Almega's chief economist, Patrick Joyce, authored the report, which concludes that ongoing industrial investment in Västerbotten and Norrbotten could result in 50,000 new jobs.
For every new industrial job created in northern Norrland, 1.5 service jobs will be created. The LTU (Luleå Technical University) forecast of 20,000 new industrial jobs in the next 20 years means 20,000 jobs in the service sector and an additional 10,000 jobs. That's in the next 20 years or even sooner. These are the figures presented by Joyce.
– The purpose is to highlight that service companies are an important part of making this work to solve the skills supply. We wanted to draw the attention of the municipalities concerned to think about what they can do to secure these jobs in the first place.
The report was presented in Luleå and was attended by representatives from service companies such as Afry, Norconsult, and Randstad, as well as local politicians. Without cooperation between business and politics, it will not be possible to create 50,000 new jobs in the two northernmost counties with a population of just 525,000.
– Companies have said that they have difficulty finding people locally and that they sometimes try to recruit from each other. It's a short-term solution that's not good for the industry or for either county, says Joyce.
There are various surveys that show a degree of willingness from southern Swedes to move from the south to the north, but willingness is not the same as actual relocation.
– As much as we hope that people will move from Skåne to Norrbotten, and many say they will consider it, that type of migration can only be part of the solution, says Joyce.
It is clear to Joyce that the jobs cannot be filled locally, even if it is important that more people want to stay in the county. There will need to be extensive labor immigration, and there are concerns about that.
– You need specialists who are currently in other countries where wages are lower and who have an incentive to move to good jobs in Norrbotten. Politicians have to also help, says Joyce.
– But at the moment we have a government that wants to make it more difficult for workers to immigrate. The first step, from November 1, when the work permit wage floor is raised to 27,400 kronor, may only affect certain service industries.
The biggest blow is expected to come next year, when a government-commissioned study is expected to propose raising the wage floor for work permits in Sweden to 34,100 kronor - the median wage.
– Almega is currently working to convince them not to make the proposal in the first place, but if they do, to have good exemptions.
The government could exempt jobs that are nationally scarce from the wage requirement. But that's not enough, says Joyce.
– There may not be a severe shortage of certain care and social services in the country as a whole, but there may be in Norr- and Västerbotten. Then you need to be able to bring in foreign workers.
This does not require any legal changes, but is possible within the current system.
In addition to the political obstacles to attracting foreign workers, the issue of housing is a recurring one. Joyce believes that we will simply have to accept fly-in, fly-out as an interim solution.
– In the first phase, you have to be prepared to find the workers you need in any way you can. Is it fly-in, fly-out, temporary contracts, or those who stay permanently? You have to try all solutions. I still think we will achieve a more stable increase in permanent population in the long run, but we need a variety of solutions to kick-start the process, says Joyce.
Patrick Joyce's numbers are based on a model that Teknikföretagen uses where the data comes from Statistics Sweden. There, each industrial job is calculated to create 1.1 jobs in other industries.
But the conditions in the north with the mining and steel industry mean that 1.5 new jobs are created per industrial job. In total, Almega expects 60,000 new jobs to arise as a result of the investments in Norrbotten and Västerbotten; of these 50,000 will be in the northern counties.