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28 March, 2020

5 Answers to Working in Sweden

You are looking for a job in Sweden? Familiarise yourself with the Swedish job market and assess your chances of employment with these 5 answers to working in Sweden.

1. What is the current economic situation?

From 2014 to 2018, Sweden enjoyed a steady growth of 3%. However, in its latest report, Arbetsformedlingen, the national employment agency, expects the economic activity to slow down in the coming years. Also, the number of unemployed will increase (from 6,4% in 2018 to 6,7% in 2020).

Unemployment is much higher amongst foreign-born than Swedes: 15,4% compared with 3,8% respectively. This is partly due to mass immigration in 2015. Although fortunately, as they integrate into Swedish society, the unemployment rate is lowering.

Unemployment rate by gender in Sweden 2009-2019 ©Statista 2020
Unemployment rate by gender in Sweden 2009-2019 ©Statista 2020

2. What level of education is required?

As the employment of Swedish people has reached its full potential, to fulfill newly created roles and replace those retiring, the country will rely on foreign-born workers. Arbetsformedlingen states that industries such as education, training, and health will be largely dependent on new arrivals in the future.

In its report, the employment agency relates that “The level of education is of great importance for the possibilities of finding a job. (…) People with upper secondary education or higher accounted for almost 90 percent of the employment increase among foreign-born people in 2018.”

The demand for highly-educated professionals is constant and growing. Those with little or no education will struggle to find a job. “The most difficult labor market situation is found among foreign-born women with short education.”

 © unsplash

3. What are the most in-demand skills?

Every year, Arbetsformedlingen reviews 200 professions and identifies forthcoming labor shortages:

  • Engineering professionals (in building and construction, building services / technical building; chemical, electrical power, heating, plumbing and ventilation, mechanical, mining engineers, metallurgists, and related professions).
  • Healthcare professionals (dental assistants and hygienists, dentists, doctors, life science technicians, medical secretaries, midwives, nurses, pharmaceutical technicians, pharmacists, psychologists, assistant nurses and nurses, specialist doctors).
  • ICT (IT) professionals (ICT architects, ICT testers, test analysts, Software and systems engineers, developers).
  • Education professionals (pre-school teachers, recreation instructors, special education and upper-secondary level teachers).

Future employment growth (in %) in Sweden in 2018-2030 across sectors

 © Skills Panorama

4. Is speaking Swedish required?

It is possible to live and work in Sweden if you master English. It is widely spoken and understood by the local population. Most international companies, and those embracing diversity, use English as their work language.

However, your integration and chances of working in Sweden will greatly improve if you can speak Swedish.

Integrating in Sweden job market
 © unsplash

 5. How long does it take to find a job?

There is no straight answer to this question as too many elements will affect the length of your search.

The Swedish job market is opaque. Around 80% of jobs are filled through relationships, not by advertising. In addition, to apply for roles, you’ll need to build your own professional network. It can take more than a year to find your first stable job. Many foreigners accept temporary roles, or more junior positions, and even volunteer before they land their dream role.

Recruitment via networking doesn’t favor foreigners. Moreover, a study from Sociological Science Journal states that Sweden is one of the most difficult countries to get an interview if you have a non-European sounding name (only France scores worse).

Sweden is a land of opportunities for educated foreign workers, especially for those who speak Swedish and have a profession in the ‘most wanted’ list. In all cases, finding work in a foreign country takes time, patience and perseverance, as well as the financial resources to sustain oneself during the search.

Good luck and get in touch if you need help!


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Christelle Pottinger on Facebook
Christelle Pottinger
Hi! I am French and I have moved to Sweden in 2012 with my family. I enjoy writing and sharing my experience of living and working in Sweden. I am a career coach, always happy to help French and English-speaking Newbies fulfill their professional dreams.

One Comment on “5 Answers to Working in Sweden

wo liegt
1 April, 2020 at 10:05

Your posts is great. I follow you regularly.I recommend your website to everyone. Thanks

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