A branch of Arbetsförmedlingen - Sweden's Employment Agency. Photo: TT
Complaints spark refugee guide review
Published on: 27 Oct 2014 09:40 CET
'Introduction guides' (etableringslotsar) are employed by private companies working for Sweden's Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) and are responsible for helping newly arrived refugees get their feet in the door of the Swedish work force.
New figures suggest the guides are the subject of more complaints than all the agency's other services combined.
The number of complaints increased by 54 percent over the first nine months of this year, with almost 300 people logging criticisms about them.
According to Sweden's Employment Agency's website, the guides should provide help with the "personal contacts, language skills, and knowledge of Swedish society and working life" that is often needed to get a job in Sweden, alongside relevant experience or qualifications.
"The guide's assignment is to support you in gathering these experiences with his knowledge of and contacts in the labour market and society," the site reads.
But recent complaints include claims that some immigrants rarely got the chance to meet their guide, that their guide went on holidays without organizing a replacement, and that some guides never showed up at all.
Sweden's Employment Agency says the service is currently being used by around 30,000 people.
Asylum seekers and refugees are the main target groups and a large proportion of potential workers that make use of the guides are from Syria.
"It is not good that we have had these complaints and they put the whole policy in a bad light," Erik Lejdemyr a spokesperson for Sweden's Employment Agency told The Local.
"We are now reviewing the way we do things. We are trying to have better quality control for all the services we buy in for our customers," he added.
Last year several companies were accused of bribing refugees with free tablet computers to get them to choose their representatives as introduction guides. Sweden's Employment Agency says it has cracked down on firms using this strategy.
The Social Democrats, who lead the current coalition government, have talked about abolishing the system of introduction guides entirely, but a final decision has yet to be made.