The engineering students in Sweden are fleeing the large companies read the headline in on web version of SvD. Who is surprised? I’m not. Swedish conglomerates need to work on their employer branding.
There are, apparently, more civil engineering students than never but they do not want to work for the large engineering organizations in Sweden. One in three students want to be entrepreneurs or work in nontraditional engineering organizations according to employer branding company Universum. One in ten wants to be entrepreneurs. This leads to a shortage for the companies and government organizations that rely on engineers.
Why is this? Well in part it is due to the fact that today’s engineers are a bit picky and want do to things they perceive as fun or more rewarding, and who blames them?
But a large part of problem is due to the laziness of government organizations and the large Swedish conglomerates. They have not been taking care of their image with the students, nor do they properly market their organizations to get students interested in working there. There are many government organizations that rely on engineers that have amazing and interesting tasks but if they don’t tell the students about the interesting work they have to offer, then they are not going to be able to get any of the students, but rather see them lost to McKinsey, Skype and Spotify. The management consultants have done very well in their own marketing, the perception is that you get very interesting and varied tasks throughout the world. Whether or not this is the truth is irrelevant, today’s prospective employees think that it is and do not work for the old and dusty companies and government organizations.
Another aspect is the fact that these organizations are lagging behind in wages. Many of these companies pay way to low wages for the work that the engineers do. Government organizations are as always guilty of this but even big companies like Ericsson have been underpaying it’s workers as well as not providing a lot of job security. Low job security may be okay if you earn a lot of money but if you make peanuts compared to a McKinsey consultant, then you might reconsider how attractive employment these old giants are.
For example, a friend is working at an industry leader within its manufacturing field, and he has worked there for the past three summers. He makes something like 108 SEK ($16.3) before taxes. Now you may say “But Patrik, that is excellent pay in my country!” Sure but this is Sweden, my girlfriend makes 129 SEK ($19.3) per hour working retail, with an 100% increase on weekends. The classic Swedish manufacturing giants have become complacent in their attitude towards prospective employees.
The classic employers need to increase their visibility, Sweden has changed and employees are more critical than ever, they shop around and aren’t afraid to move out of the country to get jobs they want. Just look at how many move to Norway and earn an absolute fortune in comparison to Sweden, not to mention that it is easier to get a job in Norway than Sweden.
If companies aren’t clear about the benefits of working at their company they cannot compete for the ‘best’ graduates. The highly educated graduates with attractive degrees, especially IT engineers, have a buyers market, they are able to pick and choose between many employers. Just being a large, stable company isn’t enough anymore. Today’s graduates wants interesting and challenging jobs.
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