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Swedish mechanics in short supply: industry

As the transport sector grows and vehicle design becomes more complex, Sweden faces a shortage of mechanics, an industry organization has warned.

Swedish mechanics in short supply: industry

“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.

“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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CAR

This is the Swedes’ favourite car model (hint: it’s not a Volvo)

Sales of new cars in Sweden rose 7.9 percent last year, according to fresh figures. And for the first time in more than five decades, the car topping the list of most-sold models is not a Volvo.

This is the Swedes' favourite car model (hint: it's not a Volvo)
A Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A total of 372,296 new cars were registered in 2016, said Swedish automakers' association Bil Sweden. Truck sales rose by a whopping 15.3 percent, with 58,174 new trucks sold last year.

Perhaps surprisingly, the most popular model was not the iconic Swedish car Volvo, but rather a German Volkswagen. Its Golf model was Sweden's most sold car, racking up 22,084 sales.

It is the first time in 54 years a brand other than Volvo tops the list in Volvo's birth country. In 1962 Volkswagen's famous 'Beetle' was the most sold car in Sweden.

The last of the Volvo V70, Sweden's best-selling car for two decades prior to last year, rolled off the conveyor belt earlier this year and it seems the newer V90 has not yet found its place in Swedish hearts.

READ ALSO: Volvo bids farewell to Sweden's favourite car

However, it was not far behind. Volvo sold 21,321 of its V70/XC70/S90/V90, which are counted as one model in Bil Sweden's statistics, in 2016, second behind Volkswagen Golf. The company, which is owned by Chinese Geely, also held on to the largest market share, with four of its models in the top-ten.

The sale of so called 'super green cars' – vehicles with less than 50g/km carbon dioxide emissions – rose by 51 percent last year compared to 2015.

“Our forecast is that around 18,000 new super green cars will be registered in 2017, which represents a share of five percent of the total market,” said Bil Sweden's CEO Bertil Moldén.

In France meanwhile, sales of new cars breached the symbolic two-million threshold for the first time since 2011, according to the French automakers' association CCFA.

The most popular car models in 2016 (Bil Sweden)

1. VW Golf
2. Volvo V70II, S/V90N
3. Volvo S/V60
4. Volvo XC60
5. VW Passat
6. Volvo V40N
7. Toyota Auris
8. VW Polo
9. Kia Cee'd
10. Skoda Octavia