Despite politicians’ insistence that migrants who poured into Sweden last year were highly educated and would be an economic boon, SEB economist Johan Javeus has warned that the newcomers are low skilled, and a “ticking time bomb” in the labour market.
The Scandinavian Individual Bank (SEB) economist warned that the lack of menial jobs combined with record high mass migration is a time bomb that could explode in time for the 2018 elections. Labour minister Ylva Johansson played down concerns, describing it as “a challenge that can be managed”.
In 2015, the difference in the unemployment rate among highly-educated Swedes and among foreign-born with only basic secondary education stood at a record level of more than 30 percentage points.
Noting the vast majority of new arrivals who entered during 2015 have very little education, Mr. Javeus told Svenska Dagbladet that the gap will continue to widen.
Labour minister Johansson disagreed with the economist’s assessment. The Social Democratic minister told the newspaper that while mass migration and the job market pose a challenge, the situation is manageable.
“No other OECD country has received as many asylum seekers as we did last year. It is clear that it is a challenge. But it is a challenge that can be managed,” Ms. Johansson said.
Ms. Johansson has begun a review of the Employment Service’s programme, which is designed to quickly ensure that new arrivals will work or receive training.
The minister said the department has “come quite far in this work” but did not specify any timetable or how the problem of hundreds of thousands of unemployed migrants would be handled in the autumn budget.
The programme’s goal is for all new arrivals to be either employed or in education within two years. So far only 31 per cent of migrants meet these targets.
Ms. Johansson believes that with lower thresholds to enter the labour market, meaning more low-skilled jobs, the programme can achieve its goal.
At the height of the “migrant crisis” in Europe last year, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven assured Swedes that migrants flooding into the country were highly educated and would benefit the economy.
The Social Democratic leader insisted newcomers would not cost taxpayers in the long run as they are essential to combat an “ageing population” in Sweden.
Asked whether it’s wrong to talk about potential costs of mass migration, Mr. Löfven said among the influx were professionals who would fill skills shortages in Sweden.
“But we are missing several professional groups in Sweden with academic training. They come to Sweden. There may be doctors, specialist doctors, nurses, engineers. They come to Sweden and we need them,” the Prime Minister told Expressen.
SEB economist Javeus has cautioned that Sweden will need to dramatically change its perception of wage levels and simple jobs if many of the migrants are to find employment. The economist commented: “Somehow we have to find a level of jobs available that will fit with [low-skilled migrants].”