Could matching skilled immigrants with employers help fill the gaps in Sweden’s workforce?
Author: Léopold Salzenstein
This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early-career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.
When Nahla Elamin arrived in Sweden with her three-year-old daughter, she had little expectation for what was coming. She had decided to leave Sudan some months before, following the death of her husband. “The situation for single mothers and women in my country is not very welcoming,” she recalled over Zoom, “so I took my daughter and left the country.”
In Sudan, Elamin had been working as a mechanical engineer for a large multinational organisation. She spoke fluent English and could travel to Europe for her work.
“I decided to move to Sweden because I didn’t know anybody there, so I picked the country furthest away,” she said. “I didn’t expect life to be easy, because I knew I was starting from zero, but things turned out much better than expected.” After 11 months, Elamin was granted asylum. She found a small apartment for her daughter and herself. She learned Swedish. Things were going well.
Then, she decided to find a job.
“For someone like me, who has worked all my life, staying at home was really bad mentally,” she remembers, “so I was really focusing on moving fast and finding my way into work. […] I applied to more than 500 jobs and all I got was rejection emails.”