Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their Children in Sweden

image of Working Together: Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their Children in Sweden

This review is the first in a new series on the skills and labour market integration of immigrants and their children. With 16% of its population born abroad, Sweden has one of the larger immigrant populations among the European OECD countries. Estimates suggest that about half of the foreign-born population originally came to Sweden as refugees or as the family of refugees and Sweden has been the OECD country that has had by far the largest inflows of asylum seekers relative to its population. In all OECD countries, humanitarian migrants and their families face greater challenges to integrate into the labour market than other groups. It is thus not surprising that immigrant versus native-born differences are larger than elsewhere, which also must be seen in the context of high skills and labour market participation among the native-born. For both genders, employment disparities are particularly pronounced among the low-educated, among whom immigrants are heavily overrepresented. These immigrants face particular challenges related to the paucity of low-skilled jobs in Sweden, and policy needs to acknowledge that their integration pathway tends to be a long one. Against this backdrop, Sweden has highly developed and longstanding integration policies that mainly aim at upskilling immigrants while temporarily lowering the cost of hiring, while other tools that work more strongly with the social partners and the civil society are less well developed and need strengthening.



Helping migrants find work in Sweden

Where previous chapters have examined both the supply of skills embodied in Sweden’s foreign-born population, and the demand of Swedish employers for these skills, this chapter focusses on finding work; on matching migrants with skills to employment opportunities that require those skills. The heavy reliance if job search in Sweden on networks can put migrants, who have more limited access to such networks, at a disadvantage and the Swedish PES, upon whom migrants rely more heavily than their native counterparts, has limited contact with employers. This chapter begins with an examination of the public support available for those seeking a job before proceeding to examine the hurdles facing, and support available for those seeking to have their qualifications accredited and their prior learning recognised in order to find the right job – that is a job that utilises their existing skills and experience.


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