Annex J: Sweden

Annex to Report: Vision on Defence-Related Skills for Europe Today and Tomorrow

Published in: European Commission (2019)

by Julia Muravska, Jacopo Bellasio, Alice Lynch, Anna Knack, Katerina Galai, Marta Kepe, Antonia Ward, Arya Sofia Meranto, Davide Maistro, Martin Hansen

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Sweden demonstrates relatively high defence export activity and the capacity to design, manufacture and support a range of sophisticated weapon systems—and, crucially, to do so independently in those critical areas deemed essential to maintaining Sweden's sovereignty as part of its longstanding policy of armed neutrality. Sweden's decision not to join the NATO alliance led the government to prioritise the development of a strong Swedish DTIB and indigenous defence capabilities. The Swedish DTIB generated a turnover of €29 billion in 2015 and over 60 per cent of the Swedish DTIB's turnover is currently generated by exports, which amounted to €1.17 billion in 2017. Sweden's recognised centres of excellence include aerospace, underwater systems, cyber, automotive and telecommunications, which are increasingly expanding to include autonomous vehicles and robotics.

Sweden has purposefully pursued mutually reinforcing relationships between various government,industry and academic stakeholders to increase the efficiency of pooling resources and better align demand with supply for skills. The government also encourages regular collaboration to ensure close cooperation between stakeholders and maximise defence programmes' contribution to the Swedish economy. Equally, efforts have been made to ensure that defence programmes are recognised nationally as Swedish centres of excellence that can support non-defence industries. For example, the Gripen programme supported the development of Volvo by showcasing its engines for the civilian aviation market, and supported Ericsson by employing its products in military communications. Simultaneously, companies such as Volvo and Ericsson's investment in Sweden's universities, especially in engineering skills, has supported the growth of the pool of dual-use engineering skills, which the defence industry can leverage to its own benefit.

Sweden's Total Defence Strategy 2017 envisages a concept that could allow the whole of Swedish society to be mobilised in a severe security crisis, and also involves the participation of the whole of society in the development of Sweden's defence sector. With Swedish defence policy undergoing a transformation as a result, there is likely to be comprehensive reform of strategic planning processes that could include a more systematic approach towards the development of defence-related skills. A survey by the Swedish Security & Defence Association (SOFF) found that around one-third of Swedish youth surveyed expressed no intention of joining the defence industry due to moral reservations. However, the negative perception among young people appears to be changing.

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