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Swedish mechanics in short supply: industry

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13:20 CET+01:00
As the transport sector grows and vehicle design becomes more complex, Sweden faces a shortage of mechanics, an industry organization has warned.

"If every Swedish technical high school graduate went into the motor industry, we'd almost cover our recruitment needs," Caj Luoma, chair of the Vocational Council of the Motor Trade Industry (Motorbranschens yrkesnämnder, MYN), told The Local.

"But so many other industries want young guys and girls with technical skills, including manufacturing."

A review of employers associated with MYN showed that many of them find it hard to recruit enough staff.

The review concluded that nationwide the companies need around 4,800 new employees in the next three years. Employers are looking for mechanics and technicians, but also panel beaters and lacquerers.

Luoma said the increasingly complex design of trucks and cars places high demands on mechanics.

"I usually ask people how many computers they think a new Volvo truck has. It's about 30 to 35 in all," he said.

"So imagine all the technical snags you have in an office of ten people using ten computers connected to one central server, then multiply it."

The most sought after group is mechanics to work with heavy-goods vehicles.

"We've seen it in the official statistics for years," Luoma said. "Although in our conversations with employers we perceive a need for car mechanics too."

More than 80 percent of Swedish car workshops told MYN they would be hiring new personnel in the next three years.

"Compared to other industries, the auto industry has a culture of investing heavily in staff development. If you finish a technical programme in high school and go straight into employment, you can count on being offered a lot of competence development in the ensuing two to three years," Luoma said.

He said a waning interest in technical programmes at high school level was part of the problem, coupled with a growing transport sector that has already gone up by 50 percent when comparing statistics from 1998 and 2010.

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"If you look at the number of high school courses available across the country, they don't meet demand," Luoma told The Local.

"We want to increase those volumes."

Ann Törnkvist

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