Your best route to cracking the Swedish job market in 2022

Telish Telish, an Indian engineer, came to Sweden in 2018, but, like many newcomers, found the job market a tough nut to crack. “I was so fed-up. It was July 2020, and I had applied for more than 850 jobs in two years with no luck,” she says. “I told my husband that if I didn’t get some work by November, then I would go back to India.” 

Your best route to cracking the Swedish job market in 2022
Indian engineer Telish, who works at IKEA

Numan Oksas, a software engineer from Turkey who moved to Sweden to join his mother and father, felt similarly marooned. “When I came to Sweden in early 2020, I was a fish out of water,” he says. “My educational background seemed to make no difference. I was a janitor, a waiter, a lot of those kinds of jobs. It was dark, cold and I was depressed. I just stayed at home, ate, watched TV, did nothing. I couldn’t network because of the pandemic. I just thought, ‘why did I come here?’”

Sweden has often been described as one of the toughest job markets for newcomers to negotiate. It’s not unusual for international arrivals to take years to nail down a job. Telish and Numan’s experiences are sadly not rare. But now Telish is a product requirement engineer at IKEA, and Numan is a quality assurance software engineer at Telia. 

Solving the Swedish jobs riddle

So what changed? How did they figure out that ultimate Swedish riddle – the newcomers’ job market?

Their secret is that they enrolled with Jobbsprånget, a nationwide government-sponsored programme that offers internships to university-educated newcomers in Sweden. The internships are for four months, with 60 percent of those who successfully complete an internship ending up in employment (the figure was actually 70 percent before the pandemic). 

Need a job in Sweden? Find out how to apply for Jobbsprånget’s next round of internships – now open until January 16

Numan, who lives in Gothenburg, found Jobbsprånget when he was trawling the internet looking for tips on how to network. “I was researching how to network in Sweden. ‘How do I find the right people, how do I find jobs? Should I study more, should I try the labour market again?’ I was pretty dispirited. But then Jobbsprånget popped up. A lot of networking platforms offer connections to people in the labour market for advice or mentorship, but only Jobbsprånget offered something concrete – chances to apply for internships.”

But, as Numan confirms, it doesn’t just offer any old internships.

Through Jobbsprånget I applied for 20 internships and got one with Telia,” he says. “They didn’t treat me as your typical intern. They gave me assignments to work on and I really felt as though I was a valuable member of the team. It was real work. Not just making coffee and fetching lunch. These are proper internships. Even if you have ten years of experience, you’re going to be given real work that pushes you.”

Kick-start your Swedish career with Jobbsprånget – find out how you can apply between December 16th and January 16th

Numan Oksas works at Telia following his internship. Photo: Supplied

Jobbsprånget is targeted at English-speaking, non-European graduates looking for work in Sweden and offers a fast-track route to accessing career paths that had seemed blocked. The programme is in English so if you haven’t mastered Swedish yet, don’t worry. But it is essential that you have a degree in engineering, architecture, science or business, and that you’re registered at Sweden’s Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen). 

It’s targeted at people born outside Europe and the EU in order to follow Arbetsförmedlingen’s rules for internships. If you have any queries about your eligibility to participate, you can find out more about the requirements here

‘I’m not a person who will just sit at home’

Telish’s self-esteem was particularly bruised by the lack of action on the job front after first arriving in Sweden with high hopes.

“I was a production planning engineer for Yokohama Tyres in India,” she says. “It was a good job and I was good at it. But then I moved to Älmhult in southern Sweden with my husband who had a job with IKEA. All my friends thought it would be easy for me to get a job with my experience. But it was not. It was frustrating and depressing because I’m not a person who will just sit at home and do house chores. I need mental stimulation.”

She was worried at first that Jobbsprånget would only offer IT internships. “But it didn’t,” she says. “That was so refreshing. There were plenty of opportunities for non-IT applicants. It’s also great that it’s all in English. I’ve tried to learn Swedish but it’s quite a difficult language. I am 50 to 70 percent there, but it’s great that the Jobbsprånget platform is in English.”

Telish applied for several internships including Volvo and Tetra Pak and was taken on by IKEA. “I had some good experience in planning, and I used this skill regularly during the internship,” she says. “I also had some ideas to reuse and to recycle stuff that they really liked because the whole company is now geared to sustainability. It was a good match.”

Numan believes Jobbsprånget has changed his life in Sweden for the better. “Jobbsprånget really helped me a lot,” he says. “It gave me the tools I needed to find work, and the work itself improved my skills. Jobbsprånget showed me the road ahead.”

Ready to find a Swedish job in 2022? Jobbsprånget has just two application periods per year and the current one closes on January 16th – find out more now

Member comments

  1. Well after trying to register it seems its only for Non-Eu Uni graduates. So nope not useful. As with most funding and support doesnt apply to us forgotten experienced adult Eu Uni graduates with over a decade of experience.

    Not to mention our qualifications dont stand for much unless we are professors, healthcare staff, IT or engineers who speak English then language is secondary.

    Our Swedish even if its SFI level C3 never really allows us to be hired as professionals since our level is not fluent enough, and thats assuming everyone is capable of learning a foreign 3rd or 4th new language at over 30 years old. So nope. Nope SFI C3 gets you a manual job definitely not in your feel and demoralising.

    The EU Uni bunch get forgotten unless they manage to randomly find a lucrative job in a expensive city for English speaker or become self employed and pay 50 percent in tax and social insurance and that lucrative job is only feasible if they can afford the high rent in a big city but most of us are mature adults with families..anyway so yes not useful at all.

    But heck I can always go to the job center and learn to write a CV all over again like Im in high school. Useful!

    Oh wait but in other EU countries we welcome and embrace foreign staff of many languages and calibers to help prosperity and diversity and inclusion especially in English speaking ex colonies or tourist regions or business capitals.

    Such a shame to waste talent.

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Does a new court ruling spell the end of Sweden’s alcohol monopoly?

Sweden's Supreme Court ruled has ruled that an online wine retailer based in Denmark could continue to market and sell its wines to customers in Sweden. So is this "the beginning of the end" for Sweden's alcohol monopoly as some suggest?

Does a new court ruling spell the end of Sweden's alcohol monopoly?

What’s happened? 

Sweden’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of the online wine retailer Winefinder in its long-running case against Systembolaget, Sweden’s state-owned alcohol monopoly, which had tried to stop the company from marketing and delivering to customers in Sweden. 

The court ruled that Winefinder’s business was permissible under Sweden’s alcohol and marketing laws, because although the company has a Swedish holding company, the company making the sales is registered in Denmark, operated from Denmark, and uses independent couriers to deliver to customers in Sweden. 

“According to the Supreme Court, the inquiry showed that it was the Danish company that sold wine to consumers in Sweden through e-commerce,” the court said in a press release.

“The Danish company was established in Denmark and the wine was delivered to Sweden by a courier hired by the Danish company. The Danish company purchased services regarding, for example, finance, IT and customer service from the Swedish parent company, but the inquiry did not show that any sales activity had taken place on site in Sweden.” 

The court ruled that this meant that from the perspective of the law, private Swedish consumers were themselves importing wine from a retailer based in Denmark, meaning Systembolaget’s monopoly on retail sales of alcohol had not been contravened. 

READ ALSO: Why Swedes love and hate state-owned alcohol monopoly ‘Systemet’

What’s the background? 

Systembolaget took Winefinder to court back in 2019, seeking to ban it from selling wines via its Swedish online retail site, and in 2020 it won its case, with Sweden’s patent and marketing court ruling that Winefinder’s business broke Sweden’s alcohol laws. 

Winefinder then successfully appealed the ruling, with the patenting and marketing appeals court ruling in 2022 that its business was legal and it could continue selling wine to Swedish consumers (which it had never stopped doing anyway).  

Systembolaget was established back in 1955, combining all the regional alcohol monopolies which had been in place in Sweden under the previous rationing system. It was given an exemption from European antimonopoly and free trade rules when Sweden joined the EU in 1995.  

What will it mean? 

The Supreme Court has the last word on legal cases in Sweden, so from now on Winefinder and other online retailers based elsewhere in the EU can market to, and export to Swedish customers without any legal ambiguity.

Alex Tengvall, Winefinder’s Stockholm-based Swedish chief-executive, predicted that this would bring bigger competitors. 

“I believe that this will open the door for larger players, and that people will now dare to invest,” he told Svenska Dagbladet

Benjamin Dousa, CEO of the right-wing think tank Timbro, said he believed that the verdict would eventually see Systembolaget’s monopoly undermined as more and more Swedes opt for the broader and often cheaper selection of wines offered by overseas online retailers. 

“This is the beginning of the end for Systembolaget. We probably won’t have a monopoly in 10-15 years as a direct result of today’s announcement,” he said in a written comment to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

This court case is not the only threat to the monopoly.

In the Tidö Agreement between the three government parties and the far-right Sweden Democrats, the government committed to holding an inquiry into allowing Swedish vineyards and other local alcohol producers to sell their drinks to consumers. 

Does this mean the end of Sweden’s alcohol monopoly? 

Don’t bet on it. 

In its verdict, the court clearly states that Systembolaget retains the sole right to carry out retail sales of drinks which contain more than 3.5 percent alcohol, but that under law this right is limited to sales which actually take place physically in Sweden, or, when it comes to online sales, between a company based in Sweden and consumers in Sweden. 

The verdict does not mean it will be possible to buy wine in supermarkets, as you can in France, Germany or the UK, or that private off licenses or bottle shops will spring up across Sweden. 

It also won’t bring an end to the frustration many in Sweden feel at being unable to buy alcohol on public holidays or ‘red days’, or between the time Systembolaget closes at 3pm on Saturday and its next opening at 10am on Monday. Winefinder typically takes at least two days to make a delivery. to Sweden. 

What happens next? 

As soon as the verdict was out, the opposition Social Democrats were calling for Sweden’s alcohol law to be changed to close the loophole Winefnder has been using. 

“We had hoped before that this would not be the outcome, but now that we can see how the Swedish legislation works and the consequences of this, we have to review it and plug the holes,” the party’s group leader in the Swedish parliament, Lena Hallengren, said. 

An internal report from Sweden’s Ministry of Social Affairs has also called for new regulations to be brought in to prevent overseas retailers threatening Systembolaget’s position. 

“The ministry has stated several times that it is an urgent issue that needs to be regulated more clearly,” the document, obtained by Svenska Dagbladet reads. “Clearer rules on distance trading are an important step towards continuing to protect the monopoly.” 

Sweden’s Social Affairs Minister, Jakob Forssmed, who is responsible for the monopoly on Friday would not say whether or not he planned to tighten the rules.

“The retail monopoly is an important part of Swedish alcohol policy, which must be protected. We will analyze the current judgment, what consequences it may have and what possible measures it may lead to,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.  

It is highly possible that rather than opening up and legalising Winefinder’s business, the verdict will ultimately lead to politicians closing it down.