Sweden’s government at the end of last month announced plans to launch an inquiry into bringing back the old system of Labour Market Testing which governed which professions and skills qualified non-EU citizens for work permits before the liberalising reforms brought in by the Alliance government in 2008.
Martin Ådahl, the Centre Party’s labour market spokesperson, said that bringing back the old system risked starving Swedish businesses of “critical skills”. It would, he continued, in the end “cost Sweden jobs, investment and business, and it would be ineffective against fraud and misuse of permits.”
“That’s why businesses are so afraid of having this reintroduced because it was an absolute catastrophe when it was in place,” he added. “It strangled many central competencies for Swedish business in a critical manner, especially technical competencies.”
When The Local spoke Sweden’s Migration Minister Anders Ygeman earlier this month, he said that the government planned to work closely with businesses and trade unions to make sure that they installed “a swift and easy system for those who are in sectors where we really need people”.
But Ådahl said he doubted this would ever happen in reality.
“It’s highly improbable that it would work this time around because before, when the general political debate was less sceptical about immigration, the labour board system was extremely restrictive, and even a sort of guild-based kind of testing.”
So long as Sweden’s trade unions have a significant say over which type of skilled labour could come to Sweden, he said, they will always act to block foreign workers who they perceive as competing with their members.
“Who is going to make the calls on what labour immigration is necessary?” he asked. “If it’s the trade unions, and if it’s bureaucrats who are close to them, then they are almost certain to stop critical and necessary competence for Swedish business.”
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