Automatgenererad bild.

15 November 2016

From Syria to Sweden’s West Coast thanks to Mistra traineeship

At home in Syria before the war broke out, Fayez Alsaleh was a freshwater aquaculturist. He is an agronomist, now living in Sweden, and through Mistra has been taken on as a trainee at the Kristineberg research station in Fiskebäckskil. There, instead of farming freshwater fish, he looks after marine crustaceans.

When the refugee crisis was most in evidence, at the end of last year, Mistra’s Board felt a need to help out. One way was to offer people with some kind of academic background trainee position in the research programmes funded by the Foundation. The idea was that many of the refugees have both knowledge and experience to offer. But Mistra’s plan was also that trainee positions would make it easier for the refugees to gain a foothold on the labour market while simultaneously getting an opportunity to practise their Swedish.

The project is now under way, and one participant is Fayez Alsaleh from Syria. He is an agricultural economist from Dar’a, a town in Syria near the Iraqi border. There he worked in fish farming for five years, gaining knowledge that is now being put to use in Sweden.

Contributing new knowledge

For the past few weeks, he has worked at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Infrastructure in Kristineberg at the University of Gothenburg. He has joined Nomaculture, one of the Centre’s projects in the AquaAgri research programme. His primary task will be to help Susanne Eriksson in a subproject about lobster farming.

‘Fayez used to work in freshwater aquaculture. The fact that he’s now farming lobster in saltwater isn’t a problem. In practical terms, there are great similarities between what he did before and what we want him to do here with us. In other ways, too, his knowledge and experience will come in very useful, and he’s already shown that he can give us new angles on what we do. So this is a real win-win situation,’ Eriksson says.

Fayez Alsaleh has been in Sweden for two years. During this time, he has held a brief trainee position at Kristineberg in Fiskebäckskil. But that was more of an assisted entry into the labour market, paid for entirely by the Swedish Employment Service, and after just a few months he was told that the rules prevented him from remaining in the position.

Traineeship gives important contacts

In this situation a new opportunity arose: getting a trainee place within the scope of Mistra’s programmes. Mistra covers salary costs, less a payroll grant from the Employment Service.

‘When you’re a newcomer in Sweden, it’s not that easy to get a job. Especially when you don’t know Swedish. Now I’m getting both a chance to practise my Swedish and contact with researchers. The job I’ve been given is really good and I learn new things every day. My dream is to be able to stay on after the trainee period ends,’ Fayez Alsaleh says.

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