EEPO Review:Upskilling unemployed adults. March 2015 - Sweden
Labour market training for adult unemployed has a long tradition in Sweden and constitutes a significant part of the Swedish ALMP. Since the global financial crisis and the considerable increase of the rate of unemployment in Sweden, labour market training has focused mainly on long-term unemployed and persons that run a high risk of leaving the labour force. A high number of refugees/immigrants have also been enrolled in labour market training as a step to enhance their integration into Swedish society and the labour market.
A general conclusion is that the performance of labour market training has improved during the last decade compared with the 1990s. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis, structural unemployment has risen in Sweden, resulting in an increasing number of non-filled vacancies (See e.g. Swedish public employment service, 2014b). This indicates that an increase number of participants in labour market training could be an efficient instrument to improve the matching process in the labour market and reduce unemployment.
In our view, the increased number of participants in VET could also to a larger extent benefit jobseekers with relatively better prospects of finding a job. One argument for changing the emphasis of VET measures towards short-term unemployed is that labour market training has proved to be effective when directed to areas with a high demand of labour and skill shortage. On the other hand, labour market training remains an expensive measure with potentially high lock-in effects. A significant increase of participants in labour market training programmes could be associated with a decline of the quality of training provided. The use of labour market training therefore should be balanced with other measures such as job practice and jobsearch assistance.
The Swedish experience illustrates also the key role played by the governance of labour market training, in particular the active involvement of local actors and stakeholders. The close cooperation of actors at the central and the local level regarding the type, the content and the provision of labour market training insures that the measures are adapted to local conditions and efficient by easing the matching process in the labour market. Regional projects, implying cooperation between several municipalities within a region appear to be a fruitful solution in this respect.