Refugee path to jobs is hot topic for municipalities

4:58 min

Local leaders across the country are wondering how to break up the bureaucratic ice that slows entry to the job market for refugees.

Municipal and county administrators met in Stockholm Monday for panel discussions and speeches about how to best accommodate a record number of newcomers. Minister for Employment Ylva Johansson told a crowd of around 150 from around the country that the government could best help local leaders by distributing child immigrants more evenly and helping decrease the lag time for getting asylum seekers on the job market.

Johansson told Radio Sweden that Stockholm should pick up some slack. During the recent record wave of refugees the region has taken a low amount in per capita. Those the region takes in are concentrated in municipalities like Södertälje.

"Stockholm has a good labor market. The whole region has taken few refugees. We need a system based on solidarity where all the local communities take their share," she said.

Distributing the welfare, housing, and social costs of 163,000 refugees who filed asylum applications in 2015 has stoked the discussion about opening up Sweden's labor market. The path to a first job here is plagued by paperwork, certification processes, and long waiting times.

The government has announced fast-track job programs for teachers, doctors, and butchers among other professions. But a diversity of local labor markets produces different challenges.

Jan Bohman, the executive mayor of Borlänge City, which is the municipal seat of Borlänge in the central-western province of Dalarna, said the government best helps local leaders by loosening the rules.

"We know the local labor market better than they do in the government in Stockholm," said Bohman.