From arrival to work – fast tracks – a quicker introduction of newly arrived refugees and migrant

Fast tracks – objectives

  • To shorten time from arrival to work
  • To use skills in the right way – newly arrived migrants must not only find jobs, they should find the right jobs.
  • Employers/branches/sectors where there is a shortage of labour will get help with the provision of skills. Matching of the supply and demand sides.

Tripartite talks

The idea of national fast tracks for immigrants was initiated by the Swedish government. Through tripartite talks between the Public Employment Agency and the social partners (the employers and the trade unions) the fast tracks are agreed upon and carried out through a joint responsibility. SALAR entered into agreements on the following fast tracks in 2015, with different unions according to the professions:

  • Fast track for teachers and pre-school teachers.
  • Fast track for the 21 authorized professions within the health care sector.
  • Fast track for immigrants with a degree in social work.

Tripartite talks have also been held in the following sectors: pharmacies, tourism, health and medical care, local government, industry, health and social care, transport, painting, timber and graphics companies, real estate, energy and electronics, building, forestry and agriculture.

Fast tracks components

The Swedish Public Employment Agency (PEA) is responsible for the introduction of newly arrived immigrants in the labour market. Fast track is a new way of working where different support actions within the commission of the PEA are combined to make the introduction more efficient. Depending on the needs of the specific fast track, the PEA and the social partners tailor the components and put together a chain of actions that make up the fast tracks. Although the individuals in a certain fast track follow almost the same path, the number of actions needed and the time it takes to finally be able to enter into the labour market depends of course on the individual immigrant, for example his or her level of skill, experience and aptitude.

Possible components within a fast track:

  • Swedish language training will start as early as at the asylum centers.
  • Early assessment of the experience, skills and motivation of newly arrived migrants.
  • Validation and assessment of education and professional skills according to industry/sector-specific requirements.
  • Vocational and study guidance.
  • Fast track and employment matching.
  • Swedish language training that is relevant for the professional area.
  • Supplementary educational initiatives are necessary.
  • Language training/ supplementary courses combined with a work placement or job.
  • Language support, supervisors and mentors at the workplaces.

An outline of SALAR’s ideas of contribution to the LAB INT project

Our idea is to focus on one or more fast tracks, that SALAR, our members and other stakeholders, such as Public Employment Agencies, Trade Unions and Universities, are working on together.

We would like to focus on the fast tracks for teachers and possibly also say something about fast tracks for doctors, nurses and dentists.

These fast tracks have a multilevel approach – with both national, regional and local initiatives and projects.

Fast track for teachers and pre-schoolteachers

The fast track for teachers and pre-school-teachers is built on an agreement between SALAR, The Swedish Public Employment Agency (PEA), the two main trade unions for teachers (Lärarförbundet and Lärarnas riksförbund) and an employers’ organisation within the private sector (Almega tjänsteföretagen). The goal is for the participants to reach a Swedish teaching certification.

The fast track is a win-win situation: the municipalities as responsible for the schools can quicker recruit the teachers that they need with the right skills, the teachers get a job and are integrated faster in the society, and the pupils get teachers with the right skills. We have many newly arrived children in Sweden, which increases the need to have more teachers, with different skills, including language skills (quantity and quality).

The process

The PEA is responsible for identifying skills and competencies. When the PEA find individuals with a degree in teaching (either teachers or pre-school teachers) the PEA examine the diplomas and inform the individuals about the possibility of entering a fast track. The fast track is currently aimed at an Arabic speaking target group. The participants all hold a residence permit and are enrolled at the PEA, which entails an allowance during an integration program of two years. The participants start with taking language courses in Swedish. Step two in the process is to enroll in a 26 week long vocational education where the participants learn about being a teacher in Sweden. The course has different components and is held in both Swedish and Arabic. The participants also get guidance and counselling at the university so that they know what they need in order to reach a Swedish teaching certification. An internship at a school is included in the course. The course is held by six different universities throughout Sweden, which are the same universities that are also responsible for offering complementary education to individuals with a foreign degree in teaching. Stockholm University has the responsibility for the co-ordination, given to it by the PEA.

Fast tracks for doctors, nurses and dentists

Some of SALAR’s members - regions and county councils - identifies/interview refugees, to find out their professional background, already upon their arrival to Sweden, sometimes already at the “health interview” when they arrive. Doctors (foremost), nurses and dentists are offered language courses with a professional orientation (vocabulary) for example through e-learning platforms and teacher led lessons, and try to contribute with other measures, such as traineeships and study visits. In this way, the doctors’ language level and contacts with a potential employer are more quickly attained, then through the ordinary processes. This has shown to create strong motivation amongst the refugees/migrants with medical professions. Thus it creates a win-win situation for employers that are looking for competent workforce and for the refugees/migrants that are integrated into work and the society much faster than normal.

Contact person:

Jeanette Grenfors
Senior Legal Adviser, Employment Policy Division 
e-mail: jeanette.grenfors@skl.se