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Sweden launches new push to get ‘women born outside Europe’ into work

Sweden's labour minister has launched a "special focus" on getting women born outside of Europe into work, ordering a government inquiry to look more broadly at how to better integrate such women socially, culturally, economically, linguistically and democratically.

Sweden launches new push to get 'women born outside Europe' into work
Labour minister Johan Pehrson holds a press conference on labour market integration on Thursday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

According to new labour statistics, 13 percent of women born outside Europe are long-term unemployed in Sweden, compared to just 1.3 percent of women born in Sweden, and 9.2 percent of men born outside Europe. 

“All children should get to see their mother go to work,” labour and integration minister Johan Pehrson said in a press statement. “Today there are far too many women born outside Europe who do not have a job to go to. That’s why the government is reforming labour market and integration policy so that more get into work and contribute to our common life.” 

As part of this, the government has ordered an inquiry launched by the previous Social Democrat government into “improved integration into the labour market for women born abroad” to take a broader look at integrating. 

The supplementary directive requires Marika Lindgren Åsbrink, the Social Democrat politician leading the inquiry, to look at “more clearly including social, cultural, economic, linguistic and democratic integration and adaption”, and include these elements in her final report, which is due on May 31st next year. 

“They have it tougher than anyone,” Pehrson said of women born outside Europe. “We are going to strengthen the goal structure of integration policy, and look at it more broadly, so we know the reason why this group finds it so hard.”

The focus on utomeuropeiskt födda (born outside of Europe) is new in Sweden, where statistics have tended to be broken down into utrikesfödda (born abroad) and inrikesfödda (born in Sweden).

In Denmark, integration policy has focused heavily on ikkevestlige (non-Western) immigrants, and MENAP-indvandrere (immigrants from Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan), or sometimes MENAPT, including Turkey. 

At the press conference, Pehrson showed how the last government had failed to reduce long-term unemployment in Sweden, leading to the unemployment rate in the country to go from one of the lowest in the European Union to one of the highest.

“We have not succeeded in pushing down the long term unemployment rate, despite times being good,” he said.  

He said that the government now planned to reform benefits and labour policy to make sure that unemployed people are more incentivised to get a job, with a stricter “activity requirement” to ensure that those receiving benefits are either spending their time studying, doing volunteer work, or looking for jobs. 

“We are going to strengthen apprentice schemes,” Pehrson added. 

The government also plans to increase education schemes, language schemes and so-called ‘establishment jobs’, a new scheme where employers only need to pay a salary of as low as 8,400 kronor a month, with the government then paying a supplementary benefit of 9,870 kronor a month. 

Member comments

  1. Wouldn’t the total salary of the “establishment jobs” (18,270kr) be lower than the minimum salary SD is also proposing for immigrants (~33,000kr)? Isn’t that inconsistent messaging, or am I not understanding something?

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Sweden’s jobless a cash cow for coaching firms

Private sector job coaching firms are earning double-digit profit margins from taxpayer-funded contracts with Sweden's Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) to help unemployed Swedes back into the workforce.

Sweden's jobless a cash cow for coaching firms

The agency began outsourcing part of its job coaching work to private firms five years ago, and since then several of the major players have earned profits amounting to a quarter of the state funding they receive.

A review by Sveriges Television (SVT) shows that the agency has used a core group of about 20 companies in the past two years. Many of the firms that have the employment agency as their main or sole client also register profit margins of more than 25 percent.

In other words, one krona out of four is turned into profit.

According to SVT’s calculations, the agency has paid its independent contractors 4.7 billion kronor ($72 million) since the initiative to involve private companies began in 2008.

“It sounds high,” agency administrative head Jan-Olof Dahlgren told SVT on Wednesday.

One of the oft-used companies is called Personalstrategerna (“staffing strategists”). One of their former employees, Catrin Hedqvist who worked with job seekers going through different kinds of rehabilitation, says the company itself was often understaffed.

“When I worked for them, we were almost never enough people. And we had too many clients that we were responsible for,” Hedqvist told SVT.

“We were under a lot of pressure.”

Magnus Henrekson, professor at the Stockholm School of Economics (Handelshögskolan), said it was important that the employment agency monitored the performance of its subcontractors.

“The question is, are the buyers keeping on their toes when it comes to making sure they are getting value for money?” he asked SVT.

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