The record gap between the extremes of the Swedish labor market is expected to continue to increase. The difference in unemployment between highly educated native-born Swedes and their foreign-born counterparts, who typically only have lower secondary education, rose by more than 30 percent last year alone. The gap is expected to increase further, as Sweden took in a record of 163,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, of which only some 500 managed to find work, according to a report earlier this year.
"With all the new arrivals last year absent from the statistics, and we know that many of them had little or no education, the gap will continue to widen in 2017 and 2018," Javéus said, as quoted by Swedish newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad.
According to Johan Bissman, section chief at the Employment Service's analysis department, the division is further exacerbated by a combination of the ongoing economic boom and increased immigration. In Sweden, a nation of almost 10 million, the number of people who are officially unemployed has risen to 255,000. The group includes foreign-born residents, who typically have only lower secondary education, as well as people with disabilities, who have a more difficult time finding work.
On the other hand, Javéus's expression ‘ticking bomb' did not impress labor minister Ylva Johansson, who admitted the seriousness of the situation, yet described it as "manageable."
"No other OECD nation has received as many asylum seekers [per capita] as we did last year. It is clear that it is a challenge. But it is a challenge that can be managed," Johansson said.
Before the migrant crisis reached its peak, Swedish media were eager to portray the influx of asylum-seekers as a "rain of competence," implying that a huge number of highly educated professionals are on their way to Sweden. Upon closer inspection, the exhilarated rhetoric was tuned down somewhat.
The Swedish media's overjoyed presentation of the newcomers gave rise to a colloquial meme "kebab technician," following a comical episode on Swedish television that happened last year.
"Good evening! People fleeing to Sweden have never been as well trained as now, according to a survey SVT made. Those who come are often fully trained engineers, doctors and kebab technicians," Swedish broadcaster SVT's own anchor Fredrik Ahl quipped sarcastically, unaware that his words went on air.