Johan Pehrson (L): Education must combat unemployment

Johan Pehrson (L): Education must combat unemployment

Johan Pehrson is Minister of Labor Markets and Integration and party leader for the Liberals. He is interviewed by Cecilia Strömberg Wallin.

Unemployment is predicted to increase as Sweden approaches a recession, at the same time as there is a shortage of labor in industry and healthcare.
How many of the unemployed can take the jobs that are available? How much potential is there in channeling the unemployed to those jobs?

We are heading into a recession, what is the main ingredient in your recipe to combat unemployment?

– It is to focus on education, to make people employable for the jobs that are available. There are many jobs in Sweden that are vacant, we lack bus drivers, we lack train drivers, police officers, people in healthcare, says Johan Pehrson.

– Then it is necessary to focus on training for those who are currently unemployed and have done so or those who are now added and then the focus is on training.

These matching problems have existed for a long time. What will you do differently than the previous government?

– We believe that it is central that there is a focus on efficiency in the labor market policy, the efforts that are made must be very close to the workplace and there must be an expectation that they will lead to regular jobs in the long run, which is why we focus, for example, very much on New Start jobs instead for Extra services that the previous government was a little enamored with. We focus on Establishment jobs as part of the transition support. And we invest in internships.

But at the same time you cut back on labor market policy programs that are usually said to be needed more when there is a recession, so why do you do it? It is for those who are further from the labor market who need help.

– The efforts we make in the labor market programs and efforts and wage subsidies and Samhall amount to quite a few billions. It must be remembered that now we have had an economy that has gone in the right direction after the pandemic, where many people have entered the labor market, the establishment time has been shortened, for example. We are happy about that, and many reforms are behind this. But it is also crucial that the Employment Service should have the opportunity to work with the people who are the furthest from the labor market. And then you add this with complementary actors, they relieve a lot of the burden, and the transition support that is now de facto in place, which means that people are both equipped and protected before people who are then in work. And if you then end up unemployed, there is a lot of help for adjustment outside the Employment Service.

Less money for adult education

In the government’s state budget, state support for adult education has been reduced by more than one billion compared to last year. Why are you cutting back on money for education if it is so important?
– We share the assessment made by the previous government which said that now is the time in 2023 to end the extensive investments that have been made to deal with the pandemic and now we are returning to levels that are very high for both polytechnics and public education in the broad perspective. But it is clear that it is a reduction compared to the pandemic. But it should be fairly uncontroversial, says Johan Pehrson.

The negotiations with the SD on labor immigration are “jamming”.

Last year, 27,000 labor immigrants from third countries, outside the EU, came to Sweden. There were IT technicians, engineers, berry pickers and kitchen staff, among others.
According to the Tidö agreement, the minimum wage must be raised from around 13,000 to around 33,000 kroner, the exact figure must be returned by an investigation. The purpose is to deal with cheating and exploitation.

According to tasks in Dagens Industri, the negotiations between the cooperation parties on labor immigration have stalled because the Liberals and the Sweden Democrats cannot agree on which professional groups should be exempted from the wage requirement. Johan Pehrson says that the negotiations are stalling but that they agree to raise the salary requirement.

– We agree that exceptions should be made, but that is where we are now discussing, because what we agreed on between the cooperation parties in the Tidö Agreement was the work plan, now we are going into the details, how will this look out? And then I don’t want to preempt that negotiation with you here on the radio. But we have those discussions. But the Liberals are on the side of industry’s needs. But they may still think that the salary level is too high and there are too few exceptions. But we see them and, above all, I hear them.

Can the Sweden Democrats also consider exceptions?

– Yes, we have the wording that we have in the Tidö Agreement.

But now then?

– As I said, we must honor that agreement.

Guest: Johan Pehrson (L), Minister for Labor Market and Integration
Host: Cecilia Strömberg Wallin
Comment: Fredrik Furtenbachdomestic political commentator at Ekot
Producer: Maja Lagercrantz
Technician: Jacob Gustavsson


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