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Despite this, unemployment is still rife within the Arabic-speaking community despite being equipped with education and previous work experiences. Much of the unemployment frustration is directed at Arbetsförmedlingen (The Swedish Employment Office) and to the Swedish market which is unforgiving in its demands for excellent language skills or Swedish work experiences.

When the coalition recently announced the new budget for 2020 there were many labor market reforms that were met with praise and criticism. One such was the sharp decline in the budget for Arbetsförmedlingen.

Since 2011 the amount of foreign-born enrolled in Arbestförmedlingen was 10 %.  In 2018 that number rose to 58 %. This increase is substantial considering that foreign-born do not constitute more than 23 % of the total population of Sweden.

After gathering information and poll statistics from 3100 participants from the Arabic-speaking community regarding the forthcoming labor market reforms, we saw that the closing Arbetsförmedlingen was not overwhelmingly supported, due to fear of the consequences. Still, their frustration persists.

51 % of the participants were in favor of closing Arbetsförmedlingen because of:

  • Inefficiency. Participants noted that there are actually few jobs coming throughArbetsförmedlingen and that it is working more in managing the unemployed than creating incentives for employment. There is an increasing frustration about being required to learn Swedish for employment, only to lose the same language skills due to unemployment after years of being enrolled at Arbetsförmedlingen.

Wrong priorities. The labor segregation is another problem due to the fact that most of the jobs today are received through contacts and networks. Many Arabic-speakers that are enrolled in Arbetsförmedlingen are not encouraged to search for jobs outside Arbetsförmedlingen or receive information of where to go and how to expand their network, that might land a job. Therefore, Arabic-speakers feel that Arbetsförmedlingen exists only to exist.

49 % was in favor to keep Arbetsförmedlingen in its current form because of:

  • the role plays in assisting people to understand how to apply for work and for the benefit of being inscribed in the system.

  • the lack of other similar institution that can fill in the role of Arbetsförmedlingen.

Kotada Yonus