Unique meetings ensure future competence

Two times a year, Swedish engineer students and the forest industry get a unique opportunity to meet. By inviting students to prominent workplaces, they get a glimpse of possible careers in a growing branch in search of new skills. And it is effective: the study trip leaves 95% interested in working in the industry.

As a newly baked engineer in Sweden, the doors are wide open. A lot of industrial companies are, or will soon be, in need of new workforce with technical skills and need to attract new talents to their industry.

With this knowledge, the business cluster Paper Province arranges a very successful study trip by bus for engineering students. The trip is held twice a year, for Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg in the spring and for Karlstad University in the autumn.

“The students get to experience what life as an engineer could look like at our member companies in the area of Värmland, which is known for its blooming industries. It is a highly appreciated trip. Both by the students and the companies,” says Malin Hildén who works for paper Province and coordinates the trips.

New ways generate higher interest

Usually the trips include meeting eight companies, combining a total of three visits. Together the companies include the whole forest-based bioeconomy chain that the Paper Province cluster gather; all from subcontractors and consultants, to big mills within the paper and pulp industry.

What’s most unique about the trip is probably the way the presentations are held.

“By focusing on what it is like to work at the companies the students get knowledge of how they could fit in, and the opportunities that lie before them. Instead of letting the presentations focus on the company per se. The young engineers holding the presentations talk about what a day at work can look like, and what kind of career paths they have taken.”

“I liked the focus on the opportunities you have outside your major. Everyone shared their personal story and I was glad to learn that you are not expected to know everything when you first start a job”, says one of the students.

View changing trip

After each trip the students fill in an evaluation. And every year they express a raised interest for the forest and paper industry.

“This year 95 per cent said they wanted, or maybe wanted, to work in the industry after the trip. That also means that 88 per cent of the students that said that they could not see themselves working in the industry changed their minds afterwards to “maybe” or “yes”. And that is a big victory for us and our member companies,” says Malin Hildén.

The trip does not only change students’ outlook on the industry, it also presents work opportunities.

“Several of the students have done their thesis work, got a summer job or employment with one of the companies they met on the trip”.