An office building in Stockholm. File photo: Scanpix
Labour market

Discrimination a challenge for foreign workers

5:13 min

As Radio Sweden has previously reported, Sweden has one of the most liberal systems for labour immigration. In theory, skilled workers can come here and work without much difficulty. But are Swedish employers and unions as welcoming as the regulations suggest?

Sweden's labour immigration system is designed to attract skilled workers with specific qualifications. An engineer Radio Sweden spoke to on a square in Stockholm ticked many of the boxes.

He had two specialized master's degrees and was making progress in his Swedish lessons. He'd even done his master's thesis at a successful Swedish engineering firm.

Still, he struggled to get any responses when applying for jobs. When writing with a Swedish pseudonym, however, he and his friend began hearing back from employees and unions.

"It makes me feel unwelcome," the engineer told Radio Sweden.

"Maybe it has to do with my original applications being in English, I don't know," he continued.

So is discrimination a spoke in the wheel of Sweden's labour immigration system?

Peter Larsson, the political director at the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, the union the engineer tried his experiment on, said his organisation favour migration and the integration of non-EU workers into the Swedish labour market.

Sweden's Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag said that public and private employers need to better understand the strength of a diverse workplace.

"We like international experience – but, if we ironicize it a little, only if you're born and educated in Sweden. We need to better see the competence coming from other countries," he said.

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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