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Sweden 'needs immigrants to make up for labour shortages'

Published måndag 5 december 2016 kl 10.39
A chef chopping food.
Shortages include a lack of chefs. Credit: Per Larsson / TT

Sweden needs an annual influx of 64,000 people of working age to make up for a shortage in the labour market, the director of the National Employment Agency told Swedish Televsion (SVT).

Mikael Sjöberg said there are too few Swedes born for the country to survive without immigration.

Areas where there are shortages include chefs, engineers and bus and train drivers, SVT reported.

“The labour shortage will stunt growth in Sweden,” Sjöberg said. “It will begin slightly next year and increase in the coming years.”

He said there will be both public and private employers who need workers but who will struggle to find those with the necessary skills.

Solutions to the problem include encouraging more young people to finish high school, better vocational courses and possibly even increasing the retirement age, he added.

Sjöberg said immigration is “an important piece of the puzzle to making the country prosperous”.

Sweden has had a large influx of people coming into the country in recent years, particularly during the migration crisis in 2015.

Foreign born residents are currently over-represented among the unemployed and Sjöberg said there was a strong ambition to get more of them into the workforce.

He said Sweden had prioritised humanitarian immigration rather than labour immigration in recent decades, but it was a political decision as to what type of immigration was encouraged and he did not take a position on which he would prefer to see.

He said it was important Sweden was aware that there will be a lot of competition for skilled workers in the future.

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