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An analysis of the process and conditions of employment at Samhall AB (2017:7)

The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has analysed, on behalf of the Swedish Government, how the composition of the individuals employed at Samhall AB (“Samhall”) have changed over time in relation to the company’s assigned task and mandate, how Samhall’s efforts and activities affect those who may be assigned to sheltered employment, along with the Swedish Public Employment Service’s process and control of assignments for sheltered employment under the auspices of Samhall. The analysing of the investment in personal developmentjobs for younger people with disabilities  at Samhall has also been included in the assignment.

Samhall is a state-owned limited liability company with nearly 23,000 employees. Samhall has a clearly stated societal mandate and social mission, which is to provide work for people with a functional impairment that cause them to have an impaired capacity to work. At the same time, the company is a commercial business, in the sense meaning that the company produces goods and services for which there is a demand in the market and thus generate a return on its equity capital.

The composition among of those assigned to sheltered employment at Samhall has changed

Lower proportion of persons with reduced impaired mobility, but increased proportion of foreign-born

Our investigation shows that the composition of those assigned to sheltered employment at Samhall has changed. Individuals with impaired mobility are referred here to an increasingly lesser degree. At the same time, the proportion of people with cognitive impairment and general impairment of learning capacity and development skills, as well as people with multiple disabilities, has increased.

The National Bureau’s investigation also shows that the proportion of clients who are foreigner-born has increased over the past decade. The proportion is high in relation to other employment with wage support aimed at people with a functional impairment that result in an impaired capacity to work.

Capacity for engaging in work has increased

Our survey, which was conducted by interviews, shows that the capacity for engaging in among the group assigned to Samhall’s core assignment has increased. Based on our analysis, it is our assessment that the proportion of people with major needs for support and adaptation has become fewer, and in general the demands on the employees have been tightened. At the same time, it is clear from our interviews that the individuals assigned to the core mandate still have a weak position in the labour market and a significant need for support and guidance. 

Samhall’s efforts and activities affect who can be assigned to Samhall

Our investigation shows that the requirements placed on the employees to be able to work at Samhall have changed as Samhall’s operations have been changed. Over the past few decades, the company’s activities have been dominated by industrial production in the company’s own workshops, consisting primarily of service production at the customers’ premises. There are other, and generally more stringent, demands on employees in Samhall’s service production than in industrial production.

The change of Samhall’s business operations has affected those assigned to the company

The change in Samhall’s business operations can largely be attributed to the overall developments in the Swedish economy, where industrial production has become exposed to low-wage competition to a greater degree and the service sector has increased in terms of financial importance. Added to this is the Swedish Government’s governance of the company. While Samhall has a designated societal mandate, at the same time it is also being managed as a commercial company under market conditions with a requirement to generate a return on its equity capital. For several years, the cost-plus compensation that is received by Samhall for its mandate has remained at the same level, while the company’s wage costs have increased in pace with the general increase in wages. All in all, it means that Samhall needs to continuously achieve financial growth in order to achieve the financial goals the Swedish Government has established for the company. Statskontoret assesses that the changes in Samhall’s business operations have affected whom is those assigned to the company. At the same time, while industrial production with relatively significant possibilities for adapting work tasks has fallen, Samhall has grown in sectors where the demands placed on employees are relatively high and uniform. Samhall has grown especially in the field of cleaning and upkeep of premises where the requirements concerning physical mobility and social skills are relatively high.

Lack of variation and variety limits the personal developmental work

Statskontoret assesses that Samhall’s employee process, which structures the company’s efforts with facilitating the personal growth and development of the employees, is systematic and well-anchored in its operations. Our investigation shows however that the possibilities for facilitating the personal growth of the employees are limited by what customer assignments Samhall has received. In some places, the variation in activity or sector is small, limiting both who can be assigned to Samhall and within which occupational roles the employees can be developed. Overall, Statskontoret assesses that Samhall would need to grow in a variety different sectors in order be able to offer more varied work tasks and thus be better able to fulfil its societal mandate. 

Samhall has been able to have a greater influence over whom the Swedish Public Employment Service assigns to Samhall’s core assignment

Our investigation shows that there has been a gradual shift in approach o from the situation where the Swedish Public Employment Service has more or less independently assigned people to sheltered employment, to where Samhall communicates clear requirements in a dialogue with the Swedish Public Employment Service. This dialogue also often establishes a consensus between the parties about whom should be assigned to employment in the company in order for this to function properly for all concerned. However, Statskontoret can note that this change is not reflected in the governing and support documents describing how the process for referral is to take place. Nor has the Swedish Public Employment Service carried out any follow-ups or evaluations where the agency has analysed if sheltered employment at Samhall is used as a last resort for people who cannot get their needs met through other measures.

The municipalities’ activities often constitute an alternative for people are positioned far outside the labour market

Our investigation shows that municipal employment often fulfils the function that Samhall’s activities previous fulfilled. The municipalities often provide temporary time-limited simpler jobs for individuals on financial assistance which is specially adapted to a large degree to the needs of the individual. In recent years, the municipalities have expanded their labour market activities in general, which indicates that they are increasingly important sources where support is offered and efforts are made to provide assistance for people who are positioned the furthest outside the labour market. At the same time, our interviews show that it is often difficult to find suitable interventions for a growing group of jobseekers with an ever-increasing need for adaptation and support.

The personal development jobs at Samhall work well overall

Since 2012, a special effort has been made on time-limited employment at Samhall in order to strengthen the ability to work for younger people with disabilities. The investigation shows that the focus on investment in personal development jobs at Samhall works well to a large degree. The measures taken fulfil a purpose as a complement to other initiatives for young people with disabilities who are unemployed. The initiatives mean that many young people with no previous work experience gain first contact with working life and the labour market, and can develop their interpersonal social skills and ability to work together with others.  At the same time, Statskontoret notes a risk that the managers have too little time for guidance and tutoring, and that the limited variation in the tasks inhibits the personal development work.

Local differences in working methods

Statskontoret also assesses that there are significant differences in the Swedish Public Employment Service’s work with personal development employment between different offices, both in terms of preparation for the efforts and possible extensions of the efforts. Our assessment is that these differences are not justified by differences in local conditions. Therefore, the authority should analyse the reasons for these differences more closely and take appropriate measures.

A lower proportion have employment after 180 days

Our investigation shows that relatively many of those who drop out of their personal development work at Samhall do so to take up employment with another employer. At the same time, there is a lower proportion of those who have left a personal development job at Samhall who 180 days later have gainful employment as compared with those who have had a personal development employment with another employer. The difference may be due to differences in the composition of the groups in question, or differences between the various employers regarding opportunities to offer continued employment. Our assessment is that there are reasons for the Swedish Public Employment Service to focus on, in cooperation with Samhall, these differences and to continue working on the issue of how efforts to promote lasting new jobs can be developed.