What does Sweden’s re-opening mean for jobs and the economy?

What does Sweden's re-opening mean for jobs and the economy?
When restaurants and events have their remaining restrictions removed, it should be an employee's market as companies race to hire staff to meet demand. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
As Sweden prepares for the hospitality and events industries to open up at the end of the month, some employers are struggling to hire the staff to ensure they can meet demand.

Taxi driving is one of the affected industries, after demand dropped sharply during the pandemic.

“We would need about a hundred drivers fairly quickly,” Satish Sen, acting CEO of Taxi Stockholm, told TT.

In Stockholm, some drivers were hired to deliver Covid-19 testing kits to individuals, while others have left the industry and found other jobs, but Sen says many remain unemployed and that his company is trying to recruit them as demand increases.

“We have had a steady development throughout the year, even if it has been from low numbers. After authorities started relaxing the restrictions, there has been a bit of a ketchup effect,” he said, using a Swedish idiom for a sudden increase.

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Peter Thomelius, head of competence supply at Sweden’s trade body for hotels and restaurants, Visita, said that the shortage of staff was already being felt by employers during the summer.

“Now we see that the restrictions are easing and people are returning to their [office] jobs, which means that other industries are also getting started, such as lunch restaurants and conference facilities. As this happens, it will become even more difficult to find staff as about 50,000 disappeared from their jobs for various reasons during the pandemic,” he noted.

Thomelius believes that it will take a while for the hospitality industry to recover, noting: “Some professions are also important for creating other jobs, without a chef there will be no serving staff or dishwashers for example.”

Organisations that rely on staff could struggle if recruitment is slow when the remaining restrictions on events and restaurants are lifted at the end of September, and this is likely to primarily affect roles where specific skills or qualifications are required. This means it is an employee’s market for people with sought-after skills.

“We hear that there are very many applicants for the jobs as store salesmen. There are no major problems with shortages there. However, it is difficult with other areas which require staff with IT or technology skills,” said Johan Davidsson, chief economist at the Swedish Trade Federation.

But Susanne Spector, chief analyst at Nordea, does not believe that the re-opening will cause any long-term problems with a shortage of labour in the worst affected industries.

“In the short term, it may be difficult to find many new people at the same time. But I have a hard time imagining that there will be a shortage in the long run. There is hope,” said Spector.

The industries worst affected by the pandemic such as hotels and restaurants, culture, sports and passenger transport account for only 3.5 percent of the Swedish economy and 5 percent of employment, according to Spector, while the rest of the economy weathered the crisis quite well. 


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