The Swedish industry’s needs of competences in sustainable development
Other conference contribution, 2010

The main topic of the EESD’10 conference is “Learning for transformation”, and it is stated that engineering education institutions can play a large role in this transformation. It is thus important for such institutions to have an understanding of what competences are needed amongst future engineers regarding sustainable development (SD). This paper discusses the need of competences in SD sought after by the Swedish industry. It also presents a comparison to the engineering education at Chalmers University of Technology (Chalmers) in order to analyze whether the education at hand meets the competence needs within the industry. The paper is based on interviews with SD managers and other relevant personnel at 16 major companies in Sweden and a focus group with people from five different organizations. The companies cover areas such as manufacturing, energy, consultancy, and construction companies based in Sweden with both domestic and international presence. The paper is also based on an analysis of course contents in the 70 environmental and SD courses conducted at Chalmers. Additionally, the interviews and course content analysis were compared to Chalmers alumni and students’ views on the need of SD competences, through two surveys in the form of questionnaires. The results indicate that the Swedish industry demand a higher competence in SD amongst all engineers. The company interviewees mention that all engineers need a better understanding of basic issues regarding SD in order to make relevant choices in their daily work. This is confirmed by the alumni, where 35 % claim that they encounter SD issues sometimes or daily in their work, but at the same time only 47 % of the above mentioned alumni claim they have enough competence to make decisions from an SD perspective. The company interviewees and alumni regard environmental issues and sustainable business development as important SD competences areas. The company interviewees also mention communication regarding SD as another integral area. The course content analysis has shown that environmental issues are focused upon the most in the SD education at Chalmers, and business development and social issues are less focused upon.


Swedish industry’s needs

higher education

engineering education

Education for Sustainable Development


Andreas Hanning

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Anna Priem Abelsson

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

EESD'10 conference proceedings

Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

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