The internships were designed to introduce asylum seekers to the Swedish labour market and to employers. More than 13,000 people took part in the internship programme in 2016, but the Ministry of Employment has now decided to scrap the scheme and invest in those who have been granted residence permits.
“As the Migration Agency’s processing times shrink, more people get residence permits and that means we need more internships for those who have residence permits,” Anders Kessling, a senior official at the Ministry of Employment, told Swedish Radio.
The internships, which were unpaid, had been criticised for exploiting asylum seekers as free labour. That criticism has played into the decision to end the scheme, according to Kessling.
“That was one aspect that could be taken into consideration. But most of all we wanted to shift the focus and invest in internships for the many new arrivals who are about to take the first step onto the labour market,” Kessling said.
Courses, information and coordinated efforts aimed at asylum seekers will replace the internships.