Does Sweden need more unskilled jobs?

1:01 min

A new report from the biggest labour union federation wants the state to offer more training for unemployed people on benefits, while the opposition says getting an unskilled job is the best first step.

Compared with much of Europe Sweden has relatively low unemployment, but for young people and for the long-term sick things are harder. And for those just coming into the country for the first time it is a challenge to get a new job.

The main blue-collar trade union says in a new report that unemployment training has been the "jewel in the crown" of the Swedish labour market, and should be made more flexible, so people can choose to get the skills that are in demand. In this form of training, arbetsmarknadsutbildning, an unemployed person receives benefits while on a course.

But lawmaker Jenny Petersson of the centre-right Moderate Party says to Radio Sweden it is best to first get a job, and then get training.

She wants to see more entry-level unskilled jobs available, and says that the red-green government plan to cut the RUT tax break for domestic services is part of Sweden moving in the wrong direction.

The centre-right government brought in the RUT tax break to make it cheaper to hire a cleaner or other help around the house. And Jenny Petersson says that other unskilled jobs, such as working in a restaurant, act as ways into work, as well as being valuable in and of themselves.

"These are the kinds of jobs that have to be done. And I don't say all young people are going to do these jobs, because there is a mix of young people, and there is a mix of refugees. So I don't say all these people in these groups are going to do these jobs. But we need these jobs as a country, and we need these jobs as a way in to the labour market for people who don't have an education."

Her best advice to people who don't want to stay in unskilled work is to complete a high school education and to get training while at work.