Source: Government of Sweden
The Swedish economy has performed strongly. From an historical perspective, the employment rate is high among both women and men. But despite the positive trend in recent years, unemployment is still too high in certain groups and jobseekers all too often lack the skills that employers require. Since 2018, unemployment is no longer decreasing and developments in the labour market are expected to be more subdued.
In the budget adopted by the Riksdag for 2019, scope for an active labour market policy has been significantly reduced. This risks making it more difficult for people with a relatively weak position in the labour market to find work. In the light of this, the Government proposes introducing a number of measures to mitigate the previously announced cutbacks and improve the prospects for good results.
In the Budget Bill for 2020, the Government proposes initiatives totalling approximately SEK 1.3 billion to get more people into work. People must be given the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and experience that are in demand in the labour market, while it must be easier for employers to satisfy their skills provision needs. It must be possible for more people to start and run companies, and the business sector’s competitiveness must be strengthened.
“Sweden is well equipped to meet a future economic slowdown, and an efficient, active labour market policy is an important cornerstone of this work,” says Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson.
A well-developed labour market policy
The Government proposes providing resources to increase the number of participants in procured matching services in response to the approach of the efforts to reform Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish Public Employment Service). The proposal means that SEK 193 million will be provided in 2020. Subsequently, it is estimated that SEK 348 million will be provided in 2021 and SEK 427 million in 2022.
It is estimated that Arbetsförmedlingen will receive SEK 350 million in 2021 and SEK 150 million in 2022 in administrative appropriation increases to maintain the pace of the reform process, set long-term priorities and, in the short term, avoid further cutbacks beyond those in 2019 and 2020 and which the service had previously announced.
Additional funds amounting to SEK 427 million are proposed for 2020 to curb the reduction of extra jobs and introductory jobs. The Government proposes providing SEK 281 million in 2020 for employment training. The aim of employment training is to strengthen an individual’s ability to find or keep a job, and to make it easier for employers to find workers with the skills they need. Those who are unemployed will be offered training in shortage occupations.
The Government intends to introduce labour market entry agreements, with lower wages and in line with proposals by the parties, to stimulate jobs for new arrivals and long-term unemployed. Labour market entry agreements will be expanded to include companies without collective agreements and temporary work agencies in a way that ensures the advantages will not be lost. It is proposed that for 2020, a total of SEK 84 million be provided for labour market entry agreements. It is expected that SEK 85 million will be provided for 2021 and SEK 117 million for 2022.
It is important that these funds are allocated on the basis of a gender perspective.
The difference in the employment rate between Swedish-born and foreign-born people is still too large, particularly for women. The Government therefore proposes providing a total of SEK 56 million for an intensive year for new arrivals for quicker entry into the labour market. The ‘Swedish from day one’ initiative for asylum seekers will be extended and SEK 50 million will be provided for language training to those on parental leave.
To encourage asylum seekers wishing to arrange their own accommodation to choose to live in an area with good prospects for a better reception, the Government proposes changing accommodation regulations. As a general rule, asylum seekers who move to certain areas with socioeconomic challenges will not have the right to a daily allowance or special allowances.
Expanded Adult Education Initiative
The Adult Education Initiative will be expanded to include 93 000 places in 2020.
Those with little education run a higher risk of unemployment than those with higher levels of education. It is therefore proposed that the education entry grant initiative be continued to recruit people with substantial education needs to enrol in studies. A more flexible range of educational programmes will be introduced in higher vocational education in the form of more individual courses. Resources will be made available to maintain the quality of liberal adult education.
Investments in education are needed to meet society’s future need of skills provision and to ensure strengthened welfare throughout the country. The Government is giving particular priority to expanding essential higher education programmes where there has been a major shortage of staff with the right qualifications. It is proposed that the following programmes be expanded: preschool teacher, teacher, engineer, town planning, health care and doctor.
Funds will be provided to higher vocational education to allow a greater range of individual courses and so facilitate skills development for those who already have a job.
Dealing with the shortage of teachers is one of the most important challenges Sweden faces. The supply of teachers will be increased through measures to enhance recruitment to teacher training programmes and to give more student teachers the opportunity to work and study at the same time, to make it easier for people with higher education to change career or supplement their education to become registered teachers, and to improve the quality of teacher training.
Active business policy
Sweden is one of the world’s most innovative countries, and with innovation we can provide solutions to different social challenges. The Government proposes setting aside SEK 100 million annually between 2020 and 2022 for initiatives that promote innovation and strengthen Swedish competitiveness with links to the National Innovation Council.
Sweden is an export-dependent country and exports play a crucial role for jobs and growth in the Swedish economy. It is important that the Government mobilises its efforts to ensure that Sweden also performs well in global competition in the long term. The Government is therefore producing a detailed export and investment strategy in response to demand from the business sector.
Almi Företagspartner AB will receive additional funds to help it develop its activities and so contribute to strengthening Swedish competitiveness and creating the conditions for more and growing businesses throughout the country.