By Roy Mabasa
Swedish businessmen have expressed strong interest in hiring Filipino software engineers and health care workers to fill up the current shortage they are experiencing in that coastal Scandinavian nation.
This was according to Sweden’s resident Ambassador to Manila Harald Fries who said that Swedish businessmen and entrepreneurs are eyeing the Philippines because of its “unique” advantage as compared to some of its neighbors in Southeast Asia, and even India.
“There’s a huge lack of software engineers in Sweden. They say there’s a shortage of 30,000 software engineers so they either come here and establish business and recruit and do their software development here. Some are looking at recruiting from here and bring them to Sweden,” the top Swedish diplomat said in a recent sit-down interview with a select group of journalists.
He noted that the Philippines has so many young and well-educated people, who know English and can easily work in Swedish companies.
“If they move to Sweden, it’s not necessary to know Swedish in order to work as a software engineer because the work is being done in English. It’s an easy transfer for young engineers here to do it. There was an increase in interest, either to come here or establish here or to recruit to Sweden,” the envoy said.
The Philippines’ uniqueness is also due to its big service industry sector like the BPOs, with 50 percent of its labor force under 25 years old.
Fries, who was first posted in Manila shortly after the EDSA revolution, expressed surprise about the rapid growth of the IT sector in the Philippines, particularly in the last two decades.
“That sector is full of creative and innovative people. Things are happening here. Swedish people can come here and try their luck and start their new business and make it. That I didn’t see 25 years ago,” he noted.
Aside from the IT sector, Fries said they are also closely studying the possibility of hiring nurses and caregivers.
Although there are several Swedish companies who are recruiting nurses and caregivers, Fries said this sector was a bit “costly and complicated”, considering that the Filipinos should be able to learn how to speak and understand Swedish well in order to work.
There are currently around 15,000 Filipino in that Scandinavian country, many of them married to Swedish nationals.