Even before we put our foot on Swedish soil we know that we have to acquaint ourselves with the Swedish language. The Swedish for immigrants, SFI courses are the most popular option for newcomers. But what happens after that?
It is slightly over a year since I followed my husband to Stockholm in 2015. While my husband was busy getting the hang of his work and work-place, I was in a state of shock as I suddenly realized that I didn’t have much to do!
The most I could do from my end was to look for job openings in the sector that I had experience in. It was frustrating when I realized that the knowledge of the local language was a must to grab a place in the sector; that is Communications or Public Relations to be specific.
So, the next thing I did was to enroll myself for Swedish classes. The most obvious option was to go for SFI (Svenska för Invandrare).
When SFI isn’t enough
I started studying Swedish and was eager to complete the course and enter the job market soon. So I opted for longer sessions. It took me about seven months to complete all SFI courses. I realized that I could read, speak and write at a basic level. This however, was by no means enough to find a job in Communications!
I had to be very good at communicating in Swedish in all forms, to be able to land a job. I was again restless and anxious. But, that was not going to help. So I gathered my patience and looked for the way forward. And I found myself facing to options.
First option: Svenska som andraspråk, SAS
Svenska som andraspråk, SAS consist out of four courses. One on a base level (grundläggande nivå) and three at a high school level (gymnasium nivå). Each of these levels are 7 weeks long and comes with so called national test (nationella prov) which needs to be passed. The format of this course ensures that by the end of the course one is able to write different types of texts, talk relatively fluently and read and understand complex texts.
SAS is a good option for you who want to study at a Swedish university
The SAS course aims at preparing the newcomers for further studies at universities. So, if one is interested in studying further at any of Sweden’s universities one can opt for this preparatory course. This course is good for people who want to jump into the labor market and hope for finding a suitable job option.
However, I did not choose this option. Instead I went for the other one which is specifically designed for professionals such as engineers, advocates, teachers, economists or other social scientists.
Second option: Swedish for academics and professionals
Stockholms Swedish for academics, SIFA is divided into three different categories.
- SFP (Intensive Swedish for teachers)
- SFINX (Intensive Swedish for engineers and architects)
- SFEJ (Intensive Swedish for economists and lawyers and other social scientists)
This course also consists of base level courses and high school level courses, and comes with two national tests that needs to be passed. However, the difference here is that each level is 9 weeks long. At SIFA we also have one class each week that focuses on job market training specific to our professions.
Special focus on the labour market and needed labour market skills
Each category under SIFA are associated with specific national bodies that help the students find their feet into the Swedish labor market. For example, SFP helps the students for teaching qualifications with their association with Stockholm University, SFINX has a collaboration with KTH (Kungliga Tekniska Högskola) who have a well defined mentorship program for SIFA students and finally the students under SFEJ are appointed mentors through the trade union JUSEK, which is a union of economists, lawyers and social scientists.
So, if one wants to enter the Swedish job market it is advisable to have some patience and equip oneself well enough before taking the plunge.
The two options mentioned above are some of the best ways (that are free of charge!) to find one’s way. This is because both these options provide opportunity to meet professionals from the Swedish labor market alongside enhancing the students’ knowledge of Swedish language. For me the second option fitted best as I have a background in social science and communications.
But you will of course choose what works best for you!
Written by: Surabhi Mishra
A communicator by profession I love to explore different cultures, and the confluence of varied cultures that exists in Sweden makes it the ideal place for me to be in! I followed my husband to Stockholm about a couple of years ago and I have never experienced a single dull moment since. I am thoroughly enjoying my roller-coaster ride here and wish to share my experiences in the due course with everyone.