This review is the first in a new series on the skills and labour market integration of immigrants and their children. With 16% of its population born abroad, Sweden has one of the larger immigrant populations among the European OECD countries. Estimates suggest that about half of the foreign-born population originally came to Sweden as refugees or as the family of refugees and Sweden has been the OECD country that has had by far the largest inflows of asylum seekers relative to its population. In all OECD countries, humanitarian migrants and their families face greater challenges to integrate into the labour market than other groups. It is thus not surprising that immigrant versus native-born differences are larger than elsewhere, which also must be seen in the context of high skills and labour market participation among the native-born. For both genders, employment disparities are particularly pronounced among the low-educated, among whom immigrants are heavily overrepresented. These immigrants face particular challenges related to the paucity of low-skilled jobs in Sweden, and policy needs to acknowledge that their integration pathway tends to be a long one. Against this backdrop, Sweden has highly developed and longstanding integration policies that mainly aim at upskilling immigrants while temporarily lowering the cost of hiring, while other tools that work more strongly with the social partners and the civil society are less well developed and need strengthening.
Both educational attainment and skills, as measured in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), are high in Sweden. They are not perfect substitutes, but both are to some degree necessary for successfully integrating in the Swedish labour market.
This report is the result of an analysis of Sweden’s context and policies, as well as relevant international best practices to support school improvement.
English, PDF, 500kb
As in other Scandinavian countries, lifelong learning is very well developed in Sweden, and contributes to making the system inclusive.
English, Powerpoint, 4,163kb
Presentation on lessons for Sweden in light of the PISA 2012 results.
Two rounds of the Survey of Adult Skills are under way: Round 1 (2008-13) with 24 participating countries, whose results were released in October 2013, and Round 2 (2012-16) with 9 participating countries, whose results will be released in 2016. A third round is scheduled to begin in May 2014.
Education at a Glance 2013 - Country notes and key fact tables
English, PDF, 907kb
Sweden enjoys an 81.5% employment rate for all levels of education – the second highest rate of all OECD countries after Iceland (Table A7.1b).
Country Notes from OECD Economic Policy Reforms: Going for growth 2011 presenting OECD recommendations for structural reform priorities for individual countries.