00:56 GMT21 September 2020
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    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (162)

    While much praised for its humanitarian efforts during the past years' migrant crisis, Sweden is still struggling to provide newcomers with ample jobs. Worried about the skyrocketing unemployment among "new Swedes," the Swedish government is trying unorthodox methods of solving the problem.

    According to a fresh decision by the Swedish government, newly arrived immigrants are going to be given jobs in the country's penitentiary system. Hundreds of trial jobs will be arranged within Swedish correctional facilities, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service reported.

    Last week, Swedish Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson visited the correctional facilities and met four immigrants who had found jobs there (as cleaners, kitchen workers and prison guards, respectively). Johansson assured the newcomers that their contribution is appreciated.

    The Swedish Prison and Probation Service has pledged to provide 450 practice jobs, which will mostly go to new arrivals, but also people with disabilities. Around 70 jobs have already been arranged.

    "I want to work, and I am very happy here at Mariefred. Now I hope that I will manage basic education," an elated Khaled Taha from Iraq said.

    According to project manager Helena Lönnkvist, trainees will become role models, both for the penitentiary service's internal proceedings and their relatives and friends outside the prison service.

    "Our hope is that they will want to stay and proceed to permanent employment," Helena Lönnkvist said.

    Still, the several hundred jobs that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service will be able to provide at best, is only a fraction of what is needed in light of the recent years' influx of migrants, the majority of whom are able-bodied young men.

    In the last two years, Sweden, a sparsely-populated Nordic nation of 10 million, took in over 200,000 asylum seekers, which has left a heavy toll on the country's welfare system and amplified the employment gap between "old Swedes" and "new Swedes." While unemployment among those born in Sweden is low and lies under 4.5 percent, unemployment among the foreign-born exceeds 21.1 percent, the latest figures from the Swedish Employment Service found.

    In 2016, the Swedish authorities had to retract their expectations of an employment boom following the influx of refugees, who had been depicted by the Swedish media as competent specialists. The Swedish government, however, had to admit that its hopes of making use of "thousands of full-educated engineers, doctors and economists," as Swedish national broadcaster SVT notoriously described the migrants' crop, were premature.

    As a result, a program of menial jobs with non-existent to low requirements was launched in order to employ as many newcomers facing language challenges as possible. In 2016, over 3,900 work permits for unskilled jobs that at most require a short training period or an introductory course were granted in Sweden, including berry-picking, farming and the like.

    The decision to offer prison jobs to immigrants is by many seen as bitterly ironic, since migrants are commonly believed to have contributed to the crime surge that hit Sweden in recent years. Sweden, however, maintains no statistics on the culprits' ethnicity and considers it unethical to do so, thus vehemently denying any possible connection.


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    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (162)


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    migrant crisis, unemployment, jobs, prison, Morgan Johansson, Scandinavia, Sweden
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