I'm picking up the thread here on May 24th. This blog was initially drafted on February 21st, i.e before Ukraine was invaded. Things have most certainly changed since then and an updated version is what you see here. We'd like to share the trends we see this year so we can help our #TA, and #SwedishHR contacts plan and adjust.
Already early this year we saw increased mobility between companies. The war for talent is real and companies were bidding over one another to get skilled employees. Given that we do employment-based immigration we definitely saw firsthand how the same prospective employee showed up with several companies.
Redundancies provide opportunities to find talent already in Sweden
Now in late May 2022, many companies are reducing their workforces by 10% or more so Talent Acquisition teams have opportunities to find new employees that are ready to start right away and without the relocation services being needed.
A word of caution, while there are many advantages to finding local skilled talent that has work permits, bank accounts, and housing already, there are still things you must check.
CHECKLIST when you hire foreign talent
1. It's the responsibility of HR/TAs to check the current permit's validity. It's not always so easy to see whether a person may change jobs without further action. In the first 24 months, the person is tied to the employer and role, while in the second period an employee may change employer, but must stay in exactly the same role. Few talented people change employers without that being part of a career path, hence in most cases, a new permit is needed.
2. Even when you hire someone already in Sweden, the role must be advertised. The Migration Agency in Sweden will announce new requirements on June 1st. More documents are needed than before and the timelines can be expected to be longer.
3. When you find a skilled worker already in Sweden, it¨s good to know that many companies in Stockholm, Malmö, and Gothenburg sign housing leases on behalf of their employees. Not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. If you hire a person that is already here, you may need to assume some of the responsibilities and services that the candidate has already rendered by the current employer. It's all about benchmarking and employer branding, we see that companies that offer comprehensive relocation packages are preferred by the prospects.
4. Savvy prospects will ask whether your company is on the certified list at the Migration Agency for faster applications. they have already heard of long timelines and not being able to travel during the renewal. In June, we will see a new VISA that will actually allow travel while the Migration Agency is processing the application. This is welcome news, many have missed weddings, funerals, and important family gatherings not least during the pandemic.
Difficulties with Swedish immigration
We have seen an increase in the technical difficulties at a variety of government agencies this year along with being understaffed. Timelines are getting increasingly longer and the Swedish Personal Numbers still take a very long time.
Banking is increasingly difficult in Sweden
Any company that can lean on their banks should do so in order to get bank accounts for their new employees. In the old days, the banks offered free credit cards, favorable mortgages, and stellar services to their corporate client's employees. Some corporates make sure their banks live up to the service level that they want their co-workers to experience when they move to Sweden.
UK companies don't have representation in Sweden, EORs provide solutions
The flurry around Brexit is almost forgotten. All UK residents that qualified for residency with an easy application are now settled, while UK companies are now aware of the visa requirements. However, it seems that we have had many more UK nationals working in Sweden than we knew. Many employees don't have a local company that is their natural employer and contractors have had to find other solutions. While payroll has been a concept for many years, EOR, Employer on the record, and PEOs, Professional Employment Organizations are all of a sudden something that we work with daily. Mostly for UK nationals and construction work although some start-ups need to go that route while solidifying finances and have a first positive Annual report. This middleman will assume all employment responsibilities and the approach is for most companies something that is an investment in the future. Often we see that the local Swedish EOR/PEO firms are helpful in setting up a local branch office and eventually employees are moved over to their own entity. It's of course, a more costly model, but it does allow operations that would otherwise not be possible.
Timelines at the Swedish Migration Agency are getting longer
The Fast track option that Nimmersion was the first company to be elected to receive around 10 years ago has been a blessing to our clients. In order to represent companies, they must also go through qualifications to benefit from this possibility. We have seen that it's harder to get qualified, the time it takes to get approved has doubled since last year and the guidelines for what is needed to apply are tighter. Yet, most of our clients still get the chance to both apply and most often get approval.
Housing shortage in 2022
For some time during the pandemic, it was a little bit easier to find housing, however, when the wheels started turning they did so very quickly and we are back to a very tight housing market. Supply is limited, a great deal of movement within the EU has caused a limited supply in many locations and our partners around Europe are also struggling. The shortage has put the landlords in the driver's seat and they choose tenants and request corporate leases. We have very little negotiation room in this situation so home findings are as hard in 2022 as in 1995. Sad state of affairs.
Real estate prices were on the rise at the beginning of the year, increasing by 15% in January while increased interest rates are cooling things off a little.
Talking about trends can't be done without thinking about the large number of refugees that are displaced in Europe. Many have also moved to Sweden and we see that they are often well connected and have friends and family here. Many have moved in with people they know already, and banks and authorities have done their best to accommodate a big group that came in a short amount of time. The welcoming of Ukrainian women and children has been done well and is still in the works. Of course, the children are welcome in the schools and also in kindergarten, which means it will be harder to find pre-K places when many young children move at once. Sweden did that well in 2015/2016 and we get positive reports that it works.
The Swedish trends are clear;
- Talent shortage continues and more movement between companies occurs.
- Immigration changes to the law and processes are ongoing, information is shared late and changes are required retroactively which causes delays and additional administration.
- It's harder to get certified for the fast track at the Swedish Migration Agency
- Brexit has amounted to new service companies being used to get UK nationals to Sweden quickly.
- Housing is still scarce and corporate leases are required.
- The tax authority and civic registration are very slow. Swedish personal numbers are needed for most things, where it's possible we have workarounds.
- Banks are struggling with money laundering laws and as a consequence, they are difficult to get a working relationship with. It takes a very long time to be able to open a bank account.
- The Swedish NATO application seems to comfort expats that it is safe to live in Sweden.