Engineers from Sveriges ingenjorer, the Swedish Union of Engineers, recently pointed to large geographical differences in the salaries of their members, with those in the south being better paid than their colleagues in northern Sweden.
– What's happening in northern Sweden with companies that can accelerate the green transition is exciting and important. But all this work on climate transition risks being jeopardized if wages are not raised and recruitment is not successful, said Ulrika Lindstrand, the leader of Sveriges ingenjorer, before she continued:
– Relatively speaking, engineers in Stockholm county have the highest salaries among Sweden's 20 counties. According to this calculation, the salary situation for engineers in Stockholm is 19 percent higher than in Norrbotten and 18 percent higher than in Västerbotten.
We gave the employers a right of reply to the union's claims.
The responses come from Boliden's communications manager Klas Nilsson, SSAB's Malin Blank, of competence supply and HR development, and LKAB's Annika Nilsson, head of compensation and benefits.
How often is salary a decisive factor in recruiting?
LKAB: Salary is an important part of the package, but we generally do not lose interesting candidates due to an inability to offer a competitive salary.
Boliden: It's hard to say, but in our case it's unusual.
SSAB: Most of the time, salary isn't the deciding factor in our recruitment. Candidates are often attracted by a total package that includes our other offers such as reduced working hours, wellness programs, opportunities for development within the company and especially SSAB's journey towards a fossil-free future. The flexibility to work remotely or locally, job security, and stability are also attractive.
How often have you missed out on a recruitment because of salary level?
LKAB: See previous answer.
Boliden: It's also difficult to give an estimate. We see a lot of interest in the positions we offer, but there can be individual situations where a candidate chooses another employer for various reasons.
SSAB: It's not a significant problem, but it does happen from time to time. More often, candidates are attracted by SSAB's overall package, benefits and values, such as our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint. SSAB's focus on transitioning and minimizing our environmental impact has generated considerable interest and is seen as valuable and responsible.
Sveriges Ingenjörer is surprised that the salary gap between engineers in the north and south of Sweden seems to persist. How do you explain this?
LKAB: We don't share this view. Based on our comparisons with other process industries and the rest of the country, we maintain competitive salaries. Historically, there have always been differences between the big cities and the rest of the country.
Boliden: We implement individual salary-setting based on performance and job complexity. Starting salaries for new graduates show a clear difference in levels.
SSAB: We prefer not to comment on this.
What are your recruitment needs for engineers, and what is the recruitment pool like?
LKAB: Engineers are a crucial group for us, and we recruit many engineers in various categories.
Boliden: We certainly have a need for different types of engineers, such as those specializing in automation, robotics, and mining-related fields. However, we feel that we can recruit the skills we need. Still, we would like to see more individuals pursue these types of education paths in general.
SSAB: We have a constant need for engineering expertise, and this need will increase as SSAB moves towards a fossil-free future. There will be a relatively high demand for "technology engineers" in the coming years, given the new investments we have ahead of us in Luleå and other locations. New technologies and investments in transformation will require engineering skills.
Our employees typically stay with us for an average of 17 years, so we don't have a high turnover rate. As the labour market changes, we expect to see more mobility.
Is it common to look outside Sweden for new employees?
LKAB: No, but we've seen increased interest from international candidates, which may be related to our awareness campaign and increased interest in our strategy and transformation.
Boliden: Since our operations in Sweden are mainly in Norrland and Västerbotten, that's our starting point for recruitment. However, we promote internal mobility across borders and our trainee program attracts considerable international interest, so all aspects are present.
SSAB: For our current production operations, we recruit almost exclusively from Sweden. However, to find, for example, project managers for building new mini-mills/electro-steel mills, we have to cast a wide net across Europe, as some skills are not readily available in Sweden/Nordic countries, as we do not have mini-mills/electro-steel mills here. Nevertheless, we have found a mix of people, mainly from Sweden and Finland, with extensive international experience from working on large projects abroad, whom we have been able to recruit. As a result, the majority of new hires for the project are from the Nordic region, but with international experience.