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Old 12-02-2009, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
502 posts, read 1,159,367 times
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A Swede that I vaguely knew from graduate school recently contacted me about leads in the field of Information Technology here in the US. I work in pharmaceutical R&D, so I am not very familiar with IT's situation with regard to the economy except that most of my company's IT department has been annihilated. It is my understanding that IT has been hard hit throughout the US.

I have encountered many Swedish IT professionals over the years, and it has me thinking, why are so many Swedes employed in the field of IT? Is Computer Science/IT a very popular degree at Swedish Universities? A quick internet search revealed that IT is one of Sweden's biggest exports. How does Sweden compete with "cheaper" labor from other countries such as India and Russia. Are Swedish jobs protected by unions, something that we don't really have in the US for "white collar" jobs? Has the Swedish IT industry taken a blow from the economy as it has in the US?

It sounds to me like this acquaintance would perhaps have better job prospects in Sweden, than in the US. He somehow has a "green card" so he would not have to be sponsored by a US company if an opportunity becomes available.

Any insights from Swedes/EU city-data members?

Tack!

Last edited by NCInMyMind; 12-02-2009 at 02:55 PM..
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:01 PM
 
Location: Anchorage, Alaska (most of the time)
1,226 posts, read 3,431,348 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCInMyMind View Post
I have encountered many Swedish IT professionals over the years, and it has me thinking, why are so many Swedes employed in the field of IT? Is Computer Science/IT a very popular degree at Swedish Universities?
In my family, you either work for the Church of Sweden... or you get a degree in IT.
Add to that that I study at the University of Jönköping right now, where a major section of the students study IT related subjects.
So I might be a bit biased in my experience of the prevalance of IT students in Sweden...

But, yes, it does seem like IT is a popular field of study. Swedes in general are very interested in technique (sp?) and there is also a huge market for IT and related sciences.
Why? No idea, as I've never given it a thought. My brother who is getting an IT engineer degree (of some sort - I'm one of the church workers, btw) might be able to answer that. I can ask him next time I speak to him.

Quote:
A quick internet search revealed that IT is one of Sweden's biggest exports. How does Sweden compete with "cheaper" labor from other countries such as India and Russia. Are Swedish jobs protected by unions, something that we don't really have in the US for "white collar" jobs?
ALL jobs, whether it's blue or white or whatever, are protected by unions. It's the law.
How we compete with "cheaper labour" I can't tell. Again, maybe my brother knows.

Quote:
Has the Swedish IT industry taken a blow from the economy as it has in the US?
Uhm... I don't think it has? Everyone I know studying IT at the university here believes they have a job waiting for them pretty much as soon as they graduate. Judging from that, it can't have been that affected.

Quote:
Tack!
Varsågod! Hope it helped in atleast some degree?
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
502 posts, read 1,159,367 times
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Sweden,

Thanks for your input. I would most definitely appreciate any further insight your brother might have regarding Sweden's IT industry. I find it quite interesting that Sweden has so many citizens gainfully employed in one industry. I am happy that at least one country seems to be weathering this economic storm.

On a side note: I attended a conference a few years ago in Jönköping.

My wife and I have traveled to Sweden several times and are always impressed by its cleanliness, politeness, and beauty. Our favorite times have been the Midsummer celebrations on Öland. We loved how late the sun sets during your summers!

Personally, I have no idea why this acquaintance would want to leave Sweden for such an unstable job market in the US.
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Old 12-03-2009, 08:14 AM
 
Location: LA, US / Malmo, SWE
314 posts, read 810,004 times
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I'm from Sweden.
I think it's just the culture here, everybody (since early age) just sits home at their computers all the time.
You don't go out to meet friends, you speak to them online playing games etc.
Also nearly everybody has broadband..
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Old 12-03-2009, 10:30 AM
 
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I work in a large Norwegian based IT company. In the years to come many IT jobs are going to be transferred to low cost countries like India. My company have already acquired three companies in India and Ukranie. I guess the situation will be pretty much the same in Sweden.
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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Sweden has a long engineering tradition for a small nation with Volvo, ABB (a power and automation engineering technology congramorate, originally known as ASEA before it merged with a Swiss company) Saab and Ericsson, so I think the current focus on IT comes from that tradition.
We also have some other factors.
During the second half of the 90’s Sweden had a multitude of internet companies and ventures. This was in part due to the international interest in the web, but also because with Ericsson and Nokia (this Finnish company that has huge HQ in Stockholm) there were a lot of people around with the “right” background.
There were also players in the new born Swedish web industry that you would not expect such as the Swedish postal service, which in the mid 90’s had several internet projects going as well and was the 3: rd largest purchaser of IT consultants after Ericsson and Telia (the old state run phone provider, now a public company).

I am sure you are familiar with Skype and Kazaa, the old peer-to-peer file sharing program. Both programs were created by two former students from my hometown Uppsala University, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis (who actually is from Denmark).

Zennström and Friis are probably the best known people to come out of the late 90’s internet boom.
We also have some other factors.

PC’s used to be quite expensive. A Swedish trade union came up with a concept were the employers could buy PC’s for their employees (usually they had a deal with a specific store or a chain) and then the employee would pay it off, interest free, taking the money straight out of the paycheck every month. This is how many families would get their PC (along with a modem etc, etc) in the 90’s when a computer still could be very pricy.

The government put a real effort into broadband connections being easily obtained in all parts of the country. Keep in mind that many parts of Sweden are VERY rural. My grandmother in rural northern Sweden had broadband several years before I could get it in rural Virginia.
The poster here known as Stolpioni does make a point.

A very important factor here is that most of Sweden consists of smaller and midsized towns. Sure we HAVE cities Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo…but most are rural or semi-rural smaller cities or towns. There used to be a saying that if you lived outside Stockholm, you ended up playing in a band. There is a certain truth there, but I think you can easily say that if you were not into sports --- you were into computers and IT : -)

I know I am rambling a bit here, but I hope I have given you a VERY quick and much generalized overview.

How the future looks, I cannot answer.

Sweden’s high taxes tends to keep salaries down, so while a talented and hard working programmer can make a very comfortable living, he will probably not make the same amount as an American counterpart….so (I am guessing here) maybe outsourcing is NOT as immanent as in the US??
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
502 posts, read 1,159,367 times
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Very interesting insights. Thank you.

Swedish IT professionals may very well be paid less than their American counterparts--I have no idea.

My American IT colleagues have enlightened me to a disturbing trend. There was a huge influx of IT professionals in the mid to late 90's. As such, companies are now laying off these IT folks and re-hiring some at half the salary. Because there are so many IT professionals in competition (much of it foreign) for fewer jobs, these companies can get away with offering little financial compensation, as a lower paying job is better than none.

My employer, a very large British pharmaceutical company, laid off a very significant part of our IT staff. Their logic: anyone who can use a computer can essentially fill the role of the IT department, even if it takes more time. I find it insulting to just dismiss the qualifications of an entire profession. Plus, I "waste" time on issues that could be quickly handled by our now defunct IT department.

Many former IT professionals have returned to university for Law, Engineering, and other degrees in hopes of entering new fields.

Obviously, many IT professionals are still doing very well in the US, but it has been a hard hit industry.

I still can't figure out how Sweden will compete against cheaper labor from "emerging" nations. This has been a HUGE issue in the US. However, most "white collar" jobs are not protected by a professional union.

Last edited by NCInMyMind; 12-03-2009 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:22 PM
 
506 posts, read 1,310,139 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCInMyMind View Post
I still can't figure out how Sweden will compete against cheaper labor from "emerging" nations. This has been a HUGE issue in the US. However, most "white collar" jobs are not protected by a professional union.
The unions could be ONE reason.....but over all, I really do not know.

Most of my friends in Sweden works in IT...I'll ask around and will try to find a better answer.
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
502 posts, read 1,159,367 times
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Thanks Mr_Jonas.

I really hope that Sweden does not experience the economic upheaval that we in the US have.

I don't work in IT, but as a scientist/engineer I worry everyday about my job being transferred to India or China.
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Old 12-03-2009, 02:33 PM
 
Location: Sweden
23,883 posts, read 67,587,011 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stolpioni View Post
I'm from Sweden.
I think it's just the culture here, everybody (since early age) just sits home at their computers all the time.
You don't go out to meet friends, you speak to them online playing games etc.
Also nearly everybody has broadband..
That's not really true.
Maybe you kids does it,but most of us others doesn't.
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