UK could learn from Sweden to aid jobs recovery

A new report warns that long-term unemployment remains "worryingly high" despite recent increases in jobs.

The IPPR think-tank said the UK could learn lessons from Sweden's response to tackling unemployment after a recession by investing more in education and jobs programmes.

The number of people out of work for more than a year increased by 13,000 to almost 900,000 in the quarter to August, with new unemployment figures expected later today.

There are some big lessons for the UK to learn from Sweden's deficit reduction programme in the second half of the 1990s.

Sweden was hit by a major financial crisis in the early 1990s, which pushed the deficit up to 10% of GDP, the highest in the OECD, while unemployment tripled. But between 1994 and 1998 the Social Democratic government turned a large deficit into a surplus while investing heavily in programmes to tackle unemployment.

Key to the government's strategy was the drive to raise the employability of the long-term unemployed through innovative employment and training programmes. The Social Democrats prioritised investment in education, training and job subsidies over spending on benefits.

These policies improved the skills base of Swedish workers with an eye to the long-term and gave unemployed people a chance to gain real, paid experience and a recent reference. The UK can learn a lot from the Swedish experience.

– Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at the IPPR

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Unemployment down by 49,000

Unemployment has fallen to its lowest total for over a year. However, there has been an increase in the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance.