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Contract education supports the Swedish Companies Registration Office's digitalisation

Published: 16 December 2021

In 2020, the Swedish Companies Registration Office signed an agreement with Luleå University of Technology on contract education in IT for its business developers. One of those who have benefited from the collaboration is Nina Brede.

– You get job satisfaction from feeling that you are keeping up. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. You need to acquire new skills if you want to stay relevant throughout your career.

The Swedish Companies Registration Office is located in Sundsvall and has just over 600 employees. All Swedish limited companies must submit their annual report to the Swedish Companies Registration Office annually, and in 2020 the authority received almost 600,000 annual reports – the equivalent of 1,7 kilometers of stacked papers.

The annual reports are also handled by, among others, the Swedish Tax Agency and the Swedish Accounting Standards Board. To facilitate management for companies, information intermediaries such as credit information companies and authorities, the annual reports are digitized. It is a time-consuming job as the majority are still submitted in paper. In those cases, each annual report must be scanned and data digitized via manual transcription.

Digitization for increased efficiency and service

In 2016, the Swedish Companies Registration Office was commissioned by the government to digitize the process for submitting and handling the annual reports. Since then, there has been rapid development: In 2020, one sixth of companies submitted their annual reports in digital form, while this year's share appears to be growing to almost a third of the total number.

Nina Brede is a business developer at the Swedish Companies Registration Office's digitalization and innovation department. She works to develop the agency's digital services:

– We are trying to get rid of the manual hack in a digital world. We always want to increase our level of service to companies and the stakeholders and actors who need access to company information, she says.

Focus on contract education

The Swedish Companies Registration Office has previously had positive experiences of contract education. In 2020, they contacted Luleå University of Technology to negotiate a new agreement for their 50 or so business developers. Their training started in the spring of 2021.

– The Swedish Companies Registration Office was interested in several courses in our bachelor's program in digital service development. I tailored a training package where they participate remotely in regular courses together with our students, says Mari Runardotter, assistant professor of information systems and responsible for the Swedish Companies Registration Office's commissioned education at Luleå University of Technology.

– Right now I am taking the course Business and Digital Entrepreneurship, and will later study Strategic Service Design and Organizational Development Through IT, says Nina Brede, and adds: It is the customer perspective that interests me. To be able to understand the customers' needs and how we can meet them with the help of digital component possibilities.

New knowledge, inspiration and energy

– The course gives me a lot of inspiration. A big compliment to the students - in the group sessions I learn so much. It becomes an extra dimension in addition to the course content. The students are the future entrepreneurs and Sweden needs more entrepreneurs for us to have a good future. They are the ones I work for at the Swedish Companies Registration Office. They are the ones we should invest in. The students give me a lot of energy and inspiration, says Nina.

– The knowledge we provide helps the Swedish Companies Registration Office to achieve its goals. The focus is on users and their needs, and how digital technology enables better service, Mari explains.

– I have been able to confirm that what we do is right, to be out and talking to the target groups to understand their needs. I have also gained insight into what we can’t do ourselves but that others can help us with. In this way, the training has inspired us to strengthen certain collaborations, says Nina.

– You have to understand what is happening and keep up with those changes to be relevant. As a government agency that helps companies, with a kind of monopoly, we must live up to even higher standards. We must be able to meet the expectations of new young entrepreneurs who are used to being completely digital.

A win-win-win situation

Nina Brede believes that contract education benefits all parties involved.

– My employer, myself and Luleå University of Technology win on this. For me, having a university stamp is extra gratifying. I know that the courses are quality assured and have a high status. You get job satisfaction from feeling that you are keeping up, she says.

Mari Runardotter agrees that it is a successful form of collaboration:

– As a teacher, I see similar positive effects in all our contract education. The meeting between young students and professionals is enriching. Experienced professionals like Nina contribute with concrete challenges to our cases and discussions, while they also get fresh perspectives and new thoughts that they can bring back to their work.

Lifelong learning

The increasing pace of society’s development creates a demand for continuous development of competences, says Nina Brede.

– I could imagine taking a new course every winter. When you have taken a course, you want to have time to apply what you have learned. Then you realize what you are missing and can take complementary courses. Learning is lifelong in this, if you want to be relevant throughout your professional life, you need to acquire new skills. I talk about real time data, and it's almost like that with knowledge now as well. You have to monitor and keep up with what is happening in the world. If you don’t, you’re left clueless, she concludes.