including hands-on report and interview with Alexandra Sjöberg, Development Manager of the Arbetsförmedlingenct & Partnerships at Upwardly Global
In 2015, with the increased immigration of “newly arrived” in Sweden, designating those who have obtained a residency permit in the last 36 months, the Swedish government faced multiple challenges, but also identified multiple possibilities. The challenge: newly arrived immigrants tend to have lower employment rates. The chance: many newly arrived have education and training in occupations where shortages of skilled and experienced labour exists. Within this context, one of the stated responsibilities and priorities of the Swedish PES is to promote the quicker and more efficient introduction of newly arrived immigrants into the labour market.
Implementation of the Model
Starting from 2015 onward, a triparty conversation was organised between the Swedish Labour Ministry, the Swedish PES and the labour market representatives (trade unions and employer organisation in specific), especially within sectors with a shortage of skilled workers. This was done in order to find ways to identify and facilitate skills needed in the Swedish labour market within the newly arrived group. In addition, to find ways to tackle existing obstacles for those within the group not gaining employment due to them not having no or little experience in/from Sweden.
Since 2016, 14 agreements on structured cooperation’s between Arbetsförmedlingen and labour market representatives have been drawn up. Participants in the respective fast track will gain the necessary skills after taking part in a pre-defined chain of activities to meet the Swedish markets demands for employability. All chains have built in their DNA a close cooperation with each sectors’ representatives. Each Fast Track has a different design but follows 3 steps including competence mapping, assessment and completion, all of which are measures that pre-dated the fast track programme but which are now being linked to each other. These steps include concretely a competency mapping based on self-assessment, for instance. Moreover, a validation is done according to the “industry model”, through which skills are tested which are either acquired in Sweden, but for which there is no supporting document, or to test skills acquired in another country. A professional assessment is also executed, entailing the assessment of a person’s vocational qualification in order to establish if the person has the ability to practice a profession. Based on the recommendations drawn from the assessment, an individual plan is designed and executed. If any of the measures mentioned above result in a need for bridge courses, the newly arrived will be referred to a training provider where an individual plan is designed and executed.
The central paradigm of Sweden’s fast track is to build on a newcomer’s existing education and skills with the goal to adjust and update these skills in a methodical and structural fashion as quickly as possible according to the requirements of the Swedish labour market. By cooperating with the relevant labour market players and by building on existing, but previously scattered, measures, a broad acceptance is guaranteed. The fast track allows for a quick continuation in a qualified profession through a tightly-woven, and tightly connected chain of activities.
Local, national and international policy makers, ministries
Sweden’s Fast Track offers a structured chain of integration activities, legitimized by the relevant labour market parties. The chains’ three main areas are: Identify vocation, competency evaluation and bridge training, all of which are guided by, and depending on, Sweden’s labour market demands.
The Swedish Public Employment Services (PES), “Arbetsförmedlingen”, in cooperation with trade unions, employer organisations, education providers and other relevant government agencies