Swedish town exports its unemployed to Norway

October 31, 2012

The jobless rate in the eurozone rose to a new high of 11.6 percent Wednesday, according to Eurostat, and in several European countries, unemployment figures are actually depressed because of a rise in emigration as young people seek work abroad.

So what do you do when you're a town of 12,000 with a youth unemployment problem?

Make it some other town's problem, apparently.

Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
(Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

A town in Eastern Sweden is sending its out-of-work to neighboring Oslo, Norway, where the unemployment rate is 3.3 percent.

The partnership between the city of Söderhamn, about 150 miles north of Stockholm, and Sweden's National Public Employment Service offers unemployed young people a month-long preparation course, paid transit to Oslo and a month of free accommodation in the Norwegian capital.

"Once in Norway, the jobless young Swedes also receive help from job coaches from Nordjobb, a service that arranges jobs for young people in the Nordic countries," Sweden's the Local reported.

So far, nearly 100 people have entered the program.

"I came here on a Thursday and had a job by Monday morning. It went that fast. It felt almost unreal, like I'd come to the promised land," said Andreas Larsson, who had been unemployed for two years in Sweden but now works as a truck driver in Oslo.

Overall, Sweden still has a relatively low unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, but this is far from the only instance of cross-border job searches in Europe since the economic crisis there began several years ago. In Berlin, for example, Siemens is recruiting apprentices from Greece and other countries to add to its class of German trainees. 

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Max Fisher | October 31, 2012