These agreements are leading-edge. This demonstrates that where social partners are in command, they are best placed to find the most suitable and far-reaching answers to the challenges of the labour market transformation. Combined with the financial support from the Swedish government, the agreements become a very powerful tool to deliver on a fair and inclusive green and digital transition.
The Swedish social partners have concluded two new national agreements on skills development. These agreements (signed on 22 June) are connected to a set of new legislation (adopted by the Swedish Parliament on 8 June) that provides the necessary financing for training, reskilling, and upskilling.
An individual right to training stands out as a key feature. The agreement on ‘education support for transition’ gives individuals who are employed or in-between jobs the right to financial support for shorter or longer training courses to develop their skills. As such, it will facilitate job-to-job transitions, improve the skills and job security of workers already in employment, and promote lifelong learning. Companies benefit in terms of a more productive and skilled work force.
The main benefits for workers are improved training rights with generous financing in the form of grants and loans. The new ‘education support for transition’ applies to individuals who have worked for at least eight years during the last 14 years. The agreements will run in parallel to the existing education support system. The grant will replace 80% of the net income, up to a ceiling of €3,000 per month, or 65% up to a ceiling of €6,600 a month. An additional loan of up to €1,170 can be added to that.
Full-time students can take three semesters (66 weeks) off to study and requalify. The new rights apply to workers who have already established themselves in the labour market. Company-specific training will continue and be funded by the individual employer.
Non-profit organisations run by the social partners will assist with transitions, either to studies, new jobs or the change to self-employment. Previously, such support was only available for employees with open-ended contracts, but now employees with fixed-term contracts will also be able to call on the transition organisations TRR (for white-collar workers) or TSL (for blue-collar workers). Moreover, the support will now be available for workers in employment, who can receive guidance for further education and training.
Isabelle Barthès, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe:
“These agreements are leading-edge. This demonstrates that where social partners are in command, they are best placed to find the most suitable and far-reaching answers to the challenges of the labour market transformation. Combined with the financial support from the Swedish government, the agreements become a very powerful tool to deliver on a fair and inclusive green and digital transition.”
Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe:
“Guaranteeing a Just Transition is becoming an existential issue for many of our industries. Skills gaps and labour shortages are the Achilles’ heel of Europe’s Green Deal. The scale of upskilling and reskilling needed to meet our climate and digital ambitions is equivalent to an industrial revolution of its own. This must be anticipated and managed to ensure smooth transitions for workers and their communities.
"The agreements negotiated in Sweden recognise the scale of the challenge and provide a framework to ensure the opportunities of the twin transition are grasped. This is exactly the kind of approach we advocate in our Just Transition Manifesto launched in May of this year. We need the European Commission and EU decision-makers to recognise that just transitions cannot be guaranteed without a supportive and negotiated framework of rights and resources.”
A detailed report is available in our Collective Bargaining Database here.