Strong interest in sustainable skills supply

On Thursday 19 May, the Västerbotten Chamber of Commerce organised a skills supply day with Sustainable Industrial Environments of the Future as the main partners. In total, the event attracted nearly 80 managers and employees working with skills supply, recruitment and training.

Common challenges and insights

The event was initiated by the needs expressed by several companies within the Future Industrial Environments in combination with the Västerbotten Chamber of Commerce's mission within competence supply for long-term growth in Västerbotten.

The programme included lecturers from Stockholm, Gothenburg, Lund and Umeå. Fredrik Stranne, employer branding expert at Coreworkers, began with an insight into how an organisation can be sustainably attractive to talent and employees. An exciting insight was that the trend is moving from attracting talent to retaining the talent that is already employed.

Content with many perspectives

The day also highlighted communication for sustainability, equality and gender equality in industry, recruitment of foreign-born workers and the industry's need for skills in practical occupations linked to young people's choice of studies. In addition to the exciting content, there was space to network and share thoughts and ideas in various workshops.

The day ended with a panel discussion with the Governor of Västerbotten and participants from Komatsu Forest, SB-Insight, Vkna and Region Västerbotten.

See you in 2023, right?

The aim is for the Skills Supply Day to become an annual event, starting in 2022. Finally, we would like to thank the Västerbotten Chamber of Commerce and Siv Forssèn, who was responsible for the planning and implementation.

ABB makes a difference with new sustainability strategy

Environmental degradation and overuse of earth's resources endanger the health and prospects of many people around the world. In its new sustainability strategy, ABB wants to make its stand to create a more sustainable society.

"As a major player, we have the opportunity to make a difference," says Johan Granström, business developer at ABB.

ABB's sustainability strategy, which ran until 2020, contributed to many progress. The company managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 58 percent, water use by 39 percent and emissions of volatile organic compounds by 29 percent. In addition, the number of women in management increased by 13.5 per cent.

"We have come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I am really looking forward to the next decade with a new and updated sustainability strategy," says Johan Granström.

Johan Granström ABB, Photo: Jonas Bilberg
Together with others, change is created

One of the major goals is to contribute to a low-carbon society.

"But it is not only our own operations that will become carbon neutral, but we will also help our customers reduce their emissions by at least 100 megatonnes per year. We are taking a greater grip on the entire value chain, quite simply," says Johan Granström.

Long-term competitiveness

ABB also continues to work hard with goals related to the safety and health of employees, as well as diversity and inclusion throughout the company.

"All of these goals I want to mean are directly crucial for our competitiveness in the long term," says Johan Granström.

In all its business, ABB uses a code of conduct, a code of conduct, which will ensure that all business partners work actively to improve the environment, health and social conditions.

"The Code of Conduct provides practical guidance to our staff, suppliers and business partners. It should be a clear reminder that we should always take responsibility and act with integrity," says Johan Granström.

Sustainability as a natural part of everyday life

He believes that sustainability is an area that must be decentralized in order to have an impact, which means that the strategy also affects work locally in Umeå.

"The goals are integrated into our operations and should be driven by each business area, while the individual has the opportunity to make decisions that help us achieve our goals.

At ABB, all sustainability goals may take the same place as purely economic goals. They are also followed up all the way from the local operations to group management.

"It is incredibly important that sustainability work is embedded in the store and followed up in this way, rather than being something that lies in its own silo on the side. This creates the right conditions and drivers for lasting change," says Johan Granström.

New system helps Ålö keep a close eye on the work environment

Ålös free system work environment work has made it easier to report incidents, analyze and follow up.

Tina Björkman

"The system supports us in the systematic work environment work, helps us keep track of what to do," says Tina Björkman, HR Manager at Ålö.

Ålö works systematically to achieve a good organizational, social and physical work environment. The company performs regular and thorough risk assessments to prevent accidents and work-related illness, and continuously encourages all employees to report all accidents and incidents.

Systems for a safer and more efficient workplace

Since 2019, the system TIA – Technology Information System about Work Environment has been used. The system is free of charge for companies that have occupational injury insurance with AFA and are highly appreciated among Ålös employees.

"We use it mostly to report incidents and accidents and to support in safety rounds. Once you have entered the system, it is very user-friendly. If I have entered an accident report, it is only a push of a button away to report it to the AFA and the Swedish Work Environment Authority. There is no risk of missing any steps in the process," says Tina Björkman.

Systematized way of working creates order

At Ålö, both targeted and general safety rounds are carried out. The rounds are many and sometimes it can be difficult for managers to keep track of which round was made last and which one it is time for next.

"We have put our own templates for rounds in the system, which helps us to keep track of what is done and what should be done. This really makes it easier for managers and safety representatives," says Tina Björkman.

All incidents and accidents are recorded in TIA and all actions are addressed to the managers concerned.

"The manager immediately receives a pling in the emails if an employee has reported an incident. Thanks to TIA, we don't miss anything and nothing falls between the chairs.

Analysis of incidents

When Tina Björkman enters TIA, she immediately gets an updated picture of the number of incidents and more. She can also choose which period she wants to be informed about. From the data, it is easy to pick out reports that can then be analyzed.

"What incidents have we had, are there any connections, do we see patterns that we can work on? After that, we can draw up an action plan," says Tina Björkman.

At the end of 2020, she introduced that Ålö should each year pick out the three most prevalent areas where incidents or accidents have occurred.

"In this way, we can see patterns that we might not have discovered as early.

Health and safety comes first

Tina Björkman thinks it is important to encourage a culture where it is okay to report incidents and accidents.

"No employee should be questioned for reporting an incident. It is also important to be clear about why it is so important to report – it is about the safety and health of our employees. We constantly remind the entire organization to report everything that has happened.

Umeå Energi wants to change the legislation – no one should be able to dump waste

Umeå Energi is part of a collaboration with other district heating companies that want to work for responsible waste management. The aim is, among other things, to change the legislation so that rogue operators do not have the opportunity to dump waste instead of taking care of it.

"This is a very important issue, which will grow year on year. Especially in southern Sweden, there are major problems with dumped waste, but it creeps north," says Mårten Henriksson, Area Manager Infrastructure at Umeå Energi.

In the world, we are becoming more and more people consuming more and more. It creates large amounts of waste, which are not always taken care of properly. In Sweden, we have been a world-leading nation for decades, knowing how to create energy from waste – climate-smart and resource efficient. But here, too, there are major problems with rogue operators who, at a low price, receive waste and then dump it in a field.

"According to the legislation, you are allowed to temporarily store waste on surfaces for three years. The amount you are allowed to store amounts to 10,000 tons. There is a lot of waste and these rogue actors can get paid well for it – and then they do not take responsibility but leave it lying," says Mårten Henriksson and continues:

"Swedish legislation is a bit tricky, so it is easy for cases to fall between the chairs between different authorities. We are several district heating companies that have joined forces to show that there are sensible actors who take responsibility – and to change the legislation.

Harnessing energy

The collaboration is called 2 MEND-IX and consists of Umeå Energi, Söderenergi, Mälarenergi and Tekniska verken. Work began three years ago.

"Ideally, you want all waste to be reused, everything should really be able to get a new life. But with much of the waste today, there is nothing to do in the end but burn it. And we do district heating companies in a good way. We take advantage of the energy that is in the waste in our controlled plants," says Mårten Henriksson.

The waste is sent into ovens at 700 degrees, providing thermal and complete combustion. In the smoke ducts that transport away the smoke, there is advanced purification that removes chemicals and heavy metals, for example.

"We clean the entire system and that's what our customers pay us for. In Umeå alone, almost 50,000 tonnes of waste are produced every year. We have to deal with that waste – and I don't think umeå residents want it to end up in a field or in the sea," says Mårten Henriksson.

Waste will increase by 70 percent

He is convinced that the waste issue will grow in the coming years and not only in Sweden but globally. More and more countries in the world are getting a better economy, which means that the need for goods increases – which in turn creates more waste.

"It is said that the amount of waste will increase by 70% by 2050 in the world, and it will be taken care of. We must be able to do so in a circular way. Only now during the pandemic have we seen an increase in the amount of waste, which is due to an increase in online shopping. The proportion of packaging and shipping parts has grown enormously," says Mårten Henriksson.

He mentions that Umeå Energi often finds heavy metals and chemical substances in its ashes from district heating plants, which should not be allowed in Europe.

"Many people order goods from Asia today, for example from China, and substances that Europe banned a long time ago are still allowed there. For example, they are still allowed to have heavy metals in plastics. If the waste is dumped in nature instead of being burned and purified, most people will understand that the hazardous substances leak into the forest and soil," says Mårten Henriksson.

Working out a verifiable

2 MEND-IX has great ambitions and hopes to show organizations as well as government agencies and legislators how important the issue is. Among other things, a verification is currently being developed, which will show the customer that the actor is serious.

"The verifiable document should inspire confidence and create transparency and traceability. The customer should be able to track back what we have done with the waste. This is one of the things that we have accomplished together in 2 MEND-IX," says Mårten Henriksson.

On Friday 5 March, a debate article, authored by the representatives of all actors within 2 MEND-IX, was published on DN Debatt. Read the debate article here.

"We have the resources to change"

"We have the resources to influence the future in a positive direction – and we must take that opportunity! This is the view of Johanna Hallin, sustainability and communication expert, who lectured on overall sustainability and system perspectives in practice.

Johanna Hallin is currently CEO of Pondus Kommunikation and has for 20 years worked with sustainability and business development. Her areas of expertise are human rights, sustainability and global development, but in recent years she has increasingly focused on how companies can be engines of positive change.

"Working with business is a fantastic way to get quick feedback from stakeholders. It takes a high level of responsiveness as a company to invest in overall sustainability and i think it is important that you think about the customer's perspective," says Johanna Hallin.

Outgoing and persistent

Recently she held a seminar on behalf of Viable Business Hub, which attracted participants from all over Sweden. There, she highlighted both opportunities and challenges facing business leaders in terms of sustainability. Johanna Hallin believes that by thinking outwardly, sustainably and communicatively, we can create opportunities for the most effective learning together with the company's customers and other stakeholders

"We must strive to take in the entire ecosystem within which the company operates. It's important, even though it will challenge us," she says.

Work from different perspectives

Sustainability work in everyday life requires activity from two sides, according to Hallin. On the one hand, it is about iterative changes in the business, that is, constant improvements based on what we know today. And partly about strategic work with insights into what is to come – reflection and exploration about the big trends that will affect the company, even if today we do not know exactly how.

"The best opportunity for us to navigate ahead is to anchor the system perspective in the company. It's about understanding and taking into account how our decisions affect the outside world and vice versa," says Johanna Hallin.

Crises affecting

Over the past year, several global crises have highlighted the urgency of humanity to act. Climate crisis and major challenges for democracy, together with the ongoing pandemic and the major public health crisis that it has brought, have had a real impact on both individuals and companies around the world.

"Does it take a crisis for us to change our minds? one of the participants in the lecture wondered.

Yes and no. It is clear that we humans are not really willing to make major changes even though we know we should. The climate crisis is a clear example of this. But I think what is needed is a strengthened capacity for transformation, says Johanna Hallin and continues:

"Transformation can feel like a crisis for us as individuals. We need to train, as individuals and as groups to live with the discomfort that change can bring – and still continue to strive. In the bargain, we might get better at dealing with crises as well.

The holistic approach is needed

Balancing high ambition forward with great humility in the face of what we have with us in our luggage is a task for leaders, Hallin says. During the seminar this is also reflected in an final comment from Linda Nyström, CEO of the Forest Technical Cluster, which is also a parnter in Viable Business Hub.

"We see a duality among our member companies, a tug-of-war between refining and preserving what is in forestry today and embracing innovation and new technology. The perspective of overall sustainability is inspiring for a way forward where we take the power of both," she says.

Sustainability mapping in Umeå

What is the current situation for sustainability and climate impact in the Umeå region? This is one of the things that the Project Sustainable Industrial Environments of the future will look at over the next few months.

The survey aims to get a picture of xxx and yyy, and includes an analysis of the system that our industrial companies are part of. Among other things, we will look at how carbon dioxide emissions look in the Umeå region and how we can measure up to other parts of Sweden and Europe when it comes to social progress, innovation and sustainability, for example.

The system analysis is carried out to provide an understanding of the current situation, identify which areas are most important to work on, and later be able to see and compare the impact the joint sustainability initiative has had on the system in a few years. How have we collectively created sustainable change and improvement?

In our work, we collaborate with ClimateView,the Umeå-based company that has created the world's first tool designed to help cities plan, understand and visualize the changes necessary to address the climate crisis.

The system analysis shall take place in parallel with the various joint sustainability projects.

ABB ranked as one of the world's most sustainable companies

ABB has been ranked 30th on the Wall Street Journal's list of the 100 most sustainably managed companies in the world. The list has been produced by the magazine's environmental, social and community analysts, who together have assessed more than 5,500 listed companies. The assessment is based on metrics in areas such as business model and innovation, social issues, product issues, personnel and workplace issues and the environment. In the rankings, the view of sustainability is broad and it is management's ability to create value for shareholders in the long term that has been assessed. Tops the list do Sony.

Forest industry gathers strength for greater equality

The forestry sector should be an attractive workplace for all. This is the view of the Forest Technical Cluster, which recently conducted a gender audit and signed a letter of intent together with the Forest County of Västerbotten to act for future gender equality.

Gender equality work has been a fundamental part of the Forest Technical Cluster since its formation in 2010. During the first years the focus was on creating insight, today more emphasis is placed on allowing gender equality to take place early in the processes.

During the autumn of 2020, the Forest Technical Cluster conducted a gender equality audit, together with several other forest actors in the county, as part of the County Administrative Board's work for an equal forest sector. It is the first gender audit to be carried out and it will follow up on an earlier letter of intent that the forest actors will work individually and together for future gender equality.

Inclusion should be self-evident

"By 2030, the forest industry will be attractive and accessible to all, the industry has realised that diversity creates pleasant and good workplaces. Then I want to see that women and men have equal opportunities to step into leadership positions as managers and board representatives," says Linda Nyström, CEO of the Forest Technology Cluster.

"It should be obvious that a working group is composed of representation and inclusion, but also that the product that is created should be able to be used by all people. Gender equality should not stay in individual projects or groupings, it should permeate everything from the conversations in the coffee room to the products that are manufactured and to which customer the product is created for.

At a seminar on 11 November, participants in the gender audit presented what they had seen in their own organizations and how to work with gender equality going forward. Participants from Viable Business Hub were Komatsu Forest and the Forest Engineering Cluster. During the seminar, Linda Nyström presented the gender equality work of the Forest Technical Cluster over the past decade.

"What we have to work most on are cultures and attitudes. We want both young women and men to see the entire forest sector as an attractive labour market," she says.

Participation throughout the organization

Linda Nyström believes that the management of an organization must take the lead and show initiatives, but also that every part of the company must be involved in gender equality work in order to achieve long-term and comprehensive development on several levels.

"It is a critical success factor to spread insight and understanding at all levels of the business.

Over the years, the Forest Technical Cluster has participated in several projects, created films, lectured and inspired other organizations to the next stage in their work on gender equality.

"We have come a long way, but we still have a lot to do. It is important that everyone steps up so that we can attract young people to the industry. It should be remembered that little is better than nothing at all. Do not allow gender equality work to become a frighteningly large project to inject into the future when resources are scarce. Instead, start in the small and switch up," says Linda Nyström.

Here you can read more about the gender audit: