Facing a colossal digital skills gap, Swedish business leaders sound the alarm

Kenneth Fredriksen, Director of Nordics and Balticum at Huawei, on the digital skills gap. Photo: Shutterstock/Tommy Fondelius.

Sweden is facing a massive digital skills gap in the next couple of years. Experts say 70,000 more people are needed in the tech sector in Sweden by 2024, and they warn that the deficit is threatening Swedish innovation and growth.

Tech Sverige says an already strong digitalization trend accelerated further because of the pandemic. It’s a Swedish industry and employer organisation for the tech sector, representing about 1,350 member companies in the country.

The organization outlines the “grim truth is that tech sector companies are forced to turn down business and contracts because they lack a sufficient number of employees with the right competence.” They say even more with digital skills are needed in society as a whole.

Huawei Sweden is one of the companies tackling the issue. Nordics Director Kenneth Fredriksen says there needs to be a multi-faceted approach from the many sectors.

“I think this is a problem that has been developing over time, and obviously it’s because we have not really paid enough attention to several layers of the ecosystem,” Fredriksen said.

He says the government and educational sector have failed to keep up with the development of a digital society. He notes it’s hard to blame them too much because of the explosion of growth over the last several years.

“I think the solution is cooperation across the ecosystem”

Huawei is an active member of approximately 700 standards organizations, industry alliances open source communities and academic associations. The goal is to form a framework and mobilize efforts and resources in the same direction.

“The big difference between 5G technologies versus previous generations of what they sell, is that this is the first time we had one unified and universal technology,” Fredriksen said. He says the time to market shortened tremendously.

Fredriksen says those collaborations also allow society to expand the potential innovations taking place in the future. He believes that’s where the industry can make the biggest impact.

“We need to make sure that we have enough talent coming into the digital society, from the schools and universities,” Fredriksen said. “By sharing our capabilities and competencies from where we are today, and helping to define courses and educational directions based on the future needs.”

The Tech Sverige report says they recommend 10 important measures to reduce the 70,000 person digital skills gap. It includes truly opening up universities to people of working age, introducing tech checks for working people, attracting international talent and stopping talent deportation, and making it easier for companies to invest in their employees.

A big need for on-going digital skills education

Google Sweden Director Anna Wikland says society needs to address the issue on a large scale; with individual, business and levels.

“On an individual level, we need to understand that we need life-long learning,” Wikland said. “For businesses, it’s about programs that really encourage employees to really go after skills needed for the future.

She says society needs to have open, free courses in digital learning to take advantage of digitalization for the future.

“If you take SMB’s, after the pandemic 80 percent started to use more digital skills,” Wikland said. “The ones that do have higher sales, and employ more people. It’s really about ongoing learning that needs to happen because of rapid change and how fast technology is advancing.”

See Kenneth Fredriksen, Huawei and Google’s Anna Wikland in the panel “Digital Skills Shaping the Future of our Society” here:

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Grunden i vår journalistik är trovärdighet och opartiskhet. Techarenan är obereoende i förhållande till politiska, religiösa, ekonomiska, offentliga och privata särintressen.