Updated: Oct 24, 2022
For many countries in Europe and North America, driving down immigration, protecting employment for native workers and controlling borders are dominant trends in the political narrative. Politicians often use fear to manipulate citizens into believing migrants and refugees steal jobs and lower wages.
However, in Sweden, the government has embraced a contrasting stance to this fearful rhetoric. Here, new arrivals are encouraged into work, fast-tracked into employment, matched with jobs and provided with training and mentoring.
The Snabbspåret Fast Track program, launched in 2015, is based on a simple formula; newcomers who already have relevant skills and experience are given jobs in industries that are facing a shortage of workers. Therefore, it isn’t so much a moral crusade, but a mutually beneficial program in which refugees acquire meaningful jobs that suit them, plus Sweden gets the skilled workers it needs in areas ranging from catering to medicine.
“We have a huge challenge right now with all the newcomers to help them into the labour market,” Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Ministry of Employment, explained. “But we have a lucky position: that we have a very strong economic growth and very high demand.”
One of the newest Fast Tracks, in teaching, places qualified refugees on a 26-week course covering Swedish language, educational theory, and European curriculums and standards. Some parts of the course are given in Arabic, to ensure a quick understanding of the Swedish school system.
Prior to the Snabbspåret program, it took a qualified newcomer four years to obtain a teaching position in Sweden, a slog that put many off and meant valuable skills were wasted. It’s a struggle faced by other professional refugees, who often struggle to restart their careers after losing their networks and reputations in a brand new country.
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