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Youth unemployment

Unemployment in the way of getting a dream job

Published onsdag 11 april 2012 kl 16.16
"I chose to follow my dream."
(4:57 min)
Photo: Bertil Ericson / Scanpix

Should young people have the right to their dream job? A new report by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise shows that it takes up to a year before a third of university graduates in Sweden find their first job, and six out of ten say they've ended up in jobs they feel don't match their skills and education.

Given the high unemployment rate among Sweden's youth today, some would say young graduates can consider themselves lucky if they find a job that pays the bills. But is the state of the job market making them give up on the pursuit of their dreams?

23-year old Jenny Andersson got her degree in journalism but then spent a year unemployed before settling on a job as a personal assistant to a retired person in Stockholm. Helping them clean and manage their daily tasks around the home is far from the job Andersson imagined she would get.

"I had this image that I would be able to get a job as a journalist, but when I got to the unemployment agency they told me to get a "bread job," she tells Radio Sweden. "So I went back to the extra job I had when I was a student."

According to figures from the Statistics Sweden, 20 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed, which is slightly above the average for EU countries. But helping university graduates find jobs is not a priority, according to chief economist Ola Pettersson at the Swedish Trade Union Confederation.

In a report released Wednesday the trade union suggests reforms that will target those without high school education.

"Our main focus is on young people who have not managed to finish high school, which is a basic requirement for finding a job. Most of those who managed to get a university degree usually find a job after a while, so we don't consider their problems to be as acute."

The centre-right coalition government has identified youth unemployment as one of its key challenges to tackle.

In an interview with Radio Sweden Minister for Employment Hillevi Engström claims that the government's focus is also on helping those young people who are missing a high school education, rather than university graduates.

"It's very important however, to provide good career advice to young people who are entering university, so that they can make sure they choose a degree that will lead to a job," she said.

Engström also added that graduates should not limit their job hunting based on their degree qualifications.

"It's important not to be afraid of taking a job that doesn't match thier qualifications in order to get a foot in the job market," she said.

It is shown that degrees in journalism and other humanities subjects have a lower graduate employment rate than medicine or nursing. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise came under criticism earlier this year for suggesting lower grants and loans for students of these subjects because of the fact that they do not lead to guaranteed employment.

When Radio Sweden asked Jenny Andersson if she was aware that journalism was a competitive field to get into, she replied that she chose to follow her dream despite knowing it would be difficult to find a job.

"I think that everyone in my generation thought that you should study what you like, and not be so strategic about your choice of proffession. Having a job that you don't like is not fun," she says.

Sophie Vukovic
Radio Sweden

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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