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PRESENTED BY JOBBSPRÅNGET

The fast track to a Swedish career

For skilled workers arriving in Sweden, breaking into the job market can be challenging. Fortunately, there are initiatives that make finding the right role easier.

The fast track to a Swedish career
Pouya Louyeh from Iran completed an internship with Volvo throgh Jobbsprånget. Photo: Supplied

Anuja Dabholkar from India, and Pouya Louyeh, from Iran were recent participants in the  Jobbsprånget program, the Swedish government program designed to assist academics, researchers and skilled workers from outside the EEA in securing jobs across Sweden. 

We spoke to the pair to discuss their experiences, and reflect upon how the program helped them succeed.

7 out of 10 Jobbsprånget participants are offered a job following their placement. Find out why

‘A platform to showcase my skills’: Anuja’s story

Having arrived in Sweden with a postgraduate science degree in Analytical Techniques, Anuja was keen to find employment that both aligned with her qualifications, and also immersed her in Swedish life. 

“After completing my Swedish language course at SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), I was looking for opportunities to get into the Swedish job market. That’s when I came across Jobbsprånget.

“Although it was an internship program I thought it would be a good platform for me to learn more about the Swedish job market. I applied through Jobbsprånget’s website and landed my first internship.”

Soon enough, she found herself in a role with one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. She continues: “I managed to get an internship at AstraZeneca as a Laboratory Engineer. I had a wonderful experience working there!”

“I learned how to work in a Swedish company, about further job opportunities there and I gained far more experience in the pharmaceutical industry.” 

It wasn’t just workplace skills she gathered. 

“I learned all about the Swedish working culture from my mentors. I came to understand the work-life balance that Swedish culture really values.

“I also improved my Swedish language skills and discovered how ‘fika’ – the traditional break for coffee and cake – is an important part of Swedish work culture!”

Following her experience, Anuja was offered a role at AstraZeneca as a consultant, and is enjoying the challenges that the job provides. Reflecting on her Jobbsprånget experience, she is emphatically positive.

“The program really helped provide a platform to showcase my skills in the pharmaceutical and laboratory fields. I also gained valuable insights into my company’s vision and values.

“Just as important, my experience with the Jobbsprånget program helped me hone my Swedish language skills and build my social network.”

Undertake a supported internship that can turn into a Swedish career. Discover what Jobbsprånget can do for you

Anuja now works at AstraZeneca thanks to her participation in the Jobbsprånget program. Photo: Supplied

‘It all happened very fast!’: Pouya’s experience 

Pouya, an aerospace engineer, told us that he turned to the Jobbsprånget program after his wife obtained a position at a Stockholm university.

“I was accepted to the program at the end of January, and my internship started at the beginning of March. I completed my internship at Volvo in Gothenburg. It all happened very fast!” 

Pouya is enthusiastic about the flexibility and freedom his internship afforded him. 

“I began talking to my manager about future opportunities. I was able to say to my manager, ‘I like this job, but I also need experience in other areas’.

“I didn’t have automotive industry experience, so there was a lot for me to learn. Once I was at Volvo, I started talking to different people in different roles to find out what they were doing, and to discover the best position for me.   

“I was working as a design engineer, so I asked my manager to give me the chance to join other teams as well. He was very supportive and immediately  talked to another manager in the Computer Aided Engineering team, and I was able to gain valuable experience there.”

Pouya was also able to learn about Swedish workplace culture, and help his co-workers understand more of his. 

“I spent a lot of time learning about Swedish culture – particularly over ‘fika’. During these breaks I was able to communicate with everybody on my teams and talk about culture, language and what’s going on in society. I was able to learn about my co-workers, and I could share a bit of myself, too.”

Currently working on one of Volvo’s design teams, Pouya also has overwhelmingly positive reflections on his Jobbsprånget experience. 

“I had a great experience with Jobbsprånget. In some cases, you might not have experience of a particular industry, and this program is ideal in providing that. It helped me immensely and gave me the opportunity to network and make real connections.”

Anuja and some successful Jobbsprånget participants. Photo: Suppled

Pouya gained valuable automotive industry experience during his Jobbsprånget internship. Photo: Supplied

The fast track to a Swedish career

From workplace skills and understanding of new technologies, to the invaluable insights regarding Swedish culture you can only get during a ‘fika’ break, the Jobbsprånget program is an ideal tool for academics, researchers and other skilled workers arriving in Sweden from outside the EU/EEA.

Jobbsprånget’s fixed-term, state-supported internships give those who may otherwise have trouble accessing the Swedish job market the kind of valuable experience and insight that makes them an attractive proposition to local employers. In fact, 70% of Jobbsprånget participants receive a job upon conclusion of their internship.

If you come from outside the EU/EEA, have a college degree in engineering, IT, architecture, business, communication, HR or science, as well as hold a valid Swedish work permit, you could be eligible for the program. 

Currently, there is an additional program focused at Ukrainian refugees, that can be applied for separately. 

Following completion of an online application, an interview will begin your path to an exciting opportunity in a Swedish workplace if an employer is interested in your profile. Many applicants find a position with an employer shortly afterwards, and some are working within two months.

With the next application period commencing July 16, now is the ideal time to consider Jobbsprånget as your springboard to a career in Sweden.

Take part in the program connecting employers and newcomer professionals – apply at the Jobbsprånget website commencing July 16 

WORKING IN SWEDEN

‘Hard to know your rights’: three quarters of foreigners in Sweden afraid of losing job

With Sweden's economy likely to dip into recession next year, more than three-quarters of respondents to a survey by The Local have said they are "slightly" or "extremely" worried about losing their jobs.

'Hard to know your rights': three quarters of foreigners in Sweden afraid of losing job

Out of 53 respondents to our (highly unscientific) survey, 28 said they were “slightly worried” about losing their job and 13 “extremely worried”, with the remaining twelve saying they were not worried at all. 

Most of the foreign workers who weren’t worried either work in industries or companies expected to weather any downturn or have skills, such as IT programming, of which there is a shortage in Sweden. 

“I work in an area of IT that helps businesses reduce costs, so I expect my employer to be busier,” wrote Geoff, who lives in Stockholm. “I keep myself updated with the latest trending technologies,” added Sachin, who like Geoff works in IT. 

“My skills are needed in both Sweden and all over the world, and the company I work for can use my skills on those contracts,” said one American software engineer. 

Those who were more worried mainly worked in other fields.

One employee for a Swedish religious aid organisation said that a tenth of the staff had recently been made redundant, with a further 25 percent resigning in protest, and that he, as a result, now felt his position was insecure.  

READ ALSO: How will Sweden’s Employment Act reform impact foreigners?

What measures have people taken to make their financial positions more secure? 

There was a clear division among the survey’s respondents between those who have permanent residency, Swedish citizenship, or EU citizenship, and those who are employed in Sweden on a two-year work permit. 

“I am still waiting for my permanent residence permit,” said one. “There is a rule that requires you to be a permanent employee both at the time you apply and when the Migration Agency makes a decision. Current processing times are around six months and this creates a lot of uncertainties. If you lose your job while waiting for a decision, you will lose your right to permanent residence and it’s not clear how much time you will have to find a new job.” 

Although many of those on work permits were still members of an a-kassa, Sweden’s heavily subsidised unemployment insurance organisations, they said that they feared they would not receive the full benefits if they were made unemployed, as they risked being forced to leave Sweden. 

“If you are a permanent resident or citizen, the employee benefits from a-kassa and unemployment insurance is quite good,” one wrote. “But this doesn’t apply if you are on a temporary work permit. In that case, you will still have to leave the country in three months if you can’t find a new job and I am not sure if you can continue receiving unemployment benefits once your work permit expires.” 

A few respondents said that they had taken out additional insurance on top of their a-kassa membership, so they would replace their full salary if made redundant, while others said that they had joined the union in their workplace. 

However, a significant number of the respondents said they were relying mainly on their own private protection, with several saying they had reduced their spending to build up a cash buffer, others saying they had built up an investment portfolio. 

In addition, many said they constantly sought to improve their value as an employee through in-work skills training, working hard and making themselves indispensable. 

How did respondents rate the employment protection in Sweden? 

In general, respondents rated the system of employment protection in Sweden quite highly, with the 53 respondents rating it at seven out of ten, on a scale from “poor” to “excellent”. 

Source: Typeform/The Local

Strong employee rights and a fairly equal health system are important elements of Sweden’s system,” wrote one respondent approvingly, while another said it was a comfort to know that “there is a process that is more or less in your favour”. 

Several respondents added, however, that the system was confusing and difficult to navigate for foreigners. 

“Coming from a country where employment laws are written to protect the employer, it’s hard to know all of your rights in Sweden, said one, while another said the employment protection laws were “hard to navigate as an immigrant”. 

Some questioned how useful Sweden’s unions were when employers were abusing the system, with the charity employee saying he was “not impressed with the Swedish union model” on the basis of his experience. 

“The effectiveness of the union depends too much on inexperienced, ineffective local staff, and unions do not have real teeth they can use in a case where an employer just ignores them,” he argued.

“As strange as it sounds, an employer that is not negotiating in good faith can just ignore and exhaust union demands and complaints. The union is reluctant to take things beyond sending written complaints to the employer. Even in cases where age discrimination occurs, the penalties are so small that claims are not worth pursuing.” 

Are foreigners planning on taking advantage of the new opportunities for retraining? 

Under new employment reforms which came into force in October, employees in Sweden are entitled to special loans for retraining courses, called omställningsstudiestödet. All employees can from this month apply for a loan for courses starting in January.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they would be interested in taking advantage of the new scheme. 

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