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Not enough case workers for new asylum seekers

"Eradicated all chances of doing a good job"
2:42 min
Mikael Sjöberg, Arbetsförmedlingens generaldirektör.
Mikael Sjöberg, the general director of the Swedish Employment Service. Photo: Sveriges Radio.

With between 80,000 and 105,000 new asylum seekers expected next year, the director general of the national employment service Arbetsförmedling says they need more resources to help immigrants integrate into society and the labour market.

In 2010, the Swedish employment service took over the job of helping newly arrived immigrants from the municipalities. The aim was to help them get established int society and onto the Swedish labour market.

"Have you been granted a residency permit? Come to the Employment Service" is the title of a glossy brochure that can be found in job centres and reception centres around the country.

But on Tuesday, barely a week after the Swedish Migration Board published its forecast for how many they believe will seek asylum in Sweden next year, and with the budget proposals from the government and the opposition parties still fresh from the printer, the director general of the Employment Service, Mikael Sjöberg, tells Swedish Radio's P1 programme that his agency is struggling to keep up with the demand.

"The reform is designed for one member of staff to deal with 30 cases. But we have already reached 60 newly arrived immigrants per caseworker, and we are heading towards 80-90," he says "I think everybody can understand that this virtually eradicates all chances of our members of staff to do a really good job. It means that we cannot receive those who come to Sweden on a one-to-one basis, we cannot offer good plans of action and the waiting time is long."

Background and education level varies greatly among those who come to Sweden, which means they need help with different things. But when the case workers don't have time to meet all their clients, says Sjöberg, someone with a degree from his or her home country may be offered the same help as someone with no education at all.

"This doesn't help integration into the Swedish society. Many of those who come to Sweden will find it harder to get into the labour market or harder to enter into education," he said.

The new Education Minister Ylva Johansson agrees that the situation is serious.

"The situation for those who work with this at the employment service is very difficult, because it has been under-financed in the past. We are now adding more resources, SEK 270 million, so more case workers can be employed," she said.

But this is not enough, according to Mikael Sjöberg.

"In the budget that we have seen, we have not been allotted sufficient funds to deal with this next year," he says.

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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