Swedish labour market 'tougher than ever'

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish labour market 'tougher than ever'
Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix/TT

The labour market in Sweden is under more pressure than in any other country included in a new global report. And the situation is deteriorating each year.


One of the key issues is a 'talent mismatch', meaning that while there are jobs available in Sweden and job-seekers, there is a shortage of people with the skills the labour market demands. Examples of the top skills needed in Sweden included accounting, payrolling, QA specialists, and business/financial controllers.

Sweden was scored at 7.0 out of ten in the Hays Global Skills Index, a ten-point scale where a score over five indicated that the labour market was under pressure. This was up from 6.8 last year's edition of the study, which is published by global recruitment agency Hays in collaboration with Oxford Economics.

Across the 33 countries included in the study, the average score fell from 5.4 last year to 5.3. Sweden was one of 12 countries where the figure rose year-on-year, together with neighbouring Denmark which saw the steepest rise over the same period.

READ MORE: Danish labour market under maximum pressure: report 

"Companies in the high-skilled industries are struggling to find the right talent and thus wages in these niche industries are peaking," Johan Alsen, Managing Director for Hays Sweden, explained in the report.

"At the same time the Swedish labour market is becoming more fragmented as unemployment remains at rather high levels while wages are decreasing as politicians aim to create more jobs for the less-skilled workforce."

Alsen said the upwards trend was expected to continue, at least in the short term, due to the lack of changes made to the Swedish education system which could tackle the skills shortage.

"Today's system isn't flexible enough to adapt to the current needs of the labour market and produce the specific highly-skilled professionals that are desperately needed by businesses," he said.

Vacancies rose by 29 percent in the past year, the third largest rise in the countries included in the study.

Sweden's extremely high score of 9.8 in the 'talent mismatch' category shows how hard it can be for employers to find the right people for the job. And it scored a 10.0 for 'wage pressure in high-skilled industries', meaning that in skilled sectors such as IT has led to a speedy rise in wages, in turn increasing the gap between wages in high-skilled and lower-skilled industries.

Overall wage pressure, however, was expected to be slightly lower this year than in the past, according to the report, which gave it a score of 7.8 in this category. And Sweden received low scores (4.0 and 4.8) for labour market participation and labour market flexibility.

The country has been widely criticized over the past year for strict regulations on work permits for employees outside the EU. Hundreds of non-EU workers with jobs in Sweden, many of them working in the tech sector, have been ordered to leave the country over minor admin slips in their paperwork.

READ MORE: In depth: Why is Sweden deporting its foreign professionals?

The Hays Global Skills Index assessed 33 countries on seven equally weighted indicators such as education flexibility, labour market flexibility and wage pressure. The index has been measured each year since 2012, and Sweden's score has increased each year.


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