Government newsletter - More foreign-born people in work
19 December 2011

More foreign-born people in work

Photo: Per Magnus Persson/Johnér

The difference in employment levels between Swedish-born and foreign-born people is too large. It must be made easier for immigrants to find work. But to succeed, cooperation within several policy areas is required. During the autumn, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Tobias Billström, Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag and Minister for Employment Hillevi Engström have travelled around Sweden as part of a migration, integration and labour market project to learn about good experiences around the country. The purpose of the trips has been to gain inspiration from good examples and also to meet the people affected by the Government's policy and listen to their stories.

The work-first principle is central

The work-first principle characterises the Government's policy and is often the basis of what the Government does. This also applies to the migration, integration and labour market project. Making it easier for foreign-born people to enter the labour market is one of the most important factors for the overall success of integration.

During the autumn, the ministers responsible for migration, integration and employment have been on a jobs tour and travelled around the country, learning about good experiences and development projects - all with the aim of obtaining good examples and meeting people in different phases of getting established on the job market.

The ministers have visited Uppstart Malmö, Multiling in Umeå, Kökstrappan in Gothenburg and others. All of these activities are focused on getting participants into work and are based on the different circumstances and needs of the participants.

Many reasons to migrate

There are as many reasons to migrate as there are migrants. But to simplify matters, one can say that there are two primary reasons for people to leave their home countries: because they are forced to flee for various reasons or because they want to look for work in another country.

Those who flee their home country can sometimes take a long time to get established, as uncertainty about the future and validation of certificates of education, for example, can complicate things. This means it is important for the asylum examination and matching to the job market to go as quickly and smoothly as possible

Things are easier for those who come to Sweden as labour immigrants. Often they have a job and an employer waiting for them. With a job it also becomes easier to gain a social context and an understanding of how Swedish society works.

Immigration enriches Sweden

The movement of people is something that is both natural and very positive. People who have fled persecution and poverty have been given a chance to start a new life in Sweden. This has enriched our country, made us wiser and given us a more developed society. Immigrants contribute to our common prosperity. Without this openness, Sweden would have been a poorer country.

During the autumn Erik Ullenhag, Tobias Billström and Hillevi Engström have travelled around Sweden as part of a migration, integration and labour market project. Photo: The Government Offices

Every week, more than half a million foreign-born people go to work in Sweden. People's work leads to growth and tax revenues which underpin general prosperity. But more foreign-born people must be given the opportunity to enter the labour market. To realise the goal of increasing the proportion of people born abroad who are in employment, we must think beyond many of the structures that exist today and work together. For a person who comes to Sweden, the entire chain - of migration, integration and employment - is linked together in a natural way. It is also important for the Government to make sure that this chain is linked together. That the right measures are implemented at the right time, that we do the right thing from the outset and that we do not lose valuable time because of long waiting times or system errors.

The Government listens to your ideas

There is already a major labour shortage in many welfare sectors, and all the indications are that this will become more acute in the future. Health and social care courses at upper secondary schools do not attract as many young people as previously. At the same time, there is an increasing need for care for elderly people, who are increasing in number. One part of the solution is for more foreign-born people to gain employment.

There are many more barriers to break down and bridges to build on the road to getting more foreign-born people into work. All good ideas are welcome. Share your point of view at (the webpage is in Swedish):