According to the proposal, newcomers to the job market will work while they obtain the right qualifications. In order to charm more employers with the new proposal, LO suggested lowering the wages of the workers concerned. The idea was hailed by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, as well as top politicians from the Social Democratic and the Conservative Parties.
According to LO chairman Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, the idea is to allow immigrants to enter the job market as neophytes and establish a career history before being paid at higher rates as trained professionals. In this connection, he called the notion of lowering wages "reasonable," noting that exact wage cuts would be negotiated by partners. The lower salaries would only be in place until workers obtained the right skill set. It was suggested that these apprenticeship periods would vary from industry to industry.
Swedish Industry Minister Mikael Damberg said the government fully supported the proposal, which he hoped to become a reality soon.
Elisabeth Svantesson, labor spokeswoman for the opposition Conservative party, welcomed LO's gambit, which bears striking similarities to the Conservatives' own policy.
"Now it's up to LO and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise to ensure that this plan becomes a reality," Svantesson said.
Before the migrant crisis reached its peak in 2015, Swedish politicians and mainstream media were eager to portray the influx of asylum-seekers as a "rain of competence," insisting that highly-educated professionals would be queueing to Swedish employment agencies. In particular, Swedish national broadcaster SVT notoriously reported about "thousands of full-educated engineers, doctors and economists" fleeing to Sweden.
Later, the overjoyed rhetoric had to be tuned down, as the Swedish government itself had to concede that the delight was premature and to launch a program of menial jobs with almost non-existent qualifications in order to employ their unaccomplished "new professionals."
In 2015, Swedish men had an average monthly salary of 36,600 SEK ($4,040), compared with 33,900 SEK ($3,745) for women.
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