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New 'care assistant' job created with immigrants in mind

Published onsdag 5 april 2017 kl 11.47
Tobias Baudin: These are very high skilled jobs
(3:36 min)
Care assistants at an old age people's home in Hägersten, Sweden.
Care assistants at an old age people's home in Hägersten, Sweden. Credit: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden's leading public sector union has agreed to help establish a new entry level care role which will allow new arrivals in Sweden to enter the job market with just nine months' training.

The Kommunal Union on Wednesday announced that it had reached agreement with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) to establish the care assistant profession.

This is an answer to the big debate 'how can we create more jobs in Sweden?'," Tobias Baudin, the union's president, told Radio Sweden. "Not least 'how can we create more jobs for all the refugees who have come to this country?'".

Baudin said Sweden's old age homes and hospitals would need at least 100,000 care assistants, once the new role is established, hopefully within a year.

He said that he also expected the number of assistant nurses to nearly double from 180,000 at present to more than 250,000 over the next 20 years.

"We are talking a lot of jobs now that will be necessary in Sweden," he said.

"You can start as a care assistant, and then you can get more education and become an assistant nurse, and a special assistant nurse. You can have a career in this occupation. We have a whole solution here for your working life."

The Kommunal Union has long resisted calls from the centre-right Moderate Party for Sweden to create 'simple jobs' for newly arrived refugees.

Wednesday's agreement is being seen as a compromise.

"In the Swedish welfare system, there aren't any 'easy jobs'," Baudin said. "To work in the Swedish elderly care and Swedish health care, you can't work there without any education. These are very high skilled jobs. When I ask the right-wing parties what they mean by simple jobs, they have a very hard time to tell me what they mean."

SKL is the organisation for local authority employers, who run Sweden's public health. Its chairperson Lena Micko welcomed Kommunal's decision

"The number of old people who need care is growing, and that creates a requirement for competent and experienced employees," she said.

Baudin said he expected his union to back other similar roles with entry after only a short period of training, starting with teacher assistants. 

"We need a lot of teachers in Sweden, so maybe there we can find other solutions, with maybe teacher assistants, that don't need as long an education as a teacher."

"Maybe we can find more branches where we can use these type of agreements in the future."

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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