Competence in Scandinavia

Before I went to Scandinavia, the word “competence,” meant to me: the ability to do something well. This term has never been attributed to any political issues in America, which was why I was intrigued when I learned of its’ significance in Sweden. When our class went to the InnovationLoop workshop in Lycksele, I learned that the word competence has much more of a meaning and is a political hot topic in Sweden and Scandinavia as a whole.

As a part of the group specifically tasked with the “competence provision,” I was very confused as to what that term meant. My native peers took the time to educate me on the term and its relevancy in Sweden today. They informed me that in current Swedish landscapeA, desired jobs such as nurses and mechanics are not being filled, especially in the Vasterbautten region (Northern Sweden). Many people are desiring the city life and are moving to Stockholm, vacating the northern region. Additionally, the workforce will need to replace up to 40,000 people in the workforce as there in an increase of flow in retirement. Competence, is referring in this case to the ability to utilize resources in the workforce and acquire the right skillsets. Additionally, immigration comes to play in this issue. Immigrant’s skills are not being utilized due to difficult requirements such as learning Swedish, racial bias, and not having an efficient integration system.

When we visited the Finnish Embassy, Lars Hagebris, the senior advisor, spoke about competence in Finland. Lars defined competence as getting the right skill sets for jobs, which is very important in Finland. It is clear that this topic is very relevant in Scandinavian countries, which makes me reflect on what we have in America.

Reflecting on life in America, I could not relate to this issue. In America, there is a high unemployment rate, however, jobs are being filled appropriately. Americans are becoming more educated and more often take internships to learn specific skill sets. Due to competition, youths at earlier ages are preparing the best way possible to fill the jobs that they desire. Another aspect is that vocations like nurses are well respected. The more work that goes into a degree, the more respect and income that is earned, influencing Americans to aim for these jobs. Another reason for this may be the glorification of nurses and other vocations on television shows such as Greys Anatomy. As for immigration, there are many social programs in place that work to help immigrants. America is known as being a country founded on immigrants, attempting to achieve the “American Dream,” so many people respect the efforts and contributions that immigrants make.  Overall, America is efficiently using resources, and Scandinavia must focus on improving the optimization of their human resources.

As a group, we brainstormed on creating ideas to solve this issue. Utilizing my experience in America, I recommended involving corporations to solve these issues such as implementing CSR, creating campuses in northern cities, and educating immigrants further with programs. By implementing CSR, companies would actively care about the communities they are a part of and ensure that they are providing individuals with equal opportunities, including immigrants. By bringing in a company to the north, such as NorthVault, job opportunities will begin to flood into the Vasterbautten region. This process will be difficult for Sweden to overcome, but it is possible with the right resources and time.