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The Association of Swedish Engineering Industries (‘Teknikföretagen’) is the employers’ organization for engineering companies in Sweden. Our 3,700 member companies employ more than 300,000 people in Sweden alone and many more abroad. Volvo, Atlas Copco, Tetra Pak, Ericsson and Scania are some of our largest members.
The companies strive for continual growth and success in the global market place. Subsequently, a key factor for them to succeed is a strong supply of qualified personnel. As such, it is of utmost importance that more young people choose a career in STEM. Teknikföretagen’s most important mission as an employers’ organization is to pursue matters regarding education and competence supply for industry.
STEM education in Sweden
Sweden’s engineering sector accounts for more than 50 percent of total exports and is thus a foundation of Swedish welfare. Continued success and competitiveness in the global marketplace for these companies depend on the available supply of and access to engineers and skilled workers.
The number of people applying for tertiary STEM courses in Sweden has increased over the past few years . Still, the supply of qualified people in the STEM field does not meet the demand from industry.
Engineering companies in Sweden are in need of both engineers and skilled workers. The engineering industry is becoming increasingly modern, digitized and highly skilled, which results in the significance of personnel with a higher level of education and competence than before.
However, while the need for STEM educated people are increasing in Sweden, interest for the STEM subjects are low amongst children in compulsory school. The STEM subjects have also become less popular among trainee teachers, which results in pronounced challenges. Today, only 7 percent of technology teachers in upper secondary schools are properly qualified. The equivalent proportion amongst math teachers is 49 percent and 46 percent for science. Unqualified teachers educating in the STEM field often feel insecure about their teaching ability. Meanwhile, school resources for competence development, educational materials and teaching aids are very limited.
Technology has been mandatory in compulsory school since 1994, but it is still viewed as a rather new subject. 60 percent of schools in Sweden lack a general syllabus for the subject. Every sixth student in compulsory school risks graduating with no technology education whatsoever. It is therefore not surprising that young people’s interest and curiosity in the technology subjects in school is decreasing.
To increase the interest in STEM subjects in general, amongst the country’s youth, we consider inspiring role models and lessons mirroring engineering companies’ everyday work to be key factors. Through Teknikföretagen’s several school projects (e.g. Tech Scouts, The Problem Solvers and Go Engineering) and the collaboration with Scientix, we aim to develop young people’s interest in and knowledge of the STEM subjects as well as guide them in the right direction when considering higher education alternatives.