Long road awaits immigrants seeking work

5:06 min

A report this week from the National Audit Office highlighted the difficulties newly landed immigrants have finding work. Interviews with those on the ground says landing a job takes a wide social network, staying positive and a little bit of luck. 

Before coming to Sweden three years ago with her husband, Samara Johansson was living and working in New York City. She had a MBA, a dozen or so years of career experience in marketing and communications and a bright outlook on finding a job in her new country.

"My Swedish relatives told me you'll have no problem" finding a job, she tells Radio Sweden.

Johansson enrolled in an intensive Swedish language course for academics and through it met other immigrants like herself: white-collar professionals with career experience but getting nowhere on the job front.

Johansson says the discovery was demoralizing and made her question whether moving to Sweden and learning the language were worth it. So she and two other newly arrived immigrants started an online group to help connect with their fellow jobseekers and share resources and tips.

The group, called Sveriges Internationella Talanger, or Sweden's International Talents, has hosted mingles, paired those looking for work with mentors and has grown since its start over a year ago.

Johansson's situation and that of her classmates mirror the findings of a recent report that found Sweden's failing to help immigrants integrate into the job market. It said reforms were needed to quickly find people jobs.

For many, the report's criticism is nothing new. Marianne Nilsson is the co-founder of the company Incluso, which works with foreign professional to help them find jobs in Sweden. She says one solution to the problem is placing foreign graduates in longer internships which can later translate to a more permanent career.

"Even if you don't have a university degree, the entrance into Swedish society and jobs is an internship because then the employers will be less afraid to try it," she says, "and once they try it they see that it works and they hire."

Nilsson adds that it's not just the government that's in need of reforms; she says Swedish companies should also understand the value that foreigners can bring to their organizations.

Both Nilsson and Johansson say the best way to finding a job is through being proactive and networking, something that can be daunting for immigrants who find themselves without any contacts or understanding of the culture.

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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