VET 4.0 in Sweden
In February 2016 the Swedish government launched a strategy for new industrialisation – called Smart Industry. The ambition or vision is that Sweden will be the world leader in innovative and sustainable industrial production of goods and services. The strategy will help strengthen the competitiveness of the industry and making investments in Swedish industry more attractive. The strategy has identified four challenges facing the industry; digitalization, sustainability, excellence and innovation. Sweden must be at the forefront of both the digital conversion to take advantage of the opportunities that come with the fourth industrial revolution, and the global green transition. Expertise and innovation are crucial to success. The strategy is the basis for a united effort to promote industrial development.
Four challenges for Swedish Industry
Digitalization – Right now a rapid structural transformation is undergoing in which embedded and connected factories and products are revolutionizing the industry. But many Swedish industrial companies do not follow, and therefore risk being driven out unnecessarily.
Sustainability - Parts of the Swedish industry is not enough resource efficient. Sustainable production and sustainable products can be a Swedish strength in the future, but Swedish industry should move forward their positions.
Competence - Swedish industry have difficulties in recruiting the skills needed to compete in the world market. Every fifth recruitment fails completely. The quality and relevance of educations are often too low and the transition from old to new jobs needs to be facilitated.
Innovation Power - Swedish research and innovation environments facing tough competition. In contrast to most comparable competitors, corporate R& D investment as a share of GDP has fallen sharply in Sweden.
Work on the implementation of the strategy will take place within the four focus areas that the government has identified as critical to the industry's transition force
Four focus areas
Industry 4.0 – Companies in the Swedish industrial sector are to be leaders of the digital transformationand in exploiting the potential of digitalisation.
Sustainable production - Increased resource efficiency, environmental considerations and more sustainable production are to contribute to the industrial sector’s value creation, job creation and competitiveness throughout the entire country.
Raising competence industry - Competence providing system at local, regional and national level shall meet the industry's needs and promote long-term development.
Testbed Sweden - Sweden should be a leader in research areas that contribute to strengthening the industrial production in Sweden.
Of special interest for the Project VET 4.0 is the focus area Industrial Skills Boost . The implementation in Sweden will focus on the following:
- Increasing interest in science and engineering and increasing the attractiveness of industrially relevant study programmes.
- Improving the matching between the industrial sector’s labour requirements and the education system at all educational levels.
- Ensuring that the education system provides students with not only the right knowledge, but also with the right capabilities and skills required in the knowledge society and for the transition to a digitalised and circular economy.
- Improving the conditions for lifelong learning.
- Promoting career changes and mobility between the higher education sector and the business sector.
The challenge for the VET in Sweden is to match these areas.
In the knowledge society, skills are a decisive factor to companies’ competitiveness. Finding the right person, in the right place and at the right time is a major challenge and the competition for skills is global. At the same time, Sweden is coming up against ever greater challenges in terms of the supply of skills to the industrial sector and there are reasons to worry about the future.
- In Sweden, the proportion of the population who have recently gained a scientific or engineering degree is lower than the EU average.
- The OECD’s PISA survey shows a dramatic decline between 2000 and 2012 in Swedish school pupils’ knowledge of mathematics, reading comprehension and science.
- Young people’s interest in mathematics and technology is lower than it is in social issues and the teaching is rarely set up in a way that allows the perspectives to meet.
- There is an even less interest in training as a teacher in these subjects.
- In the long term, there is a risk of shortages, particularly of those with industrial education at upper-secondary school level, as well as of civil engineers with certain specializations, especially in the field of data, electronics, computer technology and automation. The industrial sector is already noticing a shortage of people with professional experience in these fields.
- The high rate of change in society is putting pressure on the overall system for supplying skills, which must meet the emerging knowledge and skills requirements.
- On top of this, the increasing specialization means a growing problem in terms of labour market matching efficiency. In a fast-moving society, knowledge and skills quickly become obsolete, which brings the importance of lifelong learning to the fore.
Given the prevailing situation and the large number of people that are currently seeking refuge in Sweden, it is also vital that these people’s knowledge and skills be made use of, with validation of skills being one tool. An increased pressure for societal and industrial transformation, combined with a somewhat worsened outlook for Sweden’s knowledge base, makes the supply of skills a vital issue for a strategy for new industrialization. The system for supplying skills must function and major responsibility here is in the hands of the public sector, but the industrial sector and the industrial services sector also have opportunities to influence the attractiveness of the industrial sector and the conditions for lifelong learning.