City of Solna, Sweden
The City of Solna, Sweden has developed an effective model for the labour market integration of newly arrived refugees and migrants. The ‘Solna Model’ takes a systematic, relationship-based approach to support unemployed refugees and migrants in entering employment or education. The model is based on close collaboration between the participants (job seekers), the Public Employment Services (PES), the City of Solna’s Employment and Skills Office and local and regional employers (public and private).
Collaboration with local businesses is a major component of the model. Over the years, the City has encouraged and maintained a positive business climate and good conditions for local enterprises. These measures to improve economic growth are also intended to contribute to a sustainable local society. Thus, when the City helps businesses, the businesses are also expected to give back and support the local community, and one way for businesses to give back is by providing suitable jobs to people in need of employment.
By facilitating employment and education, and promoting these over income support, the Solna Model leads to faster integration, faster language learning, more people working and less exclusion, which also eases tensions in the local community.
Areas of integration covered by practice
Integration of migrants in the labour market
Background and purpose
The large number of refugees seeking and receiving asylum in Solna and Sweden during 2015–2016 required an adjustment to the City’s existing labour market integration model to meet the needs of this specific group.
The Solna Model was created in 2003 to decrease the number of households receiving income support from the municipality and to reduce unemployment in Solna. It has been continuously developed since then, with adjustments in response to changes in the labour market and the needs of people who have difficulty in finding a job. The specific model for newly arrived migrants and refugees was implemented initially in October 2017.
How does it work?
The Solna Model
The Solna Model is the City’s systematic, relationship-based approach to support unemployed migrants and refugees in employment or education. The model is built on trust and respect, with the aim to do everything possible (e.g., support, training, education, prolonged job interviews, internships) to assist an unemployed person in finding a job. At the same time, the model fosters and provides relevant competences to local businesses and public employers.
Newly arrived migrants and refugees are offered a two-year establishment programme by the Public Employment Service (PES), which provides activities and education that promote learning Swedish, finding a job and becoming self-sufficient. The PES refers unemployed newly arrived migrants and refugees to the City based on their motivation and ability to work (e.g., command of Swedish language). Following the referral, a group of highly qualified Business Development Coordinators at the City’s Employment and Skills Office support the newly arrived migrants and refugees in finding employment or entering educational pathways.
The main building blocks of the Solna model are:
One important aspect of the model is to not only map a participant’s formal qualifications, education and experience but also to use dialogue to get to know the participant and reveal hidden competences and skills. Coaching, support or matching of participants to employment opportunities can thus be decided together with the participants, based on their full potential.
Collaboration with local businesses
The City of Solna collaborates with the local business community and has been ranked as Sweden’s most business-friendly municipality for the 11th year in a row. In addition to providing good conditions for businesses, the City assists employers in finding suitable candidates for available jobs. The City therefore has fast processes to connect people with the local labour market.
The relationship between the City and the local business community is built on mutual trust. For example, the municipality will not send inappropriate candidates for a job opening, while the employers will not misuse public financing for employment.
30 per cent of residents in Solna are foreign-born, and 36 per cent have a foreign background (either foreign-born or born in Sweden with two parents born abroad). Integration and diversity issues are mainstreamed into all the work of the City’s Employment and Skills Office. This is also reflected in the way the support team is put together. The members of the staff complement each other in age, gender, ethnicity, educational background, etc.
Results and evaluation
The Solna Model for newly arrived migrants and refugees began operating in October 2017. In 2018, 71.4 per cent of participants found a job or started an educational course. According to PES statistics for 2018, Solna had the lowest unemployment rate for foreign-born residents in the entire country.
The City’s staff follow up with the participants every month or two months. The Employment and Skills Committee monitors employment rates closely. The City monitors and allows monitoring of employment rates through interim and annual reports. The unemployment rate for foreign-born citizens in April 2019 was 7.9 per cent in Solna. This compares to 12.8 per cent in Stockholm County and 18.8 per cent in Sweden.
In 2018, the Employment and Skills Office had a net budget of 40 million SEK (approximately 3.7 million EUR). The Office is responsible for employment measures, including development of the Solna model, establishment and integration support, adult education and training.
The PES funds two additional, full-time Business Development Coordinators who focus on employment/education of migrants and refugees. The Coordinators are employed by and placed in the city.
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- City of Solna