Disruptive: How companies and employees will change the job market — Sweden

Aerate Inc
6 min readJul 19, 2019

-Written by Jonna Ljungblad, Human Resources & Psychology student.

As an HR professional, how well do you know the state of the job market in your country, and what is your view on how it will change?

When focused on details, it’s easy to get lost on the bigger picture. This is why taking a step back and reflecting on what you see can be necessary in terms of deciding the next step. In this blogpost, I’m sharing some thoughts about Sweden and in particular offer an insight into new ways of recruiting talent.

The view from above

According to Forbes, Sweden was the best country for business in 2017. The Independent puts Stockholm next in line to Silicone Valley of producing the most billion-dollar companies in the world. Sweden is the place to be, just look at the giants; IKEA, H&M, Volvo, Spotify … the list goes on. What this proves is that it is possible — you just have to know how to put the pieces together. And in this case, the pieces are the people, the employees.

Knowing the trends and movement in the labour market is essential to any business growth. This is because it might give a hint of what’s flawed and what’s thriving — and what to incorporate into your business planning.

When trying to get a grasp of a macro perspective over the situation that is the Swedish labour market, these are the facts to focus on:

o Manufacturing and Trade are the primary sectors that drive the highest economic value to Sweden.

o In tune with this, the highest level of employment was within Technology and Manufacturing, along with Animal Healthcare, Agriculture and Forestry — all of which account for the employment of 97 % of graduates (SCB).

o However, there has been rising interest in service economy and arts related vocations such as Journalism, Political and Social Sciences. The forecast predicts a surplus in these professions.

o On the contrary, Teachers, Nurses, Dental Hygienists, Pharmacists and Science vocations are predicted to face significant challenges in attracting sufficient talent — if they’re not already.

oLast year’s statistics conclude that the branches that struggled the most with unmet demand was within the areas of Law, Economics, Technology and Construction, among others.

What this tells us, is that Manufacturing and Trade are the sectors that generate the most, and thereby also have the money to expand and grow. Tech companies are popping up like mushrooms, hence the high demand in personnel in these areas. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case for other sectors. These sectors will need to find new ways to attract talent and, essentially, retain that talent.

The challenges ahead

As a member of the new generation of employees, I’ve heard the talk. How difficult it can be to keep us, how we’re never satisfied in the long run. There have been discussions whether it has to do with some dream of wanting to change the world, or maybe because we’re simply spoiled and believe we’re entitled to everything. It’s neither, I’d say. I’ve had enough lectures in psychology to know that this has to do with intrinsic motivation, being supported and given the opportunity to grow as a person. I also know this doesn’t apply for my generation alone, but people in general. This is something money can’t buy, and companies need to realize its importance.

In case companies need any corporate motivation to address these issues, they should study the costs of the turnover of employees. This cost of replacing leavers and training new joiners is generally disproportionately high, as a feature of any business — particularly those where staff turnover is a major challenge. A well-functioning organizational culture that offers support and respect is the key to happy employees who want to stay, and high performance — as well lower turnover cost — is the biproduct.

Being able to attract talent starts with the ability to retain talent. Where employers rank on the index of employee loyalty is increasingly important. Think about it — why would you want to work within an organization where your colleagues come and go in a period of a couple of months? The situation has “Unsustainable” written all over it.

Companies need to adopt and display stability and employee appreciation in their employer branding to attract talent to less appealing vocations. This particularly when it comes to jobs known for demanding work environments and circumstances, where most issues have its origin from being shorthanded. In Sweden, 94 % with a degree and 88 % without a degree are employed — getting a job isn’t the issue, it’s the uneven distribution between the sectors.

However, you can’t solely blame the sectors for failing to recruit enough staff, the educational system also has a vital part in this play. As the main supplier of competent and qualified employees, it is essential that the educational system can keep up with companies’ demand for certain skills. This can only be done through continuous communication, which as of today is inadequate. According to Mid Sweden University, only 20 % of all companies in Sweden cooperate in some way with universities, whereas 74 % of companies says universities are uninterested in collaboration. And so, the labour market suffers.

The solution — changing perceptions

As well as addressing and beginning to deal with the issues of employee loyalty and motivation above, technology can play a crucial part in the solution. This is not technology for the sake of technology, nor bleeding edge. This is harnessing technology to engage employees behind a clear policy geared to retention as much as it is to attraction of new talent.

Technology is single-handedly the most important factor behind the Swedish prosperity and rising standard of living (Svenskt Näringsliv). Digitalization has led to new products, services, business models and even new behaviours in people, which affects companies, the labour market and the global economy as a whole. Needless to say, technology changes the way we look at enterprise and traditional careers, but also what kind of competency is needed in already existing professions. To keep up with the development, Swedish companies are generally quite good at offering on-the-job training. However, it would be too expensive and too risky to compensate for an academic degree.

In comparison to abroad, it’s not as common for domestic companies to offer graduate/trainee programmes. Instead, universities often include an unpaid internship as part of a BA/BSc course. This allows the student to get insight to their future profession, although most graduates agree to feeling a bit lost when it comes to actually getting to work. I think we’ve all had the feeling of that starting a new job is a bit of a gamble — will I thrive, or will I begin to resent getting up in the morning? I believe closer university-to-sector cooperation could help erase that feeling, as well as assuring educational relevancy. Forming a strategic relationship would also open a window to companies’ culture, and ideally attract talent that would flourish in that specific work environment.

I do not consider this a fantasy, and I do not wish it to be disregarded as such. We have come too far in technological development to not use the tools in our reach. Communal digital platforms can very well be a solution to lack of communication, designed to satisfaction of both parties.

Last but not least, I’d like to end this post with a cliché:

If there’s a will, there’s a way.


Sweden Statistics (SCB): Acquiring jobs after graduation (2017) https://www.scb.se/contentassets/99b33222db7b45c8befa1b83e7653d51/uf0512_2017a01_br_a40br1708.pdf

Svenskt Näringsliv — the organization that represents the Swedish private sector: https://www.svensktnaringsliv.se/migration_catalog/Rapporter_och_opinionsmaterial/Rapporter/foretagen-o-digitaliseringenpdf_648145.html/BINARY/F%C3%B6retagen%20o%20digitaliseringen.pdf

Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2016/12/21/sweden-heads-the-best-countries-for-business-for-2017/#d1817707ecdb

The Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sweden-s-technology-powerhouse-shows-brexit-britain-a-positive-way-to-fix-its-ailing-economy-a8118641.html

Mid Sweden University https://medarbetarportalen.miun.se/gemensamt/Kommunikationsfragor/kommunikationsplattform/malgrupper/naringsliv-och-offentlig-sektor/



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