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Newly immigrated engineers are becoming increasingly important in ÅF’s recruiting

There is a shortage of engineers in Sweden. ÅF has been very active in recent years with finding newly immigrated and foreign-born engineers. At present, ÅF has employed 76 persons via the New Immigrated Engineers project.

In 2015, ÅF started a recruiting project to attract and recruit more foreign-born and recently immigrated engineers. Amir Nazari was designated as a diversity coach in 2016 and the programme has been further developed under his leadership. Since then, 130 trainees have been brought in through the programme, of which 124 have been employed by ÅF to date after concluding their trainee period.

“There is a shortage of engineers with experience and the substantial need for recruiting was a major factor for starting the project,” says Amir Nazari. “Engineering expertise is, despite all, rather limited here in Sweden and there aren’t enough skilled people for all the projects and the technical development that we want to conduct here in Sweden. So for ÅF it is an absolute necessity to look beyond Sweden’s borders and bring in people and expertise from other countries.”

It was mainly newly immigrated engineers who came in via the programme at the beginning. These days it’s even foreign-born engineers who have lived in Sweden for a longer period, guest students and people who have been recruited directly from other countries who are coming in. In addition to the need for expertise, development of the company is also an important part of the project. Getting people with other perspectives is important. People from the programme often bring new creative ideas and dynamics to the workplace. They open new ways of discussing and solving problems. 

“Diversity creates engagement, creates harmony, creates dynamics,” says Amir Nazari. “The working environment becomes much better, with more energy and a greater sense of joy.” 

In collaboration with Jobbsprånget and Korta Vägen 

Understanding different cultures and languages also creates new business opportunities. It becomes easier to break into new markets, in new countries.  ÅF comes in contact with potential employees in many ways. In part through collaboration with channels such as the Swedish Public Employment Service and programmes like Jobbsprånget and Korta Vägen for bringing newly arrived foreign engineers and academics into the labour market, as well as through advertisements in social media and via direct contact with those in management positions.

As the programme spreads, increasing numbers of people have taken direct contact with Amir. In his coaching role, Amir helps in matching needs for expertise with the right candidate. He also helps in applying for and obtaining all the requisite permits, and provides the support the trainees and managers need. That ÅF has a person working full time with these matters is something that Amir feels is one reason why the programme has succeeded, but also that the same requirements and recruiting process apply as with a conventional employment. 

"Diversity makes us stronger as a team"

Mats Påhlsson heads the Infrastructure division at ÅF and is one of those who helped start the project. “I found out about Amir mainly due to his talents in engineering, but also because he has such a solid background in coaching sports. At ÅF we work actively with diversity because we know that it makes us stronger as a team and in providing consulting services to our customers. With Amir as the diversity coach, we’ve been able to recruit many skilled people from all over the world, and with different perspectives, creativity increases,” he says, and Amir agrees:

“People from the programme often bring new creative ideas and dynamic ways of working to the company. They open new ways of discussing and solving problems. Diversity promotes engagement and teamwork. “The working environment becomes much better, with more energy and a greater sense of joy.”

The goal was set at the beginning of the project for 120 persons to come in via the programme by 2020. This goal will be reached sooner than planned, possibly even next year. But the primary goal is to establish the programme as an ongoing base for recruiting.