Building a collaborative ecosystem to attract and retain the future talents our industries need today

Silicon Valley has long been known for tech and innovation and Hong Kong for finance and business. Today, there’s an emerging hot spot for green industrial transition in Sweden.

More talent is needed, but not necessarily altogether in one geographical location since collaboration across borders is also vital to achieve success.

ABB is no stranger to building up industrial hubs in specific places and working in close-knit environments with other companies. We can think of Västerås, close to my own heart and home in Sweden, the Greater Zurich Area in Switzerland, where we’re known for our decades of electrification and automation, and today our operations centers in Prague, Czech Republic, and Bengaluru, India. There are many more I could name, including Santiago, Chile, and our Digital Solutions Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, but while place remains important, today’s talent pool is focused on making an impact and believe they can do that from anywhere. If our process industries are going to harness the skills these people have and which we need, a balance must be struck between local and global resources.

Taking one example from the many locations in Sweden where ABB is expanding operations, we have a burgeoning community in the north of the country – Skellefteå. This is an industrial hub with a difference. It is building up to be a location that is not only centered around innovation and technology, but that is also sustainable and circular. It is also run on 100% renewable energy. In our industries, including mining, pulp and paper, metals and battery manufacturing, we don’t always get to choose where we work as it depends on where ore bodies, forests or water supplies are located. Here, we’re working in a location that is not always highly populated, but in our view – and the view of many suppliers and customers – it will be crucial for Europe’s energy transition. It has no ambitions to be a place where the masses flock to, like the metropolises of Asia, the US or Germany, but rather a new, modern place where people can be when needed and work from other global locations when it is not essential to be there. However, northern Sweden is an attractive place to live and work, with infrastructure, fantastic nature, amenities and things to do, and it can become a dream location to settle down.

For those working remotely, there are many benefits of working at a global company. At ABB, it is possible to support critical global projects from an office with mountain views in Sweden, while enjoying the beautiful nature and outdoor activities outside business hours. Today’s modern projects have high levels of inter-company collaboration and important sustainability content, reflecting ABB’s mission. Like many companies, ABB frequently seeks engineers, software developers, project managers, service technicians and sales specialists, among a wide variety of other roles. They have the skills to support the investments that ABB and its customers are making in electrification and digital projects worldwide.

Why Northern Sweden?

You may not be able to point to Skellefteå on a map just yet, but the city, its surrounding Västerbotten region and the neighboring Norrbotten does touch your life. Or rather, you will probably interact with materials from this area every day. It is a beautiful landscape and home to some of the world’s oldest and many of the world’s most modern mining operations, including by Swedish firms Boliden and LKAB. Both of which ABB works side by side. The metals and minerals produced are in many electronics, medical devices and vehicles. In terms of the energy transition, electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels cannot be produced without such mined materials. The city is also the home of Northvolt, a gigafactory set to produce 200,000 green lithium-ion batteries annually. It is the largest single-site investment in Europe and has the backing of major car marques such as Volkswagen, Volvo and BMW on their journey to green transportation.

In a nutshell, the city has some of the most affordable renewable clean energy in the world, access to the best knowledge and experience of mining and metals recycling and aims to be globally significant for battery manufacturing with circularity built in. Investment plans for Northvolt alone stand at more than $6 billion up to 2030. At the same time Boliden and LKAB are global leaders making huge investments in transforming the mining industry to a fossil free low carbon Industry, whereas improving LKAB’s processes can help reduce global CO2 emissions by between 40 and 50 million tons each year. This is really the place to be if you want to be part of creating the future industrial systems that supports a more sustainable world.

Taking action together

ABB has already taken action to ensure that we’re working with the foremost players in the industries we work. This goes for mining, whereby we’re on the cusp of breakthroughs in autonomous and all-electric mine operations alongside leading mining companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and technology innovators. The use of our decades of expertise in pulp and paper to modernize, digitalize and diversify can be seen here in Sweden where we’ve had recent automation and electrification successes with textile recycling firm Renewcell, energy storage innovators SaltX and sawmill operator Moelven. In the metals and High Power Rectifier (HPR) fields, we’re closely exploring green steel and hydrogen production methods together with customers to create the new green steel plants.

It is in upskilling and talent sourcing where we also look to collaborate with other industrial partners to cover the industries need of automation, digitalization and electrification skillsets. One of our priorities is to provide interesting career opportunities where continuous learning in our daily work, improving step by step every day, helps to attract the right talent mix. ABB, as a large company, provides many diverse opportunities to grow throughout a career, whether it is in new technologies, geographies or management.

We also challenge ourselves to nurture the next generation by collaborating with universities and research centers to ensure the education curriculums are shaped according to industry needs. In Sweden, we collaborate with Mälardalen University, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Linköping University. Our joint projects focus on research and development to drive the future of industries and we have professors who divide their time between ABB and academic institutions. We believe encouraging young people to learn about technology, automation and digitalization is the way forward alongside finding technology solutions to retain existing knowledge when people retire or move on.

When we find the right way, new talent – together with our current and future Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools, many asset monitoring and energy efficiency solutions – will reach answers to positively impact the global climate change and legislative targets we’re all facing.

So, if you like technology and would like to be part of many initiatives at the forefront of global green industrial transition, Sweden is the place to be or collaborate with.

Interested in making a positive impact on society and environment? We are seeking talents to innovate and develop solutions that create value for our customers. Take a look at our current job listings and apply now.  

Categories and Tags
About the author

Bjorn Jonsson

Björn Jonsson is Hub Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB, and responsible for Process Automation (PA), ABB, in Sweden. He has developed and influenced the PA business area throughout his career, holding several leading positions within service and sales since joining ABB in 2003. Björn has a particular focus on the Nordic countries, where he is based, supporting PA to offer a broad range of products, systems, and solutions for customers in the process and hybrid industries. He holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, as well as several leadership qualifications.
Comment on this article