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Sweden has worst skills gap in global survey

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Sweden has worst skills gap in global survey
Workers at Spotify's head office in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
11:48 CEST+02:00
Sweden has overtaken the United States as the country most in need of skilled workers, a recent global survey shows.

The 2016 Hays Global Skills Index shows Sweden struggling to keep up with labour market demand, with more and more employers crying out for highly skilled workers. 

A total score of 6.8 puts Sweden at the top of the pile as the country with the highest labour market stress levels in a comparison of 33 skills-based economies. 

“It’s a complex index but we can see that Sweden is one of the toughest places for a company to develop and grow even though the economy as a whole is currently doing quite well," Johan Alsén, managing director of Hays Sweden, told The Local. 

Sweden’s high score of 7.9 in the ‘talent mismatch’ category shows how hard it can be for employers to find the right people for the job. 

This mirrors a score of 8.4 for ‘education flexibility’, with a high score indicative of an inflexible education system failing to adapt to labour market needs. 

Sweden also scores 9.7 on ‘wage pressure in high-skilled industries’, a parameter seen as “indicative of the emergence of sector‑specific skills shortages (such as in engineering or technology).” 

Employers in sectors with high-skilled workers should do everything they can to hold on to current staff if they don’t want to risk difficult recruitment processes and soaring wage bills, Johan Alsén said. 

Construction engineers, for example, can often command huge pay rises when switching jobs in Sweden, he said. 

The Swedish head of the recruitment firm, which carried out the study with Oxford Economics, also echoed the concerns of tech startups about the housing shortage and restrictions on issuing stock options.

With few solutions in sight, he worried that these bottlenecks could blunt Sweden’s competitive edge.

“In the end if you can find a country with the same or lower salary rates and better housing, then why fight to stay in Sweden?”

Employers in Sweden have scarcely masked their anger with regulators this year, with high-profile tech figures like Spotify founder Daniel Ek supporting foreign workers caught up in bureaucratic nets. 

In one case, a “world class” Pakistani developer was told to leave the country because a previous employer had made an error when filling out some paperwork. 

Earlier, a worker from Bangladesh was deported because he found his job through LinkedIn.

READ ALSO: 'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape'

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