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Jobs agency tapped for greater integration role

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07:58 CET+01:00
The Swedish agency primarily tasked with helping unemployed people find jobs will assume a greater responsibility for implementing Sweden’s integration policies, according to a new government proposal.

The bill, to be presented on Thursday, comes despite a new study showing the Sweden’s National Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) has so far failed in its efforts to assist newly arrived immigrants.

Government officials speak about the proposal as marking a systemic shift in Swedish integration policy, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

To a large extent, the proposal entails the state, via Arbetsförmedlingen, taking over much of the responsibility which currently rests with Sweden’s 290 municipalities.

The government believes it’s important to get immigrants into the job market, something which it hopes will happen more effectively with assistance from the employment agency in the form of coaching and training.

The proposal calls for the assistance to be offered as soon as an immigrant is granted residency in Sweden.

But an investigation carried out by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), an association which represents the country's municipalities, gives Arbetsförmedlingen a failing grade when it comes to the efforts made so far on behalf of immigrants.

The study, which is also to be presented on Thursday, shows that nine of ten newly arrived immigrants registered with the jobs agency last year didn’t receive any support at all. By the definition used in the study, “newly arrived” refers to people who came to Sweden in the last three years.

SALAR’s study also revealed problems with Arbetsförmedlingen’s treatment of immigrants when it came to gender equity.

According to the association’s findings, the employment agency offered assistance to newly arrived immigrant men twice as often as it helped women immigrants.

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