Sweden moves to allow freer flow of labor

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 12:32:59 UTC 2007


Sweden moves to allow freer flow of labor
bbj.hu07. 17, 2007. Tuesday 15:51

In an attempt to tackle the effects of an aging population and a shrinking
future labor force, the Swedish government Tuesday presented proposals aimed
at making it easier to move to Sweden to work. Migration Minister Tobias
Billstrom told reporters he had no estimate of how many people would be
interested in applying for work permits, but said "key groups" at present
included construction workers and health workers. Currently, work permits
can be granted for up to 18 months but a parliamentary commission last year
suggested increasing the period to 24 months. The new proposed system would
allow foreign workers to stay up to four years if they had employment,
Billstrom said.


The proposal included allowing foreign workers, who could prove their
qualifications, to seek a three-month visa at a Swedish embassy and then
seek employment in Sweden. Employers would also be allowed to look for labor
abroad. The proposal presented by Billstrom was to be debated by trade
unions, employers and other interest groups. Compared to last year's
proposal from a parliamentary inquiry headed by former Social Democratic
cabinet member Lena Hjelm-Wallen, the trade unions would have less means of
blocking applications. Billstom stressed that the trade unions would still
have an important role "in determining wages, collective agreements and
insurance terms."


Dan Andersson, chief economist with blue-collar trade union federation *LO*,
has voiced doubts over the trade unions' reduced influence in saying what
jobs were impacted by labor shortages. Billstrom said the proposed system
would follow legislation that specifies that positions should first be
filled by workers in Sweden, and if that fails by workers from other
European Union members or workers from the European Economic Area. In the
globalized world economy, Sweden faced challenges recruiting labor Billstrom
said, mentioning factors like language and climate as hurdles. He said the
proposal would also allow foreign students who have graduated from a Swedish
university to seek work in Sweden without first having to return to their
native country, as is the case now.


In neighboring Finland, Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid
Thors also touched on work visas in an interview published Tuesday. "The
government aims for a good employment policy, but there are already sectors
where the domestic labor force is insufficient," Thors was quoted as telling
the Finnish news agency *STT*. By introducing work visas, some of the delay
in the present system where authorities have to investigate if there is a
work shortage or not before giving their approval would be reduced, Thors
said. Random checks could be introduced to ensure that the system is upheld,
she said. (eux.tv)

http://www.bbj.hu/news/news_29034.html


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