Sweden risks a shortage of 50,000 engineers by 2030. To tackle this, an internship programme, Tekniksprånget, aims to encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering.
Vattenfall is one of more than 120 employers taking part in the programme, which accepts interns who have left secondary school with the necessary qualifications to continue onto engineering studies at university.
“This is part of our long-term work to position Vattenfall as an attractive employer and secure skill levels long-term. It is already hard to recruit electrical and nuclear engineers today,” Tina Almqvist, responsible for Employer Branding in Nordic, says.
“Tekniksprånget is also a way for us to address various target groups: we want to encourage women and young people with a non-Swedish background to study engineering, too, for instance.”
The success of this initiative is undeniable: 82 per cent of the participants to compl+ete the programme in 2012 went on to study engineering or another technological discipline. The project is run by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at the instigation of the Swedish National Agency for Education. Vattenfall currently takes 13 interns.
It started with a brochure in her mailbox. Now 19-year-old Nadja Fadhel works at Vattenfall Heat in Uppsala. And she has a packed schedule throughout the four-month internship.
When News from Vattenafall interviewed Fadhel, she had just returned home after a course on environmental law.
"It was really interesting! And now I must prepare myself for tomorrow. I’ll be going to a meeting with the municipality about the Uppsala Climate Protocol.”
During her internship, Fadhel is rotating between administrative and practical services. And she really loves being able to try completely new things.
“I started with invoice processing and then went out to take part in the plant operations. I helped to lubricate various machines with grease: everything from small pumps to huge fans in several incineration plants,” she says. “It’s great to see how things work in reality, for example in waste incineration. And to see how important this work is for our society.”
When Fadhel finished secondary school, she was unsure about what she wanted to do in the future. After reading the brochure about Tekniksprånget that turned up in her mailbox, she decided to apply for a job at Vattenfall.
“It seemed interesting to go to a big company and try out several different tasks. And I think that energy is an exciting sector.”
Fadhel is also interested in environmental issues, and before starting her internship she thought a lot about Vattenfall’s eco-image.
“I really didn’t have much of an idea. I now know more about how Vattenfall operates from an ecological perspective.”
Nineteen-year old Rebecka Damgren knew that she wanted to continue her studies after secondary school. But she was not that sure what higher education course would suit her. After completing a four-month internship at Vattenfall’s hydro power department, her choice is now clear: She will study engineering.
In spring 2014, Damgren was still a science student in Sundsvall, Sweden. Then, on 1 September, she began her four-month internship at Vattenfall as part of the Tekniksprånget programme.
With the help of her supervisor Lars Bengtsson, she was able to see a great deal of the hydro power operations.
“I spent a week at the head office in Luleå, which was really great. I attended several interesting lectures and met some brilliant people,” she says. “I went on a study visit to the operations centre in Vuollerim and also visited Hedens fish farm.”
Damgren then spent three weeks at the Stadsforsen power plant, where she was able to observe the operations and maintenance work. “I took part in a dam inspection during which we checked that there were no cracks in the concrete and that the outlet hatches were operating correctly,” she explains.
When we interviewed Damgren, she was at the operations centre at Bispgården – which remotely controls and monitors 23 hydro power plants. She enthused: “I’m really enjoying my internship. It’s extremely interesting and there’s an incredible amount to learn.”
Damgren’s internship as part of the Tekniksprånget programme finished recently. Next, she will start studying.
“I looked at various engineering courses and have decided to go for civil engineering,” she says.
After safety training and some hassle concerning his authorisation, 19-year-old Oscar Eliasson was finally allowed to enter Ringhals nuclear power plant and the Tekniksprånget internship programme. After seven weeks on the job, he now has acquired a solid overview of the whole plant.
Eliasson knew early on that he wanted to become an engineer, the big question was only: in which area? After acquiring practical experience in four different departments at Ringhals’ reactors 3 and 4, the picture has become a bit clearer, he says.
“I studied technical subjects at school, and then gained work experience in electricity and electrical measuring instruments here. It’s been really valuable to get some idea about what the world of work is actually like. And how it feels to have a job at all,” he says. “In the future, I want a job that combines practical and theoretical aspects.”
On the first day of his internship, Eliasson lunched with another intern and their supervisors. The day then continued with safety training.
“After all, working at Ringhals is not just any odd job. There was a bit of authorisation to be organised before I could access the operations area, where one can in theory be exposed to radiation,” Eliasson explains. “It’s a big workplace requiring many different skills. I thought that was good, as I wanted to try out different things.”
Before his internship started, Eliasson had no particular image of Vattenfall. But the company was highly visible in the media during his internship, which made him think more about its activities.
“It seems strange that Vattenfall is investing in renewables in Sweden while at the same time running coal-fired plants in other countries.”
After his internship, he is planning a ski trip to the Alps before starting his studies the following autumn. “I’ll study engineering, but I haven’t yet decided on how long or with which speciality. I think I might go for electrical engineering.”