Offering a high standard of living, plenty of job opportunities for skilled workers and a focus on equality and wellbeing, Sweden is a popular choice for graduates looking to broaden their horizons. Author: Emma Knowles, Editor
The Bloomberg Innovation Index 2018 names Sweden as the world's second-most innovative country. Nearly 95% of Sweden's population have access to the internet, compared to just 84% of the US, and the country is home to billion-dollar 'unicorn' tech companies worth nearly $36 billion cumulatively. The nation has also built up a reputation for aiding the growth of start-up businesses.
This Scandinavian country also offers a high standard of living, with subsidised public services and a generous holiday allowance. According to the OECD Better Life Index, Sweden ranks above the global average in all fields - including environmental quality, earnings and personal safety.
In your down time, you'll be free to explore the range of cultural and natural delights the country has to offer. Sweden is the world's third-biggest music exporter behind the US and the UK - between experiencing vibrant concerts and thriving night life, you'll be able to sample the Swedish delicacies of meatballs with lingonberry jam or pea soup and pancakes.
Head to the north of the country to witness the northern lights, and in the summer months bask in the 24-hour daylight that gives the so-called 'land of the midnight sun' its name.
Jobs in Sweden
Sweden is recognised for its good working conditions and practices. It combines a capitalist economy with a strong public sector and welfare system. The jobs market is among the strongest in the world.
POPULAR GRADUATE JOBS
More of the world's biggest multinational companies are based in Sweden, including:
The Swedish Migration Agency and Public Employment Agency have compiled a labour shortage list (in Swedish). In 2018, the country is suffering shortages in a range of sectors, from agriculture and engineering to healthcare and construction. If you've got the skills to fill a role that appears on this list, finding work in the country should be relatively straightforward.
How to get a job in Sweden
To apply for a job in Sweden, you'll typically submit a CV and cover letter electronically to a company, and be invited to interview if your application is successful. If you're applying from overseas, this can take place over the phone or via a video call.
Your CV should be one to two pages in length, and your cover letter no longer than a page. Try to match your skills and experience to the job description, outlining why you're the most suitable candidate for the job.
In the interview, be prepared to answer questions that aren't directly job related. You may be asked about your family, marital status and what you do in your spare time.
What you'll need to submit as part of your application will vary between sectors and roles. It's best to contact the employer before starting your application to confirm what's required of you.
Many large companies, such as Ericsson, offer summer training opportunities. Alternatively, you can search for summer jobs online via the Swedish Public Employment Service or job listing sites such as Workaway.info.
Voluntary work is another great way to build your skillset and learn a new language. The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for between two weeks and 12 months.
Essential costs such as accommodation, living and transport expenses are covered by the scheme, with placements ranging from those related to sport and culture, to others focused on social care and the environment.
Teaching English as a foreign language in Sweden is one of the most accessible jobs for native English speakers. However, you'll need to be highly qualified - the profession is regulated to ensure a good quality and standard of teaching across the county.
The majority of Swedish schools are funded by the government, although the number of publically-funded independent schools is increasing over time. Private schools cater to those who can afford the luxury of private classes, as well as the business market looking to boost their global career prospects.
To become an English teacher in Sweden, it's likely you'll need:
a Bachelors degree (or equivalent)
a TEFL certificate
adequate proficiency in Swedish.
For private school positions, you may be expected to have a business background and be fluent in Swedish.
If you have teaching qualifications from the UK or your home country, you can apply for Swedish teaching certification through the National Agency for Education (Skolverket). See Skolverket - Competence & continuing education for more information.
Completing an internship abroad is a great way to get a taste for living in another country while earning a wage and improving your employability prospects.
Organisations offering internships in Sweden include:
IAESTE - in engineering, natural sciences and technical fields
ELSA - trainee exchanges for law students
IFMSA - trainee exchanges for medical students.
Many big companies also have established internship programmes, which you'll find advertised on their websites. However, if you can't find any current vacancies, consider contacting individual companies directly to enquire about opportunities. You'll demonstrate your enthusiasm, and employers will appreciate your proactive approach.
As a graduate, you may want to take a look at Korta vägen. This Swedish Public Employment Service initiative aims to offer foreign academics a fast-track to the nation's jobs market.
If you're a member of the EU you'll be able to move to Sweden without obtaining a work permit or visa. As long as you hold a valid EU passport, you can enter the country with or without an official offer of employment.
Generally, if you're from outside the EU, you'll need to apply for a work permit prior to your arrival. The one-year working holiday visa is an exception to this rule, available to citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea between the ages of 18 and 30.
To apply for a work permit, among other requirements, you'll need to have received an official offer of employment from a Swedish employer. For more information on what you'll need to submit as part of your application, see Sweden.se - Obtaining a work permit.
You can check current waiting times for application processing with the Swedish Migration Agency, although you should apply as early as you can to allow for delays.
If you're planning to stay for a year or more, you'll need to join the Swedish Population Register, which you can do by visiting your local tax office in Sweden.
This visa information is still correct following the UK's decision to leave the EU, and will be updated if changes occur.
Although the country's official language is Swedish, and the majority of the country speaks it as their first language, studying English is compulsory for all Swedish students. Particularly in larger cities, such as Stockholm and Gothenburg, you won't need to be fluent in Swedish to get by.
However, it's worth having at least a grasp of the language, as this will help you to successfully integrate with your community. Consider taking a free beginner's course in Swedish before you arrive, such as Learning Swedish.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
You should find that, in most instances, your UK qualifications are comparable to their Swedish equivalent, and will therefore be fully recognised by employers.
However, if it's necessary to get your qualifications evaluated - for example, to work in a regulated profession - you'll need to visit the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR). You can also view a full list of professions with specific requirements in Sweden.
What it's like to work in Sweden
According to the Swedish Annual Leave Act, full-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days' leave per year, regardless of their occupation or age. If you work part time, your leave is calculated to ensure you receive the equivalent. Swedish Parliament has stipulated a limit of a 40-hour working week.
Sweden does not have a national minimum wage - pay is decided by collective bargaining between trade unions and employers.
Equality and wellbeing in the workplace are big focuses. Dress codes are typically casual and most Swedish companies operate a flat hierarchy, meaning you'll likely be involved in decision making processes and have regular contact with your manager.