Ministry of Employment initiatives in the Budget Bill for 2018

Everyone who can work should work and contribute to our common welfare. This is why, in the autumn budget, the Government is investing in strengthening labour market measures and the integration of new arrivals. The Government is reforming the system of subsidised employment and introducing a new, uniform supportive measure – introductory jobs. The Government is also strengthening efforts for a sustainable working life by establishing a new agency for work environment awareness and allocating funds for the development of methods to combat unfair competition.

Moreover, the Government is investing in measures to continue creating a sustainable reception system and ensuring the effective integration of newly arrived immigrants. The paths to employment will be strengthened through a new regulatory framework for Arbetsförmedlingen (the Swedish public employment service) on the integration of new arrivals and the introduction of an education and training obligation.

The Budget Bill for 2018 is based on an agreement between the Government and the Left Party.

Integration of new arrivals

Same requirements for new arrivals as for other jobseekers

The integration of newly arrived immigrants in working life and Swedish society must be more effective. Therefore, a new regulation for the integration of new arrivals in working life and Swedish society will enter into force on 1 January 2018. The regulatory changes will harmonise the regulation of new arrivals' integration in working life and Swedish society to a greater extent with the regulations that apply to other jobseekers.

This harmonisation will mean that the right to an introduction plan will be removed and replaced with a referral to a labour market policy programme, that a proportional system of measures will be introduced for new arrivals corresponding to what currently applies to other jobseekers, and the processing of introduction benefit will be moved from Arbetsförmedlingen to Försäkringskassan (the Swedish social insurance agency).

Education and training obligation for new arrivals

As of 1 January 2018, the Government will introduce stricter requirements for all unemployed people who are considered to be in need of education and training to undertake training offered within labour market policy. The Government is also introducing an education and training obligation for newly arrived immigrants. The education and training obligation means that all newly arrived immigrants involved in Arbetsförmedlingen's introduction measures and who are considered in need of education and training to find work can be instructed to apply for and undertake education and training.

The education and training obligation makes clear the individual's responsibility to, within the framework of their introduction, obtain the skills necessary to be matched to a job or to take part in labour market policy measures or continue studying.

The Government considers that the municipalities should be allocated funding to better meet the education and training needs of newly arrived immigrants and therefore intends to raise the standard compensation for municipalities' reception of newly arrived immigrants in 2018. This additional funding amounts to SEK 301 million in 2018, SEK 467 million in 2019 and SEK 378 million from 2020 onwards.

Enhanced work training as a measure within the introduction programme

In connection with the introduction of the new regulations for integration on 1 January 2018, the Government intends to make enhanced work training available for participants in the introduction programme too. In the autumn budget, SEK 54 million has been allocated for 2018, SEK 39 million for 2019 and SEK 36 million as of 2020 for enhanced work training.

Increased resources for civic information within early measures

Information about how Swedish society works is crucial for those who have recently arrived in Sweden. It is important that asylum seekers receive information as quickly as possible about the basic principles of the Swedish system, gender equality and what applies with regard to the rights and obligations of the individual.

The Government therefore proposes that the funds for early measures be increased by SEK 39 million in 2018, SEK 39 million in 2019 and SEK 38 million from 2020.

Increase in promotion funds for fast tracks

The Government wants newly arrived immigrants in Sweden to quickly find a job that is relevant to the individual's education and experience. At the same time, there is a shortage of labour in many sectors. These sectors are now receiving help to find the skills they need thanks to cooperation between Arbetsförmedlingen, the social partners and industry on fast tracks.

To increase resources to the social partners' work on fast tracks, the Government proposes that the funds for special promotion and development measures be increased by SEK 20 million in 2018 and SEK 35 million in 2019.

Labour market

The Government's objective is that Sweden will have the lowest unemployment rate in the EU by 2020. The Swedish labour market is now developing strongly. The number of people in employment has increased by more than 200 000 since the Government entered office in 2014, and youth unemployment is at its lowest since 2003. The Government's reforms have contributed to strong growth, a rapid increase in employment and a decrease in unemployment, and this will continue in 2018. In 2018, unemployment is expected to be below 6 per cent.

Introductory jobs – simpler and more effective employment support

Subsidised employment is an efficient way of getting people with weaker links to the labour market into work. For this support to function effectively, it must be adapted to the needs of jobseekers and employers. The Government therefore proposes that the current forms of employment support be merged and simplified. Five forms of support will become one – introductory jobs.

This reform will make processing more straightforward and remove unnecessary differences. There will also be less administration for employers. Introductory jobs provide more effective support for those with the greatest needs. This support can be combined flexibly with education and training. At the same time, the ceilings for support and introductory jobs will be harmonised in a benefit qualifying gross salary of SEK 20 000 per month, which is a considerable increase compared with the support being replaced. New start jobs and extra jobs will remain in place.

Gradual increase of the wage subsidies ceiling

Since the Government took office, work has been under way to raise the wage subsidies ceiling. The first increase was introduced at the beginning of the year. In the Budget Bill for 2018, it is proposed that the wage subsidies ceiling be raised further.

This autumn, the Government intends to raise the current ceiling from SEK 17 100 per month in benefit qualifying gross salary to SEK 18 300; in 2019 the ceiling will be raised to SEK 19 100 and will amount to SEK 20 000 in 2020. This is the same amount as the ceilings for introductory jobs, extra jobs and new start jobs. The proposal also includes a corresponding increase for jobs in sheltered employment with public sector employers.

SEK 500 million to municipalities and county councils

Extra jobs have given municipalities, county councils and private health and social care providers the opportunity to gain an extra resource to support their activities. Long-term unemployed people and newly arrived immigrants can also be employed in certain cultural, sports and social activities. To further encourage municipalities and county councils to employ long-term unemployed people and newly arrived immigrants, the Government is allocating special municipality support of SEK 500 million in the autumn budget to support those who take a major responsibility in employing people who are furthest from the labour market.

More secure unemployment insurance fund

The Government is further improving protection for people who become unemployed. In the autumn budget, the Government is setting aside funds to reduce the number of initial qualifying days in unemployment insurance from seven to six days. The Government is allocating SEK 30 million in the Budget Bill for 2018, followed by SEK 60 million for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Increased funding to Samhall

Samhall has an important role to play in employing people with disabilities and who cannot find work any other way or through other measures. The Government intends to increase funds to the company to improve the possibility of fulfilling the labour market policy remit and to create more transitions to employment outside the company, and to increase the number of jobs in sheltered employment.

Increased activity support for young people with disabilities to be phased out

There is currently a form of support allowing young people with disabilities to receive increased activity support if they have taken part in the programme for a certain period of time. This increase in compensation after more time spent in the programme deviates from other compensation systems and risks lengthening the period of unemployment. The Government's assessment is that this is not fit for purpose.

The Government proposes that the increased activity support for young people with disabilities be phased out by not granting this right to increased activity support to any new people once the change has been implemented.

Loans for driving lessons

To improve opportunities to enter the labour market, the Government intends to introduce the possibility of taking out a loan for driving lessons for a category B driving licence.

The loan will finance driving lessons at approved driving schools and is intended in the first phase for certain unemployed people between 18 and 47 years of age. To help improve upper secondary school completion rates, the Government intends, in the second phase, to expand the opportunity in 2019 to include people aged 19–20 who have completed their upper secondary education.

Working life

New work environment agency to be located in Gävle

To strengthen national and international work environment efforts, the Government has decided to establish a new agency for work environment awareness. The remit for the new agency will be to collate and disseminate knowledge about the work environment. The agency will also evaluate and analyse labour market policy, focus on occupational health issues and support the Government in international work environment efforts. The new agency will be up and running on 1 June 2018 and will be located in Gävle.