Allskogsservice, based in Skärblacka approximately 200km south of Stockholm, is a Swedish company specialising in providing forestry services, such as planting trees and maintaining woodland areas. Spring and autumn are the main seasons of operation - spring means planting spruce and pine saplings, while in autumn the work revolves around cleaning the woods, cutting branches and spraying trees to protect them from insects. Needless to say, spring and autumn can get very busy!
For each of the two seasons Allskogsservice requires a workforce of some 20 persons but the recruitment of interested and qualified staff has proved to be rather difficult in Sweden. ‘The Swedish youth show little interest in forestry,’ explains Olle Josefsson, co-founder of Allskogsservice.
This is why Olle started searching for qualified staff abroad. In early 2009 he participated in a workshop organised by the Swedish public employment services, Arbetsförmedlingen, and the Federation of Swedish Forestry and Agricultural Employers (SLA). There, Olle learned about EURES and the possibility of using its services to recruit staff from abroad.
Olle had previously had very positive experiences with workers from Lithuania, so he decided to fill the gaps in his team with workers from the Baltic country. After the workshop, Olle got in touch with his EURES Adviser Pirjo Väänänen in Linköping and explained his case. Pirjo, in turn, liaised with her colleague Loreta Zdaniauskienė, EURES Adviser in Tauragė (Lithuania), and organised for Olle to participate in a EURES job fair.
‘I was actually surprised how quick and easy everything went once I had contacted Pirjo’, recalls Olle. ‘EURES advertised the openings I had at Allskogsservice on their website. Loreta helped translating the job description into Lithuanian and invited me to come to Lithuania for a job fair. When I arrived at the job fair, Loreta had already pre-selected a number of CVs and the only thing that was left to do was to conduct the interviews with the pre-selected candidates. Out of two dozen candidates I eventually hired nine to work for me in April’.
Olle ended up having a workforce of 22 for his spring season and organised his staff in three different teams. Because his company operates in three different geographical areas, Olle cannot be with all the teams at all times. As a consequence, he needs well-trained staff he can rely on.
‘Allskogsservice has a reputation of providing their services at very high standards. So, when I hire my new staff I need to make sure that they already have a good knowledge of silviculture. What is more, I provide additional training for all new staff at the beginning of each season, especially if they come from abroad. There are some differences in forestry across the geographical areas, which have to be taken into account. In Sweden, for instance, some forests have grown on rocks, which makes planting saplings more difficult than on a soft ground like in the Baltics, ’ explains Olle.
Despite a relatively high proportion of new staff, Olle was highly positive about this year’s spring season: ‘In each team I mixed new staff with the more experienced workers to be sure they all learn from each other. Overall, I am very satisfied with the result. Each of my teams was somewhere around five to ten workers, which made us very efficient. What is more, the atmosphere within the teams was great.’
For the upcoming autumn season, Olle expects that a high proportion of his newly hired workers will come back to work for him, although he knows that some of them may have other commitments. ‘Of course we hope to see most of them again in the autumn. But even if I have to hire new staff, I now know that I can count on the help of Pirjo and Loreta. They have really done a great job and I want to thank them and all other EURES staff for their fantastic support.’