Scandinavia’s construction skills shortage

28 February 2018

Denmark and Sweden are seeing massive growth in construction, however, finding employees with the right skills is proving a major challenge.

Both Denmark and Sweden are seeing massive growth in construction, from private housing to large industrial buildings, on a scale that is larger than before the financial crises (2007).

While the increase in work flow is an exciting opportunity for contractors, it is presenting a major challenge due to the limited availability of qualified staff.

This is being addressed by hiring from Eastern Europe, engaging younger local workers and implementing technological innovations including robotics.

Within the region, construction resources have been declining for almost eight years. The impact is a ‘missing’ generation of employees.

Attracting fresh talent to the construction sector

To reverse this, promotion of construction as a career has been prioritised via public education and within the industry.

Programmes are being launched to generate youth interest in more traditional roles including carpenters and electricians.

Contractors are investing in their older workforce, through education and by engaging them in mentoring new or younger staff.

Using robotics for construction

Robotics are increasingly used for simple or repetitive processes – e.g., drilling in concrete when preparing for installation.

Here robots can be placed in areas with new concrete immediately, while the vapour present requires a standstill period for employees.

Robotics can help minimise the building period, have a positive impact on workforce health and create interest from a generation of workers who want to work with a robot rather than use a hammer.

While robots are still rare, offsite manufacture of prefabricated components is increasingly common; assembly is by skilled workers but training is quicker than a traditional trade.

Increased use of building information modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design Construction (VDC), is also allowing scarce resources to be deployed more efficiently throughout the project.

In both countries we are looking to attract a younger generation and employ technical innovations to support future growth of the industry.

For more information contact Kirsten Frederiksen, Associate at JLT Specialty Insurance Broker A/S on