Sweden EU’s second best country for attracting talent: report

Sweden has been ranked the second best country in the European Union at growing, attracting and retaining talent by a new international study, trailing only the United Kingdom among the EU nations.

Sweden EU's second best country for attracting talent: report
Gothenburg is also praised in the city talent competitiveness ranking. Photo: Krister Engström/Göteborg & Co

Sweden placed fifth overall in international university Instead’s 2017 Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI), the highest ranking of the Nordic nations. Switzerland placed first, followed by Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA.

And the Swedes performed well across the board, registering good scores in the GTCI’s six categories of enabling talent, attracting talent, growing talent, retaining talent, providing vocational skills and providing knowledge skills.

“Sweden performs particularly well across all six pillars, belonging in the top 15 in each of them,” the report notes.

“In particular it excels at retaining talent, ranking 4th. With strong formal education and excellent access to lifelong learning, the country can count on a well balanced pool of both vocational skills (10th) and global knowledge skills (11th),” it adds.

The report did also point out however that Sweden has room for improvement when it comes to its labour market flexibility, which is the GTCI’s indicator measuring the ease for organizations to hire and offer redundancy.

Debate over the difficulties involved in hiring international talent in Sweden has been a hot topic in the country recently, leading to the government announcing that it will review its rules for foreign workers.

There was more good news for Sweden in the study’s accompanying Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI), where second city Gothenburg stepped out of Stockholm’s shadow and placed fifth, beating major cities like Madrid, Paris and Los Angeles in the process.

The GCTCI ranked 46 cities based on their reputation or growing footprint in attracting, growing and retaining global talent, and there was praise for the western Swedish hub.

“The high cost of living in Copenhagen, Helsinki and Gothenburg has been more than offset by these cities’ physical and information infrastructure and connectivity, strong international links and consistently high performance in quality-of -life indicators,” the study explains.

When broken down into categories, Gothenburg was ranked as a top-ten city for enabling talent, growing talent and building global knowledge.

The higher quality of life in Gothenburg and other high-performing smaller cities compared to larger metropolises was praised, as was the advantage of the strong ability in English as a second language in the Nordic hub.

“Smaller cities such as Copenhagen, Zurich, Gothenburg or Dublin are competitors to be reckoned with. They are cities where talents can find excellent career opportunities, good connectivity (broadband and transport) and a high quality of life for themselves and their families,” report author Bruno Lanvin said in a press release.

The full GTCI and GCTCI reports can be found here.

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”