Most refugees jobless after 9 years: report

Refugees arriving to Sweden face difficulties finding work, with 56 percent still looking for a job after nine years in the country, a new report shows.

The report, undertaken by the Stockholm’s County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) and published on Monday, also reveals that refugees who end up in the Stockholm area have had better luck finding work in comparison to refugees in other parts of the country.

On average, 44 percent of refugees who have arrived in Sweden in the last decade were employed after 9 years in the country, while in Stockholm County the corresponding figure as 54 percent.

While more refugees manage to find work in Stockholm compared with elsewhere in Sweden, the group’s employment rate remains substantially lower than the 76 employment rate of the overall population in Stockholm County.

“There aren’t any specific goals for how many refugees should be employed, but these figures compared with those of the general population are naturally very poor,” Luiza Jastrzebska, from the County Administrative Board’s expertise, labour and refugee department, told The Local.

Even though the refugee employment situation in Stockholm is better compared to the national average, county officials believe more needs to be done to help refugees find work.

“We must improve considerably when it comes to creating opportunities for a quick establishment in Swedish society. The Stockholm region needs everyone who can contribute to growth and development,” county governor Per Unckel said in a statement.

The report also shows that less than 20 percent of refugees with some form of post-secondary education have a job which corresponds with their level of education.

In addition, the report reveals that refugee women arriving to Sweden have significantly greater difficulties than men when it comes to finding a job.

Refugees’ earnings also lag behind those of the general population, according to the study.

After eight years in Sweden, refugees who arrived in Stockholm County in 2000 has an average annual income of 135,000 kronor ($20,800), compared to annual earnings 221,000 kronor for the county’s population as a whole.

“Our report points out several problems, but we can also see a number of bright spots,” said Jastrzebska.

“For instance, income through labour is the most common form of income among refugees after a period of introduction, and the longer time spent in Sweden, the bigger the chances of having found work.”

Jastrzebska added that it’s difficult to compare Sweden’s performance compared to other European nations’ refugee employment levels for several reasons, including varying definitions of the term “refugee”.

“Also, this is a unique study. Usually, this sort of study measures employment among foreign-born citizens, not specifically refugees. That small group is often overlooked in studies,” she said.

According to Unkel, it’s important that more be done to get refugees into the job market more quickly “in part of the individual’s sake, but also for society’s”.

“We heading toward a situation where more and more sectors in society are suffering from a lack of competence and labour,” he said in a statement.

“Everyone is needed and the way to work and self-sufficiency for new arrivals must be shortened.”

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