more.

Internship scheme helping Sweden’s international residents land jobs
Syrian civil engineer Mohammad Homsy. Photo: Jobbsprånget

Syrian civil engineer Mohammad Homsy moved to Sweden two years ago to join his family who had immigrated to southern Sweden. With a BSc in engineering management and construction, he had worked as a manager on numerous projects in the UAE before moving to Scandinavia. 

Like many expats, Homsy made it his business to learn Swedish and enrolled in a Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) course. When he was confident in the language, the engineer, who is fluent in English as well as his native Arabic, was eager to get back into the workforce.

However, he found that just picking up where he left off in his career was no easy task. That was when he heard about Jobbsprånget, a nationwide internship programme targeted towards academics with degrees in engineering, architecture, science, or business/finance.

“There is an active Facebook group for engineers and people were talking about the programme. It has a good reputation so I decided to apply and got an internship with a Swedish company,” Homsy tells The Local.  

Click the banner below to apply for Jobbsprånget's next round of internships

Homsy completed his internship with construction firm Byggmästar´n i Skåne AB and says he was challenged to prove himself during his four-month stint. 

“The internship was in two parts: one at the office and one on site. I was given general tasks from all activities and got involved with many details and elements of the work. My supervisor was very helpful and gave me the chance to show what I could do.” 

Jobbsprånget has a 70 percent employment rate after completion of the four month programme. It significantly reduces the time it takes for newcomers to land a job in Sweden, which can otherwise take between 3-7 years. Applicants don't need to speak Swedish as the programme language is in English, but do need to be registered at Arbetsförmedlingen, the Swedish Public Employment Service. You can read more about the requirements for application here.

Homsy says you get back what you put into the internship. 

“Four months is enough time to prove yourself and make things happen. But you have to ask afterwards if there is potential for a job; you have to fight for it! I got positive feedback and established good contacts as a result of doing the programme.” 

Homsy is among the 7 out of 10 participants who find employment after the internship. He is presently employed with Byggmästar´n i Skåne AB as a work supervisor.   

Non-European English-speaking graduates, who have recently arrived in Sweden and are looking for work, are a priority group for Jobbsprånget, which first launched in 2016.

Companies that are collaborating with Jobbsprånget include Volvo Group, SKF and Unilever. A total of 150 employers are participating in the programme at 50 different locations all across Sweden. 

Key to the programme’s success is giving academics a chance to demonstrate their potential in a variety of environments. Newcomers to Sweden will get introduced to the domestic labour market and get relevant experience in their area of competence as well as make valuable contacts. 

Click here to apply for Jobbsprånget

Another success story is Manasa Rao who moved to Stockholm three years ago with her husband. The Indian native had worked in finance previously and wanted to resume her career in Sweden. 

“I realised for my profile (finance), an internship is the best way to enter the job market and this was the only programme that provided multiple opportunities in one place,” she tells The Local. 

Rao carried out her internship at Zurich Insurance and says that her four months there went better than she expected. 

“It was very ideal by all means. Zurich was very open to me and provided opportunities to learn and contribute. Not only did they help me grow in knowledge, but they also made me feel competent. It exceeded my expectations for an internship!” she says enthusiastically. 

Rao has since taken up a permanent position as an accountant with Zurich Insurance. She says that there are stark differences in work culture between Sweden and India. 

“I previously worked for a custodian bank in India for more than five years. The Swedish work environment is not hierarchical, no cut throat competition, more straightforward work culture and a good work/life balance.” 

With backing from the Wallenberg foundations and the Swedish government, Jobbsprånget comes with solid credentials. Both Hamsy and Rao are testament to the programme’s success and they are adamant that Jobbsprånget put them on the path to a Swedish career. 

“You are not the same after doing the programme as you learn about how Swedish society works. You develop new skills. I would recommend Jobbsprånget as it gives you a chance. Just work hard,” advises engineer Hamsy. 

Accountant Rao concludes, “You get multiple opportunities for English-speaking expats in one place, a good networking opportunity and fast track to the jobs market in Sweden. Networking is important and I gained my confidence back after a two-year job search in Stockholm.”

The next application process for Jobbsprånget opens on December 16th and runs until January 16th 2020. Click here to apply.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Jobbsprånget.

 
For members

WORK PERMITS

How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

It can now take about six months to get a work permit in Sweden, and a year for an extension. Here's how you can get on the fast track.

How foreigners can get on the fast track for a work permit in Sweden

How long does it normally take to get a permit to work in Sweden? 

According to the calculator on the Migration Agency’s website, 75 percent of first work permit applications are completed within three months, and 75 percent of work permit extensions are completed within 14 months. 

These numbers, though, are only for people in non-risk industries. If you are applying for a job in the cleaning, building, hotel and restaurant, or car repair industries — all of which are seen as high risk by the agency — applications can take much longer to be approved. 

For these industries, the calculator suggests a long 12-month wait for a first application and a 17-month wait for an extension. 

This is because of the higher number of unscrupulous employers in these industries who do not pay foreign workers their promised salaries, or do not fulfil other requirements in their work permit applications, such as offering adequate insurance and other benefits. 

So how do you get on the fast track for a permit? 

There are two ways to get your permit more rapidly: the so-called “certified process” and the EU’s Blue Card scheme for highly skilled employees. 

What is the certified process?

The certified process was brought in back in 2011 by the Moderate-led Alliance government to help reduce the then 12-month wait for work permits.

Under the process, bigger, more reputable Swedish companies and trusted intermediaries handling other applications for clients, such as the major international accounting firms, can become so-called “certified operators”, putting the work permit applications they handle for employees on a fast track, with much quicker processing times. 

The certified operator or the certified intermediary is then responsible for making sure applications are ‘ready for decision’, meaning the agency does not need to spend as much time on them. 
You can find answers to the most common questions about the certified process on the Migration Agency’s website

How much quicker can a decision be under the certified process? 
Under the agreement between certified employers and the Migration Agency, it should take just two weeks to process a fresh work permit application, and four weeks to get an extension. 
Unfortunately, the agency is currently taking much longer: between one and three months for a fresh application, and around five to six months for an extension. 
This is still roughly half the time it takes for an employee seeking a permit outside the certified process. 
The Migration Agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in a recent article that in September the average decision had taken 105 days, while over the year as a whole, applications for certified companies had taken 46 days, and those for non-certified companies 120 days. 

How can someone planning to move to Sweden for work take advantage of the certified process? 
Unfortunately, it is very much up to your employer. If you are planning to move to Sweden for work, you should make sure to ask prospective employers if they are certified, or sub-certified through an intermediary firm, and take that into account when deciding which company to take a job with. 
Smaller IT companies are often not certified, as they tend to start off by recruiting from within Sweden or the European Union. 
If you have begun a work permit application with a company that is not certified or sub-certified, then you cannot get onto the fast track even if your employer gets certified while you are waiting for a decision. 
The certified process can also not be used to get a work permit for an employee of a multinational company who is moving to the Swedish office from an office in another country. 
If my employer is certified, what do I need to do?
You will need to sign a document giving power of attorney to the person at your new company who is handling the application, both on behalf of yourself and of any family members you want to bring to Sweden.  
You should also double check the expiry date on your passport and on those of your dependents, and if necessary applying for a new passport before applying, as you can only receive a work permit for the length of time for which you have a valid passport. 

Which companies are certified? 
Initially, only around 20 companies were certified, in recent years the Migration Agency has opened up the scheme to make it easier for companies to get certified, meaning there are now about 100 companies directly certified, and many more sub-certified. 
To get certified, a company needs to have handled at least ten work permit applications for foreign employees over the past 18 months (there are exceptions for startups), and also to have a record of meeting the demands for work and residency permits.  
The company also needs to have a recurring need to hire from outside the EU, with at least ten applications expected a year. 
The Migration Agency is reluctant to certify or sub-certify companies working in industries where it judges there is a high risk of non-compliance with the terms of work permits, such as the building industry, the hotel and restaurant industry, the retail industry, and agriculture and forestry. 
Most of the bigger Swedish firms that rely on foreign expertise, for example Ericsson, are certified. 
The biggest intermediaries through whom companies can become sub-certified are the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and Vialto (a spin-off from PwC), and the specialist relocation firms Human Entrance, and Alpha Relocation. Bråthe estimates that these six together control around 60 percent of the market. Other players include K2 Corporate Mobility, Key Relocation, Nordic Relocation, and some of the big corporate law firms operating in Sweden, such as Ving and Bird & Bird. 

What is the EU Blue Card, how can I get one, and how can it help speed up the work permit process? 
Sweden’s relatively liberal system for work permits, together with the certification system, has meant that in recent years there has been scant demand for the EU Blue Card. 
The idea for the Blue Card originally sprung from the Brussels think-tank Bruegel, and was written into EU law in August 2012. The idea was to mimic the US system of granting workers a card giving full employment rights and expedited permanent residency. Unlike with the US Green Card, applicants must earn a salary that is at least 1.5 times as high as the average in the country where they are applying.
Germany is by far the largest granter of EU blue cards, divvying out nearly 90 percent of the coveted cards, followed by France (3.6 percent), Poland (3.2 percent) and Luxembourg (3 percent).

How can I qualify for a Blue Card?

The card is granted to anyone who has an accredited university degree (you need 180 university credits or högskolepoäng in Sweden’s system), and you need to be offered a job paying at least one and a half times the average Swedish salary (about 55,000 kronor a month).

How long does a blue card take to get after application in Sweden? 

According to the Migration Agency, a Blue Card application is always handled within 90 days, with the card then sent to the embassy or consulate named in the application.

In Sweden ,it is only really worth applying for a Blue Card if you are applying to work at a company that is not certified and are facing a long processing time.

EU Blue Cards are issued for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. 

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