“Sweden is and will remain an industrial nation. We’re dependent on educating many talented engineers,” education minister Jan Björklund of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) told the TT news agency.
According to the forthcoming autumn budget proposal, the additional engineering spots will cost around 214 million kronor ($32 million) by 2018, by which time a total of 1,600 new places for civil engineering students will be created, the business daily Dagens Industri (DI) reported.
Björklund explained that the new engineering student spots are being created in response to increased interest in engineering among young people in the last two years following 20 years of decline.
“We want to respond to that interest so that those who have the capacity to complete the programmes are also admitted,” he told the TT news agency.
Critics often argue that such efforts come too late and when students have completed their degrees demand for their skills has since declined.
“It takes five years to educate an engineer and then they will work for 40 years, so it’s a very long-term investment. But I agree that such an effort should have been undertaken ten years ago, but then there was no interest among young people,” said Björklund.
According to most analysts, there is a balance between the supply and demand for civil engineers, but Björklund believes demand will increase.
“The average age of Sweden’s engineers is very high. When they retire, there is going to be a deficit if we don’t educate more,” he told TT.