The sky-high youth unemployment in Sweden sees many young graduates fleeing to Norway in search of a job.
Svenskt Näringsliv (the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise) is now concerned that the out-migration in the long term could damage economic growth. A quarter of the Swedish adolescents between 15 and 24 are outside the labor market. And it has not become any easier to get a job during the economic crisis.
“I receive more questions than before about foreign opportunities from those with academic training. Often they show an active interest in working abroad just before they finish their education," says Pirjo Väänänen, EURES Adviser at the Public Employment Service, which provides information about work in different countries.
Many questions concerning jobs abroad are about Norway in specific. According to the Norwegian tax authorities, the number of Swedish citizens who have a tax card in Norway, meaning they work and are liable of taxation in the country, has increased sharply in recent years.
Swedish youth 'skilled and easy to work with'
At the end of 2009 there were 83,600 Swedish citizens working in Norway. That is an increase of 25 % in two years. Of those Swedes with a tax card in Norway, as many as 35 % are between 20 and 29 years old.
“It is certainly a plus that wages are better than in Sweden, and it is easier for young people to find jobs in Norway than in Sweden. We have a labor shortage,” says Johannes Sörbö, advisor at the Norwegian Employment Service. He adds that Swedish youths are popular among Norwegian employers.
“They are known to be skilled and easy to deal with, and the language is of course no problem.”
But Sweden's largest employers organization, Svenskt Näringsliv, believes it is a serious issue that many young people leave Sweden in search for a job.
“It's really worrying that graduates and other young people see a reason to leave Sweden. For companies, who will need these employees later, a direct consequence is that key skill and potential is leaving the country. In the long term, this means lower growth and prosperity for the country as a whole," says Malin Sahlén, economist at Svenskt Näringsliv.