Report: Skills shortage hampers growth in Sweden

3:58 min

A shortage in skilled workers is stifling economic growth and threatening employment opportunities in Sweden, according to the national employment agency.

The Swedish Employment Agency released its Spring forecast report on Wednesday and it shows that there is a shortage in skilled workers both within the public and private sectors.

When it comes to the public sector, health care and education are most affected, Andreas Mångs, a labour-market analyst at the Swedish Employment Agency, told Radio Sweden.

"Basically, what's behind the problem is the huge population increase that Sweden has experienced recently, which, in itself, creates a huge demand for workers in these sectors. But we have also had a long-time shortage specifically within the municipal sector where we are lacking nurses and school and kindergarten teachers."

Too few Swedes are choosing to enter professions like nursing and teaching, said Mångs. That, coupled with high labour demands, means Sweden is in a situation where employers are not able to expand to the extent they wish to, explained Mångs. He added that the situation will likely worsen in 2017.

Compared to the public sector, in the private sector the skills shortages are to a higher extent concentrated to a few occupations. Mångs singled out the information and communication technology and construction sectors as particularly vulnerable.

There is no single solution to addressing Sweden's skills shortages, said Mångs. Instead, the key is "to work on many fronts at the same time".

"For some occupations it's about raising the attractiveness of certain jobs, for instance through higher wages or improved working conditions. For other occupations it's about changing the image of the job. For instance, we have a lack of industrial workers and many young people aren't choosing to study relevant subjects because they perceive industrial-sector jobs as dirty and heavy, which is not true in 2016 in Sweden."

Mångs insisted that young people need to be educated and informed about what different jobs are like and what the job opportunities are within various sectors and occupations. “We have to give them a decent chance to make well-informed labour-market choices,” he said.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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