In Ockelbo, 20-25 people have gained a foothold in the Swedish labor market thanks to the city's textile service company. A project that together with the municipality and the Employment Service has been extremely successful.
- Although the textile service industry encompasses an advanced and increasingly computer-controlled machinery, it still has some so-called simpler tasks. Not all industries have it. We are therefore good at offering the first job, explains Kenneth Fäldt, site manager at Berendsen Textil Service in Ockelbo.
Great employer with first job
The industry is a major employer of newcomers, young people and persons without completed upper secondary education, which is visible in the statistics. According to Statistics Sweden's survey in 2013, more than half, 55 per cent of the employees in the professional group "machine operators, bleaching, dyeing and washing", were born in a country other than Sweden.
It is also an industry that is growing and hoping to grow further. The hygiene requirements in, among other things, healthcare and home care provide a push for industrial laundry that can offer authorized processes. The number of employees in the textile service industry has increased by 20 percent since 2011.
Got training in languages and jobs
This was an advantage when Berendsen Textil Service together with the municipality and the Employment Service two years ago initiated a special project for new arrivals, most of whom came from Iraq and Eritrea. At the same time as they learned Swedish (SFI), they also had to practice in the laundry. When summer came, they had preference for the summer job and thus already had the skills.
- They got to know what it is like to be in an industry. It is a significant experience. For some, this led to permanent jobs and temporary work - with us but also at other companies, says Kenneth Fäldt.
During that period, the laundry received a large influx of customers and assignments, which meant that it was possible to employ all trainees, a positive development for all parties.
A great social responsibility
The initial project has been completed but the idea is to resume it. Berendsen Textil Service has around 90 employees in Ockelbo and is the largest employer in the municipality.
- Ockelbo is a small town with 6 inhabitants and we have close contact with municipal management and employment services. This means that we feel a particular social responsibility. It is not just new arrivals that we help. We also work for others who are far from the labor market. Among other things, we have a collaboration with Samhall, emphasizes Kenneth Fäldt.
Commitments are A and O
To succeed with the introductions, Berendsen set up Textile Service with dedicated supervisors. That the management also had commitment was a prerequisite.
- Otherwise it will not work. The project does not roll by itself, constant follow-up is required. Although we classify the job as simpler, it is not possible to start directly in the sorting or finishing process. But with qualified guidance, you can learn the tasks in a few weeks time. However, this does not apply to all tasks.
In the dining room seemed the result
From the first internship job to today running the technically advanced wash tubes, such examples show a successful project. However, Kenneth Fäldt talks about something else when describing the most important result.
- We saw it clearly in the dining room. From the beginning, everyone sat in the islands, but afterwards they moved together, started talking to each other and trained their Swedish. Then we would have achieved something really valuable.
Told for Ulf Silfverström