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Post-war immigration

Sweden was mostly an emigrating country until refugees escaping World War II began to slowly change it back into an immigrating country, which is what it is today. Migrants from Germany and other Nordic and Baltic countries made up the bulk of immigrants. While many Germans and Scandinavians returned home after the war, many immigrants from the Baltics remained.

The next set of migrants during these decades were workers from Finland, Italy, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey and other Balkan countries who came looking for job opportunities once World War II was over.

The post-war immigration led to a housing shortage in the 1950s. As a consequence, the Swedish government made the radical decision to build 100,000 flats per year between 1965 and 1974, an initiative commonly called the Million Programme.

A short immigration decline

In the 1970s, to control the rapid rise in immigration, the Swedish Migration Board began to regulate the process, especially when it came to workers. People were required to start showing proof of any employment offers, financial support and housing arrangements before they were granted permits to move into the country.

The legislation changes partly explain the immigration decline in Sweden in the early 1970s, as work migration into the country dropped considerably. Many work migrants also returned back to their countries after a few years of work in Sweden, statistically accounting for both immigration and emigration.

The Finns, for instance, returned in masses to Finland where the economy had begun to boom. For a few years starting in 1971, Sweden had more emigration than immigration.

Read more about working in Sweden at work.sweden.se.

 

Jorma Latva, work migrant

(image)

Meet Jorma Latva, who moved from Finland during the peak of the big work migration to Sweden, as a 21-year-old in 1968.

Throughout the 1960s, Sweden was marked by a labour shortage to support its growing economy, which made industrial workers and public servants in particular demand. In neighbouring Finland, the situation was quite the reverse, with many inhabitants having to look abroad for work.

Joined his girlfriend

In the summer of 1968, fresh off completing his military service, Jorma was eager to reunite with his girlfriend Ulla, who had moved to Sweden for a nursing job just a couple of months earlier.

‘Ulla couldn’t find a job, and since she was part of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, Sweden was an even more obvious place to go find work,’ Jorma says. ‘Back then, there were no bureaucracies or permits, just to take the boat across and start working. Everyone in Finland knew that there were plenty of jobs in Sweden.’

‘Everyone in Finland knew that there were plenty of jobs in Sweden.’

For Jorma, the job situation was somewhat different. A skilled welder and metal worker, he was able to find work in Finland, but he stayed and worked for only one week in order to afford a boat ticket across the Baltic Sea.

He does not entirely fit the stereotype of the Finnish work migrant. ‘I didn’t really move to Sweden for work, I moved here for a woman, a Finnish woman,’ he says with a laugh.

Learning Swedish

At the time, Jorma did not speak Swedish. ‘I didn’t much see the point in learning the language at first,’ he says. ‘I didn’t need Swedish in order to be a welder. I got on with my life speaking Finnish and a little bit of English. Besides, I had promised my father I wouldn’t stay in Sweden more than three years, so what would be the point of learning the language?’

He eventually came to realise that learning Swedish would not only help his social life, but also make it easier to find good jobs. ‘It took me a few years before I started learning Swedish, but it has been important, especially for my social life.’

Settling down in Sweden

In the summer of 1969, Jorma and Ulla went back to Finland to get married. For Jorma, it would also lead to a new job, but once again in Sweden rather than Finland.

AB Svenska Fläktfabriken, an industry leader on air treatment, happened to be on a recruitment trip in Finland and offered Jorma a welding job. At this time, it was not uncommon for larger Swedish companies to go to unemployment centres in Finland with incentives to pay for the move to Sweden.

Jorma and his wife settled in Vallentuna, a suburb north of the capital Stockholm, where they still live. Today, they have three grown kids and four grandchildren, all of them Vallentuna residents.

Work freedom

Jorma thinks back to the times he has been offered a job in Finland. ‘Twice in the past forty years I have been close to accepting a job in Finland. The reason I haven’t largely has to do with the work mentality in Sweden.

‘Here, most companies have a flat organisational structure, with few bosses and less need for middle management. There is a lot more trust in workers and their skills, without middle management meddling. Why would I need a team leader to tell me how to weld? There’s just more work freedom in Sweden.’

He is proud of his craft, and still loves to work. In his youth, he sometimes worked through his summer holiday, annoying union representatives. He would exceed the maximum amount of overtime hours and keep on going. ‘The unions had been fighting to get more holiday and here I was, working through all five weeks,’ he says.

Jorma started to collect retirement benefits at age 61, then slowly cut down his work hours until about half-time. He was expecting to be forced into retirement after turning 67. But there is still a shortage of skilled workers in Sweden, and if you ask Jorma, he is far from retirement.

Where is home?

Jorma goes back to Finland every summer with his family. Every year before they go, he longs for Finland. And every year before the summer is over, he misses Sweden. ‘Either I like it both here and there, or maybe it’s that I don’t like it here or there,’ he says with a cheeky smile.

‘Perhaps I should settle somewhere in between, like Åland (Finnish Swedish-speaking island group, editor’s note).’ But after a few moments consideration, he says: ‘No, I still have some time here. Those three years I promised my father still aren’t up. I’ve only been here a little less than three years. They’ve been long years, but they aren’t up yet.’

Jorma Latva was interviewed by Rikard Lagerberg.

 

Silvio Durán Michea, long-term resident

(Image)

Meet Silvio Durán Michea. Originally from Chile, he is a graphic designer who has lived in Sweden for nearly 30 years. He has worked with various Swedish newspapers, magazines and publications, and he is part of the sizable Chilean community who call Stockholm home.

Silvio decided to leave Chile for Sweden during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the country between 1973 and 1990.

Growing political tensions

When Silvio left Chile in 1986 at the age of 23, he was not personally under threat as he was not an activist. But with growing political tensions, he feared for the future and decided to be proactive in terms of protecting himself and his family. Ultimately, he thinks he would have been targeted by the government if he hadn’t moved.

‘I was not yet in danger, but I would have been because barely a year after I left, a few friends of mine became more engaged and committed in overthrowing the dictatorship,’ Silvio says.

‘If I had stayed, I probably would have been pressured (by friends) into various demonstrations and protests, and then my life would have been in direct danger.’

Made Sweden home

He chose Sweden because his sister was already living there at the time. She had touted the country’s virtue as a humanitarian solace for immigrants and asylum seekers looking for a better and more stable life. Today, both of them are residents and citizens of Sweden.

‘It was both a relief and painful to leave friends and families,’ remembers Silvio, who moved to Sweden with ‘the hope to find new horizons for a better life’.

Beginning that new life meant trying to integrate as quickly as possible so he could begin applying his skills and expertise within his new adoptive home.

Language means integration

The most important step in integration is learning the new country’s language, Silvio says. Not only does it help immigrants understand the cultural nuances, but it also opens up work opportunities and social networking doors that may otherwise have remained closed had they not learned the language.

‘It was both a relief and painful to leave friends and families’

I speak fluent Swedish and this has helped me fully integrate into the Swedish society,’ he says. ‘The most important thing is to learn the language and interact with Swedish people because this is the quickest way to understand local customs and culture.’

Fast forward close to 30 years and Silvio has built a stable and more secure life in Sweden. ‘When I moved here, I came from Chile which at that time was run by a dictatorship,’ Silvio notes.

‘Coming to Sweden to stay gave me security. The security and order that I wanted.’

Silvio Durán Michea was interviewed by Lola Akinmade Åkerström.

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Post-war immigration

Sweden was mostly an emigrating country until refugees escaping World War II began to slowly change it back into an immigrating country, which is what it is today. Migrants from Germany and other Nordic and Baltic countries made up the bulk of immigrants. While many Germans and Scandinavians returned home after the war, many immigrants from the Baltics remained.

The next set of migrants during these decades were workers from Finland, Italy, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey and other Balkan countries who came looking for job opportunities once World War II was over.

The post-war immigration led to a housing shortage in the 1950s. As a consequence, the Swedish government made the radical decision to build 100,000 flats per year between 1965 and 1974, an initiative commonly called the Million Programme.

A short immigration decline

In the 1970s, to control the rapid rise in immigration, the Swedish Migration Board began to regulate the process, especially when it came to workers. People were required to start showing proof of any employment offers, financial support and housing arrangements before they were granted permits to move into the country.

The legislation changes partly explain the immigration decline in Sweden in the early 1970s, as work migration into the country dropped considerably. Many work migrants also returned back to their countries after a few years of work in Sweden, statistically accounting for both immigration and emigration.

The Finns, for instance, returned in masses to Finland where the economy had begun to boom. For a few years starting in 1971, Sweden had more emigration than immigration.

Read more about working in Sweden at work.sweden.se.

 

Jorma Latva, work migrant

(image)

Meet Jorma Latva, who moved from Finland during the peak of the big work migration to Sweden, as a 21-year-old in 1968.

Throughout the 1960s, Sweden was marked by a labour shortage to support its growing economy, which made industrial workers and public servants in particular demand. In neighbouring Finland, the situation was quite the reverse, with many inhabitants having to look abroad for work.

Joined his girlfriend

In the summer of 1968, fresh off completing his military service, Jorma was eager to reunite with his girlfriend Ulla, who had moved to Sweden for a nursing job just a couple of months earlier.

‘Ulla couldn’t find a job, and since she was part of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, Sweden was an even more obvious place to go find work,’ Jorma says. ‘Back then, there were no bureaucracies or permits, just to take the boat across and start working. Everyone in Finland knew that there were plenty of jobs in Sweden.’

‘Everyone in Finland knew that there were plenty of jobs in Sweden.’

For Jorma, the job situation was somewhat different. A skilled welder and metal worker, he was able to find work in Finland, but he stayed and worked for only one week in order to afford a boat ticket across the Baltic Sea.

He does not entirely fit the stereotype of the Finnish work migrant. ‘I didn’t really move to Sweden for work, I moved here for a woman, a Finnish woman,’ he says with a laugh.

Learning Swedish

At the time, Jorma did not speak Swedish. ‘I didn’t much see the point in learning the language at first,’ he says. ‘I didn’t need Swedish in order to be a welder. I got on with my life speaking Finnish and a little bit of English. Besides, I had promised my father I wouldn’t stay in Sweden more than three years, so what would be the point of learning the language?’

He eventually came to realise that learning Swedish would not only help his social life, but also make it easier to find good jobs. ‘It took me a few years before I started learning Swedish, but it has been important, especially for my social life.’

Settling down in Sweden

In the summer of 1969, Jorma and Ulla went back to Finland to get married. For Jorma, it would also lead to a new job, but once again in Sweden rather than Finland.

AB Svenska Fläktfabriken, an industry leader on air treatment, happened to be on a recruitment trip in Finland and offered Jorma a welding job. At this time, it was not uncommon for larger Swedish companies to go to unemployment centres in Finland with incentives to pay for the move to Sweden.

Jorma and his wife settled in Vallentuna, a suburb north of the capital Stockholm, where they still live. Today, they have three grown kids and four grandchildren, all of them Vallentuna residents.

Work freedom

Jorma thinks back to the times he has been offered a job in Finland. ‘Twice in the past forty years I have been close to accepting a job in Finland. The reason I haven’t largely has to do with the work mentality in Sweden.

‘Here, most companies have a flat organisational structure, with few bosses and less need for middle management. There is a lot more trust in workers and their skills, without middle management meddling. Why would I need a team leader to tell me how to weld? There’s just more work freedom in Sweden.’

He is proud of his craft, and still loves to work. In his youth, he sometimes worked through his summer holiday, annoying union representatives. He would exceed the maximum amount of overtime hours and keep on going. ‘The unions had been fighting to get more holiday and here I was, working through all five weeks,’ he says.

Jorma started to collect retirement benefits at age 61, then slowly cut down his work hours until about half-time. He was expecting to be forced into retirement after turning 67. But there is still a shortage of skilled workers in Sweden, and if you ask Jorma, he is far from retirement.

Where is home?

Jorma goes back to Finland every summer with his family. Every year before they go, he longs for Finland. And every year before the summer is over, he misses Sweden. ‘Either I like it both here and there, or maybe it’s that I don’t like it here or there,’ he says with a cheeky smile.

‘Perhaps I should settle somewhere in between, like Åland (Finnish Swedish-speaking island group, editor’s note).’ But after a few moments consideration, he says: ‘No, I still have some time here. Those three years I promised my father still aren’t up. I’ve only been here a little less than three years. They’ve been long years, but they aren’t up yet.’

Jorma Latva was interviewed by Rikard Lagerberg.

 

Silvio Durán Michea, long-term resident

(Image)

Meet Silvio Durán Michea. Originally from Chile, he is a graphic designer who has lived in Sweden for nearly 30 years. He has worked with various Swedish newspapers, magazines and publications, and he is part of the sizable Chilean community who call Stockholm home.

Silvio decided to leave Chile for Sweden during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the country between 1973 and 1990.

Growing political tensions

When Silvio left Chile in 1986 at the age of 23, he was not personally under threat as he was not an activist. But with growing political tensions, he feared for the future and decided to be proactive in terms of protecting himself and his family. Ultimately, he thinks he would have been targeted by the government if he hadn’t moved.

‘I was not yet in danger, but I would have been because barely a year after I left, a few friends of mine became more engaged and committed in overthrowing the dictatorship,’ Silvio says.

‘If I had stayed, I probably would have been pressured (by friends) into various demonstrations and protests, and then my life would have been in direct danger.’

Made Sweden home

He chose Sweden because his sister was already living there at the time. She had touted the country’s virtue as a humanitarian solace for immigrants and asylum seekers looking for a better and more stable life. Today, both of them are residents and citizens of Sweden.

‘It was both a relief and painful to leave friends and families,’ remembers Silvio, who moved to Sweden with ‘the hope to find new horizons for a better life’.

Beginning that new life meant trying to integrate as quickly as possible so he could begin applying his skills and expertise within his new adoptive home.

Language means integration

The most important step in integration is learning the new country’s language, Silvio says. Not only does it help immigrants understand the cultural nuances, but it also opens up work opportunities and social networking doors that may otherwise have remained closed had they not learned the language.

‘It was both a relief and painful to leave friends and families’

I speak fluent Swedish and this has helped me fully integrate into the Swedish society,’ he says. ‘The most important thing is to learn the language and interact with Swedish people because this is the quickest way to understand local customs and culture.’

Fast forward close to 30 years and Silvio has built a stable and more secure life in Sweden. ‘When I moved here, I came from Chile which at that time was run by a dictatorship,’ Silvio notes.

‘Coming to Sweden to stay gave me security. The security and order that I wanted.’

Silvio Durán Michea was interviewed by Lola Akinmade Åkerström.

最新更新: 2015/09/24