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.