Swedish labour shortage

24 April 2008

A Shortage of Construction workers is the biggest obstacle to growth for 70% of Swedish construction companies, according to a report by Konjunkturinstitutet the country's National Institute of Economic Research.

Recent Problem

According to the Konjunkturinstitutet the difficulty in finding skilled labour has become much more serious since the start of the year.

Spokesman Roger Knudsen told CE, “It's been a quite rapid change during the last few months. Four or five months ago it was only about a third of companies that had difficulties in recruiting. Now it's a bit more than 70%. It's a dominant problem for construction firms.”

According to Mr Knudsen, the difficulties have been due to a sharp increase in construction activity. “We have seen very good growth in construction for a long period. It has reached a point where it has hit a wall, and it is becoming difficult to take new orders because companies can't recruit new people.”

“Companies are still optimistic about growth, and I think they will manage for the next few months. But the order inflow is still increasing, so by early 2007 it could be a more serious problem if they don't find a solution,” he said.

The Institute's latest confidence survey shows the industry at its most optimistic since late 2000. Expectations hit a low in mid-2003, but confidence has improved since, hitting new highs in the first part of this year.

Mr Knudsen said that the Norwegian construction industry tackled labour shortages several years ago by importing immigrant workers from eastern Europe. However, he said this has not happened to any great extent yet in Sweden.


Immigrant labour could be one solution for contractors, but Mr Knudsen said there was still potential capacity in Sweden “There is a paradox in the construction labour force in that there are still people in the sector who are unemployed, who don't have the right level of skills and education. Training them could be a solution,” he said.

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