Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 10/07/24


Swedish Refugee Law Center Visit Website

The Swedish Migration Agency have a responsibility to arrange suitable activities for applicants during the examination of the asylum claim.[1]  According to annual “regleringsbrev” from the government such social orientation classes are to be obligatory for all applicants as soon as possible after an application for asylum has been registered, during the examination of the asylum claim. There is a proposal to stipulate in the law that the Swedish Migration Agency are to arrange those obligatory social introduction classes.[2] The induction is now more comprehensive and delivered to all applicants over the age of 15 through two half-day sessions, while the material is adapted and in written for accompanied children and studied with the case officer for unaccompanied children. The sessions are organised in different languages in first reception centres or through videoconference for persons who have their own accommodation. The Swedish Migration Agency offers childcare while parents follow the course.[3]

When a person is granted a residence permit, they are entitled to an “Introduction Plan” to plan their education and professional development and provide for language training, courses on Swedish society, vocational training and work experience. [4]  The Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) has the responsibility for these persons between 20 and 64. [5] A person is entitled to be in the program until he or she finds an employment, is on parental leave or on sick leave for more than a month. The maximum time period in the program is 24 months during a period of 36 months.[6] In December 2023, a total of 9,785 persons were attending The Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) “etableringsprogram”.[7]

Since 1 January 2018, a person who has recently been granted a residence permit and is under the responsibility of the Public Employment Service has to take part in any education that the Public Employment Service assess as necessary for the person to be able to access the labour market. Should the person not take part in the designated education, they can be warned or lose their “introduction benefit”.[8]

Refugees granted residence permits under the upper secondary education law can extend their residence if they find full-time jobs within six months.[9] However, this was reported to be very difficult during COVID-19 and several organisations have expressed concern to the FRA about the insecurities in this regard.[10]

In 2023, the general unemployment rate increased to 7,7%, compared to 7,5% in 2022.[11] However, when it comes to individuals born abroad, it is higher. In the first quarter of 2023, the unemployment rate was 13,5% for women and 10,9% for men in this group.[12] In May 2022, it was reported that slightly more than 50% of refugees aged 20 to 64 were gainfully employed ten years after having received a residence permit and reception in a local municipality.[13]

Obstacles to obtaining employment include lack of language skills, complicated process for validation of diplomas, lack of low-skill job opportunities and host society attitudes.[14]

The Swedish Council for Higher Education evaluates foreign secondary education, post-secondary vocational education and academic higher education certificates.[15]

According to EUAA, the Swedish Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy researched the impact of the length of the asylum procedure on integration and found that beneficiaries who had to wait longer for their final decision had lower earnings.’[16] Also the Swedish Public Employment Service published a report showing an important increase in the number of unemployed people who lack upper secondary-level education, with the majority of them being female beneficiaries of international protection. The report argues to establish more efforts to identify and eliminate obstacles for these women to enter the labour market.[17]




[1] Lagen (1994:137) om mottagande av asylsökande m.fl. section 4, available in swedish at:

[2] SOU 2022:64, ’En ny ordning för asylsökandes boende, 220-221’, 2022, available in Swedish at:

[3] EUAA, ‘Asylum Report 2022: Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the European Union’, June 2022, available at:, 171-172.

[4]  Migration Agency, ‘Bosättning i en kommun’, 20 January 2017, available in Swedish at:

[5] Lag (2017:584) om ansvar för etableringsinsatser för vissa nyanlända invandrare, available in swedish at:

[6] Swedish Public Employment Service, ‘Etableringsprogrammet’, available at:

[7] Swedish Public Empployment Service, ‘Statistik om insatser och program’, available at:

[8] Swedish Public Employment Service, ‘När du deltar i ett program’, available at:

[9] Lag (2017:353) om uppehållstillstånd för studerande på gymnasial nivå, section 4

[10] FRA, ’Migration: Key Fundamental Rights Concerns’, November 2020, available at:, 7.

[11] SCB, The Statistics Authority, , ‘Fortsatt dämpad arbetsmarknad’, December 2023, available in Swedish at:

[12] SCB, The Statistics Authority, ‘Sysselsättningen fortsätter att öka första kvartalet 2023’, Quarter 1 2023, available in Swedish at:

[13] SVT, ‘Mer än var tionde utrikesfödd person är arbetslös – gapet mellan grupperna ökar’, 23 May 2022, available in Swedish at:

[14] IFAU, ‘Utrikes föddas etablering på arbetsmarknaden’, updated 19 November 2022, available in Swedish at:

[15] Swedish Council for Higher Education, ‘Recognition of foreign qualifications’, available at:

[16] EUAA, Annual Asylum Report 2023, July 2023, p. 268, available at:

[17] EUAA, Annual Asylum Report 2023, July 2023, p. 273, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – I Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation