If you have arrived in Sweden as an immigrant and you are a willing person who yearns to get a job or to acquire new professional skills, you have many opportunities in front of you. But even if you are highly motivated, finding a job it is not so simple if Swedish is not your native language.
Anyway, the prevailing feeling of this mobility in Stockholm – the fourth of the EMISEI project – is that if you are a really committed person, who is disposed to make some effort, you can receive support and financial aid to achieve your goals, no matter how old you are, where are you from or what education you have.
Thanks to its long tradition on adult education, Sweden has developed an efficient system that aims to put in contact the needs of individuals with the demand of society, especially the labour market. The cornerstone of this system is to empower people to pursue their career goals and to increase their self-esteem, motivation and independence. This is true not only for immigrants, but also for Swedish people and for everyone who come to live in Sweden.
If you are an immigrant, this will probably require more time, but in the end your efforts will be repaid. The Program SFI “Swedish for immigrants”, for example, provides a basic knowledge of the language combined with vocational training. Founded in 2004, the program involves approximately 600 students every year in the city of Stockholm. To apply to the program, you must have a temporary or permanent residence permit and you must be at least 16 years old. After completing the course, you will receive a grade and you will be able to use the language in everyday life and in working life.
To increase the chance of finding a job quickly and to strengthen the motivation of students, the SFI Program offers different types of courses that combine the knowledge of the Swedish language with the teaching of the working language of a specific profession or the vocational training for jobs that have great demand in the labour market, for example nurses, chefs or construction workers. For these specific jobs it is not necessary to have a professional experience or education, since you can acquire the skills simply attending the course.
Another possibility, for immigrants that live in Stockholm and have professional skills or a university degree from their native country, is to attend an SFX course. Swedish for vocational education, SFX, is a collaboration between all municipalities in Stockholm County, County Administrative Board of Stockholm and the County Council of Stockholm. One of the main strengths of this program is that it combines the teaching of the language and the vocational training. The SFX courses start from different levels of Swedish language and have the purpose to shorten time between education and work or entrepreneurship. At present, within this program, there are courses for eleven different professions such as baker, craftman, IT Programmer, Truck Driver and Bus Driver. As for the SFI program, the courses are totally free for the students. The program is also open to academics who want to work in Sweden and provides courses for engineers, economists, lawyers, medical staff and other professionals.
The main goal of the SFX is to take advantage of the skills of people who already have a professional experience and to help them to start a career in Sweden as soon as possible. It is a mutual exchange and it works very well. The SFL – Swedish for Truck Drivers – for example, is one of the SFX course and it combines language teaching and vocational training in a job that has a large demand in Sweden, especially in Stockholm. The course starts every year in two sessions (January and August) and involves 17 students maximum. Many of them are Syrian refugees. After completing the course, the students must also pass the test to obtain the C driving license to start working as truck drivers. It is significant that more than 90% of them manage to pass the test and get a job immediately at the end of the course.
The SFX program is only one example of the multiple opportunities that the Swedish education system offers to immigrants from very different cultural and educational backgrounds – no matter if they are European citizen or not – to increase their chances to access the labour market as a necessary condition to integrate them in the society.