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Student Survey 2024 | Sweden

By Universum, 2024-03-21

For the 36th consecutive year, Universum has surveyed which companies and organizations Swedish students prefer to work for, and what qualities they value in a future employer. Several previous favorite workplaces remain at the top, while interest in the FinTech sector is declining. The survey also indicates an increased interest in working for Sweden's security sector. Additionally, a widespread desire for secure employment with high salaries, and increased disparities between male and female salary expectations remain at the top.

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The gender wage gap continues to widen, while interest in Sweden's security grows

About Universum's Student Survey

The survey is Sweden's most comprehensive student survey, with over 23,000 respondents from 34 different colleges and universities in Sweden this year alone. Students have answered questions about the qualities they prioritize in future employment and, above all, who the dream employer is. Universum's surveys are answered annually by over 1.5 million talents in 65 markets worldwide - providing us with a unique knowledge base and understanding of what talent seek and expect from their employers.

Security above all

War, recession, and worsened security conditions prevail. Students who have not yet recovered from the pandemic are soon entering a tough job market. What do they prioritize? Security, of course. Students demand high salaries, secure employment, and good references for future jobs. The trait of "challenging work" has declined in importance since 2019 and continues to do so this year. In addition to caring about their personal security, the trend also reflects in where students prefer to work. Companies and organizations promoting the country's security, such as the Swedish Armed Forces, the Security Police, and Saab Defence & Security, are gaining popularity.

The trend of the declining attractiveness of the start-up dream in favor of stability and security is a persistent trend that companies are wise to address to secure future competence. What's new is that we see a sense of responsibility among students for Sweden's security; they seem to recognize the importance of involvement and want to contribute.
Emil Adén
Country Manager Sweden, Universum

Remote work remains popular

According to this year's survey, more students than ever are interested in working from home, specifically 71 percent. This is an increase of five percentage points since 2023. At the same time, an equal number believe that the possibility of remote work is not decisive because, although it has its advantages, it also contributes to some uncertainty. One-third of respondents are afraid of missing promotions, and an equal number are concerned that those who work on-site are favored. These concerns align with students' expressed longing for both economic and social security.

Although remote work and flexibility still attract, we see that today's youth perform best when they feel secure. Here, many employers can benefit from becoming better at creating an office environment that makes all employees want to be in the office during the day," says Emil Adén.


Inflation is reflected in the expected starting salary, which has increased by 2 percent since last year. However, there is still a difference between the genders, and it is increasing. Female talent expect 1.5 percent more than last year, while male talent expect 3 percent higher starting salaries. This results in an 8 percent difference between male and female expected salaries, the highest figure since 2018. In monetary terms, this translates to a difference of almost 40,000 SEK per year.

This is a significant problem, and it is disheartening that we have not actually made more progress. The problem is that a lower starting salary often persists over the years because salary increases are mostly given in percentages. This means that those who start on a lower salary never catch up, and the gaps widen," says Emil Adén.

Tech industry influx

Recent layoffs among major tech companies do not go unnoticed. IT students prioritizing secure employment have increased by 5 percentage points since 2023. Large and prestigious consulting firms and banks are the most popular employers for students in business, and they are becoming even more popular as interest in the FinTech sector wanes.

Ranking - where most students want to work

In the survey, students annually rank their dream workplaces. Spotify and Google are securely at the top for those studying business, IT, and engineering. Volvo Cars surpasses Google for engineering students, and Volvo Group remains highly attractive as a workplace for both civil and industrial engineers. Medical students see the Karolinska Institute, Karolinska University Hospital, and the Stockholm Region as some of the most attractive workplaces.

High peaks and deep valleys

Since last year, the top three lists are practically unchanged, with banks, tech companies, the automotive industry, and pharmaceutical companies as the winning industries. But some changes can be seen. Real estate agency Fastighetsförmedlingen has made an unusual journey in popularity and is number one for a full 40 percent of real estate students, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2023. Astra Zeneca takes first place from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency among natural science students. For law students, interest in the Swedish courts has cooled, and Mannheimer Swartling and the Public Prosecution Service take the top two spots.

Companies that have risen in the ranking

  • Sony rises a full 29 places among engineering students.

  • McKinsey & Company rises seven places among economics students.

  • The Swedish Armed Forces rise five places among engineering students.

  • Saab Defence & Security jumps up six places among engineering students.

Companies that have fallen in the ranking

  • Avanza has dropped 8 places among business students.

  • The Prison and Probation Service & Volvo Group have both dropped 7 places among law students.

  • IKEA has dropped 6 places for engineering students.

  • Google has dropped 7 places for humanities students.

  • The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has dropped 8 places for natural science students.

Discover the Future of Workplaces

Uncover groundbreaking insights on career aspirations and the evolving workplace. Universum’s Student Survey goes beyond the surface, offering a deep dive into wage disparities, gender perspectives, and the secrets of the most attractive workplaces.
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About Universum

Universum is a research company, specialized and world-leading in Employer Branding. Universum has 36 years of valuable experience in employer branding and is pioneers in the field. Universum is established in over 50 markets worldwide, with physical presence in 20 countries. Annually, Universum collaborates with 1,420 clients, including the majority of Fortune 500 companies, to attract and retain optimal employees. We collaborate with 1,000 universities and partners to compile surveys on career expectations and employer preferences.

For questions or interview requests, please contact:

Emil Adén

Country Manager Sweden emil.aden@universumglobal.com

Katarina Marais

Head of Enterprise Marketing katarina.marais@universumglobal.com
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