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Scandinavia Today / Sweden


How the Swedish job market policy failed - Work permits given to areas where there is already pressure on the job market

Tuesday, 29 January 2013
The Swedish government was trying to balance up the job market and encourage the expansion of area where there are skill shortages with work permit program from outside the EU. It turns out that instead, work permits have been given to immigrant worker in skill sets that already have pressure in the country. As such, combined with issues such as bribery and corruption, it looks like the government's skill immigration policy has failed.

Last year we presented our scenario as to why there was large youth unemployment in Sweden and to why there has not been increased apprenticeship in the country. We identified that because of easy access to cheap, skilled, and mature labour from abroad, it made no economic sense for companies to be training young people, whom are usually described as lacking the motivation and interest in the job.

Today, Swedish media sources seem to have caught up with our view and have started examining why there is persistently growing levels of long-terms unemployment in the country and how the government's skill - immigration policy was helping mop up the areas where there are strong skill shortages.

The aim of the government's reform was to attract specialists in occupations that really had shortages. But it has shown, according to new data that instead, two-thirds of the nearly 60,000 work permits granted since 2008 had gone to people who have come to the country to do menial jobs, in occupations where unemployment in Sweden is already at record levels.

Swedish migration minister, Tobia Billström on December 15, 2008 launched the reform which simplified that non-European labour migration were wanted to fill position which the Swedes or EU workers could not be found to fill. This was expected to be high skilled areas such as IT specialist, medical practitioners, academic researchers and the like.

A trial period for the policy was introduced and after a while, that trial period was quashed with employers in all industries were given the power to determine by themselves if they feel they needed to recruit outside the EU's borders.

The Swedish Migration Board data show that around 65 percent of the previously granted permits applied to low skill jobs, such as in areas of cleaning, catering, and construction. This is despite the fact that unemployment in the restaurant business today, for example, is close to 10 percent of full-time unemployed.

In many of the professions where Sweden lacked skilled, fewer such skills have come to the country. Last year just a single permit was granted to the  - nursing professionals and midwives' and two to biomedical scientists.

New figures from the labour union, LO  and Statistic Sweden, SCB confirms that one out of the six labour immigrant population registered in Sweden after a year has no declared income. Others have had lower incomes than the salary indicated to the Migration Board, as the expected pay for that skill set.
Analysts estimates that at least half of the workers who received two-year work permits in Sweden have paid for them. This means that the Swedish work permit scheme might have been smear with corrupt practices.

It is calculated that between 5,000 and 10,000 of such permits might have been sold, with price tags from Skr30,000 to Skr40,000  and some up to over Skr100,000.

In this light, two employees at the Swedish Migration Board in Malmö were arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion of aggravated bribery. They are suspected of having sold residence  and work permits to a dozen people who are estimated to have paid Skr50,000 to Skr100,000  to stay in Sweden.

The Swedish Migration Board employees are suspected to have used fake Bulgarian passports for the fake work permits. Asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East have been most affected as they are sold passports, which present them as Bulgarian citizens and thus entitled to stay in the EU.

After a Migration Board's internal investigation last summer, the issues was referred to the police that led to the arrest. The Swedish migration Service writes in a press release that Director General, Anders Danielsson has decided to review the procedures and rules to prevent unlawful influence and bribery.

"I take very seriously the allegations that employees at the Swedish Migration Board should have been guilty of bribery. It is important that police and prosecutors now investigating the allegations," said the Swedish Migration Board Director Manager, Anders Danielsson.
by Team

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