Great demand for engineers

More students need to study in the areas of natural sciences and technology for Sweden to remain economically competitive in the future, according to a final report submitted to the Ministry of Education and Research by the Swedish Technology Delegation. “We must become much better in communicating how much fun it is to be an engineer”, says Leif Johansson, CEO of Volvo and Chairman of the Swedish Technology Delegation.

The Swedish Technology Delegation has been tasked by the Swedish Government with increasing the interest in mathematics, natural sciences, technology, and information and communication technology among children and young people. On Thursday, April 29, Chairman Leif Johansson submitted the Delegation’s final report to the Ministry of Education and Tobias Krantz, Minister for Higher Education and Research. 

“Unfortunately, our study indicates that Sweden is poorly equipped in terms of the skills that will ultimately be required in the areas of technology and natural sciences in the future. This applies especially to engineers, where we are going to see many retire within the nearest decade, but not enough students choosing that kind of education”, says Leif Johansson.

He states that this is a problem that Sweden shares with the rest of Europe.

“Therefore we can’t solve our problem by appealing to engineers from other European countries. Many Asian countries are investing in education in the areas of natural sciences and technology, and generally speaking we would like to be able to attract well-educated people from countries outside of Europe. Something that would require major changes in today’s rules and regulations”, says Leif Johansson.

Within Volvo, the problem can be handled over time by moving research and development outside of Europe. Something that would amount to major changes and which is not desirable, according to Leif Johansson.

“We, along with other European companies, must become better in communicating the fun in being en engineer, with all the profession’s possibilities to do something meaningful and inspiring in an international environment with nice colleagues”, he says.

The Swedish Technology Delegation proposes that Sweden invest in a national strategy that includes such objectives as having 10% of all upper secondary school students commence engineering courses at the tertiary education level, and achieving equality in the gender distribution of engineering courses, in the range of 40-60%.

The Delegation also proposes such measures as changing the teacher training program so that prospective teachers receive the requisite skills in mathematics, natural sciences, technology and information and communication technology, as well as reorganizing upper secondary school programs so as to enable more students to be qualified for higher education in these areas.

“Unless there is a major change of the educational system, with significantly more students in the areas of natural sciences and technology, Sweden wont’ be able to defend its competitiveness in the future. We want to be able to offer interesting jobs and a good labor market for young people”, says Leif Johansson.

Visit the Swedish Technology Delegation’s website to read more about the Delegation's pursuits.