Logotyp på utskrifter

Everyone benefits from foreign university graduates in work

Seven difficult years. That’s how long it takes in Sweden for a foreign university graduate to get a job which matches their level of education. Similarly, there is an increasing demand for their skills in the labour market. The project by the Swedish Social Fund, “Foreign university graduates”, shortens the route that these people need to take in order to find work.

Scientist 

- Foreign university graduates do not have access to the labour market, despite the fact that they are needed. To compete globally, we have to take advantage of all of the skills we have, but this is also related to both economic and personal gains, says Alexander Oskarsson.

Roughly 25 per cent of those who migrate to Sweden have a university education. After seven years, only half of them will have a job that matches their educational background. According to an investigation by the Swedish National Audit Office, there is money to be made through quicker integration.

- If the time taken to get work is reduced by one month for 700 people, the economic gains amount to approximately SEK 40 million. So consider how much can be saved if this time is reduced by three or four years. We’re talking of staggering sums, he says.

He believes that the issue of integration also sends a clear signal to younger generations of people with different human values in Swedish society.

A coherent pathway

- There are also shortages within several professions; technicians, engineers, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. Demographic developments mean that this need will only increase, says Alexander Oskarsson. 

Ten years ago, three ESF projects were started which, independently of one another, worked towards the quicker integration of university graduates with a foreign background. At the end of the project, together with the Swedish Public Employment Service, they developed a training concept called “The Shortcut”.

- We saw a need to turn the operation on its head - to create a coherent pathway from the moment the person arrived until when they were in work. 

Three parts

Through the Shortcut training programmes, the participants study vocational Swedish and undertake job-specific supplementary courses in conjunction with a traineeship.

- The traineeship and training programmes reinforce each other. During their traineeship, the participants find out if there is anything that they are lacking, or if they have any particular skills which they were not aware of earlier, says Alexander Oskarsson.

The County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland owns the project and works together with the Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Migration Board. Work is carried out in three parts. Developing training programmes, along with distance learning and validation for instance, comprise part one. Part two deals with information, such as building a project website tailored to the group.

- Part three deals with arranging permanent organisation and financing for the operation, and this is where we need to influence policy, he says. 

70 per cent go into work

Participants come from the Swedish Public Employment Service and should not have lived in Sweden for more than three years. The participants undergo training and coaching for a period of 18 to 40 weeks in addition to networking with companies and learning how the Swedish labour market works.

After these efforts, around 70 per cent of the participants get work which matches their level of education. Our goal was for 840 people to go through the scheme. We ended with 550, largely because many of the participants needed further language training than we had expected, he said.

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For more information in our projectbank at esf.se