Swedish carmaker Saab's bankruptcy in Trollhättan resulted in rapid and substantial increase of unemployment in a number of affected municipalities. Before bankruptcy, Trollhättan was already the municipality with the highest unemployment rate in the province of Västra Götaland – a 17% share of the workforce compared to 8.3% for the whole of Västra Götaland.
Youth unemployment in the municipality is also of particular concern at 35.7% compared to the average 17.5% in Västra Götaland. There is a need, therefore, for strong measures with immediate effect, which will also contribute to long-term renewal of the economy and prospects for development. The Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, the Ministry of Employment and the Ministry of Education and Research acted together to create optimal conditions for the region’s recovery.
The biggest investment aims at boosting education and training. In 2012, approximately 1 850 new places at universities, higher vocational education and municipal adult education will be available. The investment continues with approximately 1 600 places in 2013 and about 300 places in 2014. Total cost of education and training places, including student aid, amounts to SEK 376.5 million from 2012 to 2014. Higher vocational education is a relatively new form of education in Sweden leading to non-academic post-secondary vocational education and training. This increased number of higher vocational education places will be allocated by the Swedish National Agency of Higher Vocational Education to education providers. In the case of places in adult vocational education/adult education, The National Agency of Education, on behalf of the government, will allocate these to local municipalities.
The Swedish Public Employment Service (AF) has received SEK 1.2 billion in additional administrative funds in the budget for 2012 to prevent and break long-term unemployment. AF, together with welfare organisations and local stakeholders, has established a separate office in Trollhättan for Saab employees, to achieve maximum coordination.
A common denominator of the measures is the importance of good collaboration among government, municipalities and businesses for the region's strengths to be exploited in a time of rapid changes. The work will take advantage of the unique conditions of development capability of individuals and the competitiveness of businesses in the region.
These efforts are superimposed on top of previous efforts in Trollhättan and Västra Götaland. In 2009 the government decided to supply SEK 602 million for innovation, education and labour market measures. These include actions in labour market policy, education, and efforts to strengthen entrepreneurship and development. These measures included the previously announced addition of SEK 60 million to enable centre Innovatum’s projects for electric car development. Altogether, over a billion Swedish kroner will be allocated to jobs and growth in 2010-14 directly linked to those concerned with Saab’s bankruptcy.
Another characteristic of the initiative is emphasis on education and training to give individuals affected by changes renewed conditions and opportunities to find new ways to new occupations. This investment means that they will also make use of the experience of upper secondary adult education available, an established form of schooling in Sweden since 1968. Education and training has often been an approach to problems in times of economic downturn. The ambition is to provide temporary support measures in combination with forward-looking education for the individual, and long-term positive effects for local communities.