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Record investments in the north and the University's important role in the supply of skills

Published: 3 March 2021

The opportunity to attract the expertise needed to ensure competitive companies and well-functioning, high-quality community services is a challenge that Sweden shares with many countries around the world.

In northern Sweden, this is more obvious than in many other places due to low unemployment in combination with almost unimaginably large investments – over a thousand billion SEK over the next 10-20 years. Many of the investments, such as Northvolt, HYBRIT, LKAB's investment in carbon-free sponge iron and most recently H2 Green Steel, are crucial for Sweden and Europe to meet the climate goals.

It is a pleasant challenge that shows the attractiveness of Norrbotten and Västerbotten – but a challenge nonetheless. The University has an important role to play and we take this task very seriously through a variety of initiatives.

"We need to speed up"

In addition to our regular educational offer of programmes and courses, LTU Professional Education and our work with commissioned education are very important to ensure organizations' supply of skills and individuals' lifelong learning. Here we need to clarify our level of ambition and increase speed. Commissioned training is an important part of our educational mission, in addition it is relatively unregulated and therefore constitutes a good arena for trying out new forms of education in collaboration with external actors.

A newly started project initiated by Luleå University of Technology together with Boliden, LKAB, Mobilaris, Northvolt, Skellefteå Kraft and SSAB is T-25, which aims to increase the number of inhabitants in northern Sweden by 25,000 people within five years. To succeed in this, we have four areas that we will focus on:
• Increase the number of engineering students who are accepted and who stay in the region after graduation.
• Take advantage of all competent people who are looking for a job in the region.
• Secure employment for the accompanying and be able to offer support and help with housing, preschool and school, and all other practical issues you need help with when moving to a new place or country.
• Take advantage of the unique situation we are in with establishments that will revolutionize several industries and be crucial for Europe's green transition.

In recent weeks, additional companies, but also regions and municipalities, have joined the T-25 initiative. We have also broadened our focus and included non-technical educations and students. Although the majority of the establishments are technology-oriented, we need a wide range of expertise to build attractive communities and municipalities.

Opportunities to influence

At the national level, ambitious work is being carried out with skills supply and lifelong learning as one of four themes in the Government's strategic collaboration program. At Luleå University of Technology, we are three people who participate in this work: Pro Vice-Chancellor Pär Weihed, Professor Jessica Körning-Ljungberg and myself. The participation gives us good opportunities to influence both direction and concrete measures in the area.

In the coming years, Luleå University of Technology has a particularly important role to play in terms of competence development and lifelong learning and we have unique opportunities to position ourselves as one of Europe's and Sweden's strongest universities when it comes to research and education in the green transition.

Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology.
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