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.



Settlement of migrants in Sweden and the introduction programme

Early and efficient settlement can have long-term implications for the integration process, yet bottlenecks have developed in the settlement process in Sweden that risk jeopardising the progress towards integration in the critical months following arrival. This chapter examines the settlement process, the actors involved, and the root causes of delays. The chapter then turns to the impact of the challenges arising from settlement delays have upon integration activities, in particular the country’s flagship Introduction Programme. The system of financing integration is central to the relationship between settlement and the introduction programme and the incentives it engenders have implications on the degree of co-operation between the various actors involved in integration, but also on the incentives for municipalities to provide refugees with a home. This chapter investigates these incentives, and discusses the extent to which funding formulas may need to be re-examined.


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