For three days, a delegation within the Switch to Sweden program made a study trip to Estonia and Finland. Tallinn, Helsinki and Turku welcomed us and presented their work in attracting, welcoming and integrating international talent to their countries and regions. Now the delegates hope to turn new acquired knowledge and insights to mobilize Sweden to advance its position as an attractive country for international talent.
The Switch to Sweden program aims to increase the qualified matches between international talent and Swedish employers. Linköping Science Park have received funding by Vinnova to pilot new ideas and methods over a three-year period. The goal is to get more international talents to stay and work in Sweden after finishing their masters and post docs here. During the first year, a number of matchmaking events have been carried out as well as a couple of surveys providing us with perspectives from both the employers and the talents.
– The reports show that 75% of all international students and researchers staying in Sweden want to stay after completing their studies, but that only 20% do so. There is thus great potential to get more people to stay and work further in Sweden with the right efforts, says Anna Broeders, program manager for Switch to Sweden at Linköping Science Park.
– Through the reports, we have realized that we need to support the talents to connect to the labor market in Sweden, identify interesting jobs for them and participate in the networking that is the basis for many recruitments in Sweden. We also need to support employers in overcoming certain barriers for recruiting international talent such as language, culture and restrictive regulations for visa permits and more.
At the beginning of 2023, the program management carried out a study trip to Estonia and Finland. The project’s Advisory Board was invited to come along, and the interest was so great that a total of 15 people from nine organizations chose to come along. The representation covered delegates from Luleå in the north to Malmö in the south.
Both Finland and Estonia have become known for having good processes and activities to attract, welcome and integrate talent. During the trip, the delegation got to see how Estonia and Finland work to achieve smooth processes of granting residence permits. Among other things, fast tracks are being developed for entrepreneurs, managers and experts as well as digital visa processes to make things easier. AI is key to succeed. The program also included visits to international houses in Tallinn, Helsinki and Turku, where we got to learn more and mover services such as relocation guides, spouse programs, buddy programs and various forms of networking.
– It is impressive to see how our neighboring countries translate their high ambitions into concrete activities, says Anna Broeders. I carry with me the feeling of how cooperation between different parts of the country is carried out, and how effectively the national and regional perspectives and networks are linked together. I hope we can take some of the ideas and test them within our program in the coming years – and I hope the national ecosystem for talent attraction is strengthened, so that we work more together and build on each other’s efforts. Among other things, we got good ideas about immigration services, i.e. how we help those who want to start their career here – but also how we support companies to create better preparedness to receive international employees.
Stina Almkvist from Region Norrbotten participated in the field trip to gather inspiration in order to mobilize national collaboration further.
– I have been inspired by Helsinki Partners’ campaigns like 90-day Finn as well as Business Finland’s Talent Boost Program. Finland works strategically and collectively around place branding and talent attraction with a connected eco-system on a both regional and national level. Estonia is also impressing as a high digital developed country and work really smart together with entrepreneurs and government to speed up the integration. I hope that we in Sweden can gather strength and build a “one stop shop” for talents and that we see the enormous potential that international talents can bring to Sweden.
Ann-Louise Larsson from Dalarna Science Park also participated in the trip. On a daily basis, she works as an innovation leader and is, among other things, responsible for the initiative Attractive Industrial Region in Dalarna, with the aim of marketing Dalarna to attract talent.
– I have been inspired by Helsinki Partners’ campaigns like 90-day Finn as well as Business Finland’s Talent Boost Program. Finland works strategically and collectively around place branding and talent attraction with a connected eco-system on a both regional and national level. I hope that we in Sweden can gather strength and build a “one stop shop” for talents and that we see the enormous potential that international talents can bring to Sweden.
Douglas Washburn, works at the Unit for Talent Attraction and Export Promotion, at the Swedish Institute.
– I participated in the trip to get inspired, to benchmark and exchange ideas and experiences with others working in the industry and to get a better understand how we need to position Sweden with our competitors as well as to make contacts within the industry in Sweden, says Douglas.
– It has been incredibly valuable to see what can be achieved when you pool your resources and work together towards a shared vision. Sweden is in a position where we have fulfilled many of the requirements to become one of the most attractive countries in the world for international talent, but we still have room for improvement. We have many exciting fast-growing companies, high-quality education programs and an attractive and appealing lifestyle . Sweden’s challenge is to find ways for our stakeholders to better cooperate as well as to adapt our labor immigration regulations so that we can attract talent when we are competing internationally.
The next step in Switch to Sweden will be matchmaking activities during spring and working and continue working with companies to improve their reediness as well as talents to get ready for the Swedish lab our market. Stay tuned at Switch to Sweden.