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Ericsson frets over lack of foreign students
A file image of an engineering student in Sweden

Ericsson frets over lack of foreign students

Published: 22 Mar 2013 16:49 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Mar 2013 16:49 GMT+01:00

The shrinking number of foreign university students in Sweden has left tech companies like telecom giant Ericsson worried about a shortage of potential employees.

"We're dependent on these talents, just as many other companies are," Tomas Qvist, recruitment head at Ericsson, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

"We're seeing that the supply of people studying at technical universities is dropping, we can only look on with concern that we won't be able to find the right talent to further our engineering expertise."

Since 2011, the year fees were introduced at Swedish universities for students from outside of EU, foreign student enrollment has dropped 80 percent.

SEE ALSO: Click here for the latest listings for jobs in Sweden

Magnus Henrekson, the head of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (Institutet för näringslivsforskning), explained that Sweden's move to charge foreign students made sense, yet that foreign students had been a valuable addition to Sweden's work force in the past.

"It's a dilemma that we don't really know how to solve," he told SR.

He said that the old system had been beneficial for international companies such as Swedish telecom giant Ericsson.

"For a number of years now we've had students from India and Russia. They have been talented, truly driven, and have really wanted to stay here due to the better possibilities than if they returned home," he said.

Qvist at Ericsson, meanwhile, confessed that the company was open to the idea of providing scholarship funding for promising students from abroad.

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Your comments about this article

17:56 March 22, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
The solution is very simple, as was noted in the article: let Ericsson pay the student's tuition in exchange for the student working at Ericsson for, say, seven years after graduation. If the student leaves within the seven year period, the student repays Ericsson the school tuition plus interest.
18:22 March 22, 2013 by irridium
please correct me if I am wrong, but hasn't Ericsson been laying off hundreds left and right?
18:46 March 22, 2013 by EmployedProfessional
And Ericsson should stop the practice of playing with these young people's lives,threatening to mess with their work permits,sending them home to their impovished countries if they don't just shut-up and accept low pay and crappy treatment!

Yes,that's happening...
18:49 March 22, 2013 by Rishonim
Another solution can be that Ericsson try and change their hiring managers mentality to not be so quick to delete an incoming CV just because the applicant's name is Rajiv, Shankar, Imtiaz or Manoj. I know two of those guys with master degrees in Inter networking, VOIP from KTH and working at Mcdonald's.. There is no shortage of talent. in Sweden, is just that they are invisible in the eyes of (Karen and Henrik Swedensson) hiring managers for any swedish company.
18:51 March 22, 2013 by Urmulu

Your logic is not true! In the past, there were hundreds of students and the companies had the opportunity to look for and choose the best and most talented students. Most of the students were doing their final projects in industry for 6 months or more and companies like Ericsson could evaluate them.

Now, which students should be chosen for scholarship to begin with? How the companies can be sure that they are investing the money on right student? Even if they choose right one, the student won't be high motivated, since there is no competition and his/her job is guaranteed in a sense.
19:00 March 22, 2013 by aynrand_anthem

Debt bondage has been defined by the United Nations as a form of "modern day slavery" and is prohibited by international law. Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt_bondage


Layoff generally happens in some divisions because more people are there to do less work, that does not mean there are other divisions which are short on workforce. You cannot ask a person in HR department to do an engineering task.
19:26 March 22, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
It is not debt bondage if Ericsson invests in them this way. It is more like hiring them and putting them through a training program with a binding work contract. Debt bondage prohibited by international law is about human trafficking, abuse and slavery without payment or any sort of life-enhancing opportunities. It is usually inflicted upon illegal immigrants or those who are most vulnerable in society. It is not at all about Ericsson offering careers to university students studying at the master's level. Get real.
19:27 March 22, 2013 by EmployedProfessional
You cant ask most managers to do much of anything but take attendance and missjudge competance since they have no indepth knowlege of the real work anyway.

Often,lay-offs are Russian Roulette,you're out and quickly back in the back door when they realise that you were vital to a key project.
19:35 March 22, 2013 by Khazara
The fall of the west has already happened. No amount of understanding sin / cosine = tangent will stop the collapse. The western nations lack morals and westerner children. The decline is in full movement only the ignorant wish not to see it.
19:54 March 22, 2013 by johan rebel
Yeah, right! Ericsson frets and Henrekson doesn't know how to solve the dilemma.

Well, here's an idea: if you want qualified engineers, seek out suitable candidates and offer them bursaries.

Why should Swedish taxpayers have to educate a whole bunch of foreigners at their expense, just so that Ericsson can hire the cream of the crop?

The fact that enrollment has dropped 80% also speaks volumes. The vast majority were not coming to Sweden because of the high quality courses offered, but because they could study on somebody else's dime. Good riddance!
20:15 March 22, 2013 by EmployedProfessional
Khazara,you have a point.

The deeper truth is smart ,young engineers leave for London,Germany,France,middle east and the US( of course) as fast as they can.

The word is out,even nordic cream of the crop is worth more anywhere else.

They don't want to work for their"Families "anymore just because they are guaranteed a job here.
20:44 March 22, 2013 by intrepidfox
There are 400,000 unemployed in Sweden. Train them instead
20:56 March 22, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:16 March 22, 2013 by Akhtar Rasool
I am open to join and serve at Ericsson if they need a telecom engineer.
21:37 March 22, 2013 by HenryPollard
This is political BS.

Let's put the number of foreign students in context, Sweden is taking in multiple times more foreign students than Norway, Denmark and Finland.
21:38 March 22, 2013 by EmployedProfessional

this is only a meeting of the minds here.

not a word any of us say should ever deter you from going for your goals.

You've gotta be in the game to win.

Sign up and see what happenns dude!
00:16 March 23, 2013 by V Sid
Yes Sweden needs to attract Indian talent The sucess of the Silicon Valley is because of Intelligent Indian Engineers from IIT s, Microsoft Google Adobe and host of other Blue chip Tech companies employ brilliant IIT Tech guys from India

If Sweden could employ a couple of IITs then Sweden is bound to come out with exciting InnovationsThe IITs are the cream of Indian Tech talent ,Germany has grabbed afew Hi skilled Engineers from IIT .Hence to start with the Swedish companies should go Campus recruitment drive only to the IITs and the rest will fall in place

00:25 March 23, 2013 by aynrand_anthem

"It is not debt bondage if Ericsson invests in them this way. "

Of course it is. Thats how it all started. Pick ignorant people and offer money for their need, make them sign a binding contract and work for you.

It is more like hiring them and putting them through a training program with a binding work contract.

Do you call an agreement for 7 years a binding work contract? why did you limit your self with 7 years? You could have used 25 years in your suggestion? By putting 25 will it become slavery? may be you should start thinking about using the qualities in your user name

The best way for Ericsson is to open more branches abroad and recruit people there. That way they don't have to worry about the students in Swedish universities. With more contracts coming from developing nations, I can see this as one of the strategies they might be considering.

By the way, I don't live in a fantasy world.
03:32 March 23, 2013 by radions
A lot of european countries give foreign students time to look for job or settle down after completing studies i they wish...sweden has no idea about that what so ever...

still unemploeyd, while applying for jobs in sweden I myself experienced racial profiling ...and it happens in many companies....more emphasis is put on swedish language than on technical skills...and in my university even the career services for making CV and cover letter are not available in english ..

The way swedish universities are drying up from foreign students...swedish companies will soon dry up also, if necessary measures are not taken....
04:41 March 23, 2013 by icedearth
hmm i thought few weeks back they were cutting 1500 jobs?
06:38 March 23, 2013 by prince T
Ask migga, jostein, tg22, rebel, pollad. They know the reasons why we do not have foreign stident. These guys have no job but will not allwed qualified pple to take it up.
08:17 March 23, 2013 by Coolrunnings
The best and brightest never came to Sweden for studies, even when it was free. They opted for better markets such as the U.S. Most often these non-eu students who came were often from rural communities. Strange how swedish universities signed up with third rate colleges in the middle of nowhere instead of the top notch colleges. Oh well, at least Sweden did a good dead by giving these foreign college guys jobs as cleaners or working at mcdonalds instead of Kalle.
09:28 March 23, 2013 by Migga
@ prince T

Keep my name out of your mouth if you aren`t going to write anything decent except for lies. I can assure you I have a job.

I love these comments about how Sweden is dying, drying up or is falling behind. Sweden is one of the most innovative and leading economies in the world, it will continue to be that. The reason why countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China is becoming competative is because they drive wages and costs down. They have young students and workers doing the job for much less money or benefits. Something I suspect Ericsson is trying to do when asking for foreign students. But cutting costs won`t lead to innovation or creativity.
09:39 March 23, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason

Why don't you go and ask any unemployed yet highly trained professional whether or not they would refuse a seven-year contract to work for Ericsson because it equates to "debt bondage."

While you're at it, go ask all the unemployed graduates who are getting crushed under a mountain of student loan debt (even in Sweden, yes) whether they would have preferred that a big corporation like Ericsson pay for their education and guarantee them a job after university?

If corporations are willing to invest in young minds and develop them into the talent they need, then they should expect a return on that investment. I am pretty sure Ayn Rand would agree with me here. Offering technical training and a university degree along with long-term employment in today's economic climate is not a bad thing.

Of course, Ericsson should invest in and train Swedes before bringing in foreign students for future jobs in Sweden.
10:11 March 23, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:25 March 23, 2013 by Reason and Realism
If Swedish University tuition is now insanely unaffordable for foreign students, then Ericsson can simply recruit students from Universities elsewhere in Europe, in addition to considering the Swedes that are graduating from technical programs in Sweden.

As for students in Sweden, I have been shocked at how lazy some of them appear to be, taking the option to delay their midterm exams for months, having only 8 hours of lectures a week, etc.. Obviously there are also some very hard working and talented Swedish students, but if the education culture here is overly relaxed then you can understand why Ericsson would like the option to recruit foreign students also.

And for anyone here who is screeching 'Oppression!!! Slavery!!!', I can tell you that you have absolutely no understanding of what a 'win-win' situation is, and what high tech work is like. These are not berry pickers forced to live in a hole in the mud for several years, these are high tech workers. And the so called bondage period, if any is put in place, is pro rated, so that if someone leaves say halfway through the agreement, they only pay back half of the tuition that Ericsson had paid for them, not all of it.
10:43 March 23, 2013 by itsmekulvinder
The solution is that the foreign students who are graduating must be able to find a suitable environment to find jobs. The biggest problem that these students face is that they dont know Swedish language and in almost all of the job advertisement, either it is specifically asked for fluency in Swedish or when they call recruiters, they are told that Swedish is required.

So, at one hand, we want more foreign students to come here and study and then contribute here and at the other hand, they are actually not welcomed in the job market no matter how competitive they are. The criteria which filters about 99% foreign students is the knowledge of Swedish and not what they know actually.

I think it is very hard to learn a new language in a short time duration and get used to of it. Just compare it with US, it is much more easier for foreign students to study and work ans compared to in Sweden.
10:55 March 23, 2013 by Migga
@ Reason and Realism

"I have been shocked at how lazy some of them appear to be"

Why do you reinforce a myth or stereotype based on apperance? Why not try and understand insted? Is good studying about reading many books or having the most amount of leacture hours? Considering Swedens many world leading companies, leading position in innovation and one of the strongest economies their students most be studying right. Espescially considering it`s small population. Overly relaxed isn`t good but a relaxed, comfortable, innovative and creativ enviroment leads to success. An enviroments packed with pressure, stress, demands and expectations will only lead to breakdowns. The ones who are the "best" are those that find a golden middle way.
11:45 March 23, 2013 by Reason and Realism
@ Migga #28

Part of the problem is that the system for graduate work in Sweden encourages delays, because individual university research departments get money based on the number of students they have, so it is in the departments' interest to delay graduation rather than focus on results-oriented get-things-done attitude.

As for the volume of study work, a higher volume contributes to extra knowledge among the graduates of the program, and if there is a grading system rather than merely pass/fail mark for courses, it also clarifies which students are the brightest and most capable. Creativity can be judged in a series of extensive interviews, and creativity is very important, but a student capable of demonstrating hard work is also highly valuable.

@ itsmekulvinder #27

The language of high tech is English. Most textbooks, computer programs, equipment instruction manuals, and programming languages, are written in English. And all of the science fiction movies and TV shows that inspired many of the students to study science and technology are broadcast in English.

It is not accurate that a lack of fluency in Swedish filters out 99% of entry level engineering jobs from foreigners in Sweden. Management positions (not entry level) or supply chain/public relations/human resources (which are not really high tech, per se) require Swedish fluency, but approximately 70% of the entry level jobs could be open to non Swedish speakers, and these new employees could contribute very effectively technically while they start to learn Swedish. And this is simply because Swedes have a very good understanding of English, and most Swedes under 50 speak English very well.
12:25 March 23, 2013 by Migga
@ Reason and Realism

Still doesn`t justify reinforcing a myth. In 2011 swedish students published 18,645 academic pappers. That`s 2.05 per capita. That`s top three, just behind Switzerlands 2.72 and Denmarks 2.13. I`d say things get done.

Having extra knowledge doesn`t mean the student will be a creative and innovative high tech worker that will solve problems, do deep analysis or invent new solutions/services. I`d say they run a risk of not being able to think and act outside the box or their books. But I agree with you that work is important, as I said I think there is a golden middle way if one takes both sides into account. I think Sweden has found a good balance.
12:31 March 23, 2013 by Max Reaver
@prince T

LOL! that's your list of "posters of TheLocal who seem to dislike foreigners with a passion"?

@johan rebel

The tuition fee is too expensive for its quality, it's comparable to an Ivy League school in US. Swedish unis are good, but if you pay the same price, a Cornell degree is much better than KTH. It's better education there, and Ivy League degree is much more welcomed worldwide. The 80% drop indicates that the target group has changed to ppl who can afford but are def less competent than the 1st tier guys who got admitted to US. That's not good for Sweden at all.

@Reason & Realism

I agree. First of all the language in IT-sector is English. Among the foreign students I know, IT-guys have much better opportunity working in industry compared to e.g. biology.

In uni I could be "lazy" to skip lectures, but I only postponed my exams once due to conflicting schedule and I scored A on the re-take. My classmates however, they'd often skip exams for the most bagatelle reasons (lack of "confidence" is one). Many of them fail to graduate on time due to unfinished courses since 1st yr!
13:51 March 23, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:11 March 23, 2013 by Rogerenden
Basic problem: Lack of educated people.

Reason: supply of people studying at technical universities is dropping

Solution. Bring more foreigners in.

Well, a nother solution could be: Improve education in technical universities and (if required) improve working conditions at technical companies, so young people who already live in the country (maybe even Swedish people?!) start studying there.

@reason and realism:

"[...]but approximately 70% of the entry level jobs could be open to non Swedish speakers, and these new employees could contribute very effectively technically while they start to learn Swedish. "

Well, maybe I'm an insane person, but I did something crazy: I started to learn Swedish when I learned I got admitted. So after graduating I spoke Swedish quite well and everything went fine. I think is isn't something you can't ask from one of these foreign talents.
15:57 March 23, 2013 by Navras
Ericsson is dumb inefficient organization. There are 10000 of foreign students unemployed in Sweden. At-least 10% of them should be potential candidates.

Meanwhile Ericsson is laying off 3000; downsizing research divisions.

The news don't reflect the ground reality
16:43 March 23, 2013 by EmployedProfessional
correct Navaras.

Only lagam has kept all of this crap affloat but the headwinds of the world are changing all of this.

Will Sweden continue to drift further into the s..t storm while it continues doing things the way it always has or, start looking into the eyes of the rest of the world with a less nationalistic fear and becoming a part of it?

Stay tuned...
21:43 March 23, 2013 by muscle
based on the rules , the only reason ericsson would go hiring professionals from countries outside of sweden or eu, is because they are unable to find human resources for certain task. Simple as that. there is nothing about low wage employees or anything. All employees will be paid according to the laws.

Yes there are unemployed professionals in sweden, yet it is not necessary that they fulfill their requirements. If an unemployed professional has skills in civil engineering, there is no way ericsson would hire him for java development!

Also, the hiring managers are not stupid. Even if the unemployed professionals have expertise in software testing, ericsson would not hire him or her for software development.... BECAUSE there is a huge risk that the person will quit job afterwards and will go for something that suits him.

I do no understand why you guys have to make just every news item appear racist.
21:43 March 23, 2013 by Max Reaver

If they use fake credentials for student application, what makes you think they don't use the same fake degree for job application? If a foreigner comes to Sweden to study and eventually gets job, at least you know the degree from Sweden is legit. You just stated exactly why Ericsson should hire foreign students from within Sweden rather than from their home countries.


The students who publish should be PhD students (paid, active researchers) of which many (if not most) have foreign background. Conducting research in academy means long working days and less pay than in companies. For this reason, Swedes prefer other jobs and are clearly underrepresented among the PhD candidates. It's common knowledge in the academy. You just showed how Swedish universities has thrived on foreign talents. For the same reason, Ericsson needs these talents. The lazy asses Reason & Realism mentioned are bachelor and master students who rarely publish. Most of the guys in this group happen to be locals.

Since you brought up scientific publications, can you show us the references? There are many follow-up questions. For example, I'd like to know how many of these papers have students as 1st authors? How many are original research articles, and how many are reviews? How about the impact factors and citations so far? In science you need quality over quantity. A citation report can show that.
01:55 March 24, 2013 by Kronaboy
@irridium & icedearth

You miss the point, Ericson has been laying off under qualified under performing ethnic European swedes, who owe their position to nepotism and racism which is simply not economically viable in the current economic climate.


Brother Khazara, the problem is whatever the white racist pig suffers we suffer ten fold

@ prince T

I agree with Migga why are you wasting your time discoursing with a waste of space like him, the entirety of his argument regarding anyone who disagrees with his latent Nazi homosexuality is to accuse them of lying? Like my old gran pappy would say no point in arguing with a loon

@Reason and Realism

Agree with you 100%, standards across EU are appalling, when I started reading for my first degree total number in the year was approximately 50 students, by the time I finished the first year was 350, the case was even worse when I read for my second degree a few years later?
04:37 March 24, 2013 by Marc the Texan
The issue comes down to pay. Simple as that. Companies don't want to pay and foreign workers are cheap.The issue today is that even workers from third world countries no longer want to bust their humps for chump change. It's not just Sweden, it's everywhere. People won't commit to such demanding careers if the pay isn't there. The 90s are long gone. If pay were better, more Swedes would go for these jobs. There are plenty of tech workers over 40 who are essentially put out to pasture because employers would rather wring lots of hours out of young workers while paying much lower wages. There is no shortage of tech, IT, scientists, engineers, etc. If companies want good people, they are just going to have to pay. That's how this is supposed to work. No need for corporate welfare. It's not just Ericsson, it's all their competitors. Let the market work.
13:39 March 24, 2013 by liondens
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:12 March 24, 2013 by Migga
@Max Reaver

I can give you a link but the answers to you questions you have to find yourself;


Found the figures from 2012 aswell;

00:07 March 25, 2013 by Max Reaver

No problem, I only wanted to see your source. It's from Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The methodology is somewhat crude, as they generated their data using country as keywords when browsing through the publishing institutes. Nevertheless it's quite okay as an indicator for research capability. Although I gotta point out the publications counted have been contributed by everybody, which include all levels of senior scientists e.g. professors, and not only students.
14:16 March 25, 2013 by Freelife

You quite often use photos of Indians ( or people who like Indians ).

Please do not use photos of Indians. Some people cannot understand and may start hating anyone who looks Indian.

I am an 'Indian looking person' who is suffering because of the stereotypes about us here.
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