Laid-off SAS airline staff offered fast-track healthcare training

STOCKHOLM, March 19 (Reuters) - Over a thousand laid-off SAS airline workers in Sweden are being offered fast-track healthcare training to help Sweden’s beleaguered healthcare system to fight the coronavirus.

SAS has laid off 10,000 staff, or 90% of its workforce, temporarily as demand for flights has “more or less disappeared” after many European countries shut their borders or advised against travel.

Sophiahemmet University will run a three-day pilot for 30 people at the end of March with the hope of extending the course to hundreds more shortly.

“There are incredibly competent people who will be able to offer relief to our healthcare immediately after completing the training so that doctors and nurses can to an even greater extent devote themselves to caring for patients,” Johanna Adami, principal at the University said.

The course will be free of charge and the companies involved with the training are not seeking to make a profit. Funding is provided by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg foundation.

The students will be trained in providing information to patients and their families, sterilising beds and equipment and basic administrative duties.

Fredrik Hillelson, CEO at Novare Human Capital, is acting as coordinator and recruiter for the programme. He said around 250 out of 1,100 contacted SAS workers have so far said they want to do the training.

“It is a small bright light in all the darkness to be able to do something positive, not just talking,” he said. “If we can be a positive initative that gets other people to think outside the box, I’m very happy.” (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)