Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Sweden 2011

image of Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Sweden 2011

Sweden reformed its labour migration management policy in 2008 and now has one of the most liberal labour migration regimes in the OECD. This book attempts to answer the question of whether Sweden’s labour migration policy is efficiently working to meet labour market needs that were not being met, without adversely affecting the domestic labour market. The review also examines the impact of the reform on labour migration flows to Sweden and on access to recruitment from abroad by Swedish employers.

After the reform, employers in Sweden were able to recruit  workers from abroad for any occupation, as long as the job had been advertised for a nominal period and the prevailing collective bargaining wage and contractual conditions were respected. Overall, Sweden’s new system has not led to a boom in labour migration, although this somewhat surprising result may be related to the slack labour market. The faith in employers appears to be largely justified until now, although there are some vulnerabilities in the system which could be addressed, especially in monitoring workplaces not covered by collective bargaining, and marginal businesses. The particularities of the relatively highly regulated labour market in Sweden may mean that this model is not easily transferable to other countries, but lessons can be drawn for other countries.


The evolution of Swedish labour migration policy

From 1972 to 2008, Sweden maintained a restrictive policy on labour migration. The 2008 reform was the result of almost a decade of debate and institutional discussion. The 2008 law allows employers to recruit for any occupation, and grants renewable permits to all incoming labour migrants, with the possibility of permanent residence after four years. The trade unions provide an opinion on whether the job offer conforms to the prevailing Swedish wage and conditions, but they no longer hold a veto over the employer request. The absence of a cap on entries or sector restrictions, and the nominal nature of the labour market test, make Sweden’s new policy more open than those of most other OECD countries.


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