“Chinese will become more important, from an economic perspective, than French or Spanish,” he said to newspaper Dagens Industri.
French, Spanish and German are today the languages commonly offered in all elementary and high school language classes.
Björklund wants Sweden to be the first European country to introduce Chinese language classes in all schools, in a bid to strengthen the country’s competitiveness.
“Not everyone in the business world speaks English. Highly qualified businesses are now leaving Europe and moving to China,” he points out to business newspaper Dagens Industri.
“If we look towards the next generation, it’s almost unavoidable to think anything else than that China will be a very important global actor,” said the minister in an interview with Sveriges Radio (SR).
He calculates that it will take between ten and fifteen years to recruit sufficient numbers of teachers able to teach the language.
“It all boils down to teacher training colleges and other institutions expanding their programmes, and if we decide to do this, it’s definitely possible,” said Björklund to SR.