Internships in greenhouses combined with a number of individualized development initiatives will help people in exclusion into the labor market. That is the purpose of Boden’s municipality’s project Växtzon infinite.
The Växtzon infinity project will develop the skills of people from Boden who have difficulty finding or keeping a job and lift them closer to the labor market. This is done by developing structures, collaborations and working methods within the municipality and with the local business community. Northern Sweden is facing major challenges in the supply of skills and this project can enable more of the people who already live here to be equipped to take a place in the labor market.
What makes this competence supply project unique is the project is largely carried out in a new greenhouse that is heated by waste heat from a data server hall, which enables the cultivation of locally produced food even during the winter. The greenhouse is built and operated in collaboration between Boden Municipality, Boden Business Agency (BUAB), Luleå University of Technology, RISE, Sture Nordmark and other private actors. It will be partly a showroom for research, new technology and innovative cultivation methods, but also a place for competence development for Växtzon infinite participants.
The project combines internships, study and career guidance, knowledge acquisition and other competence development initiatives, all adapted to the individual’s needs. It is based on the key competencies identified by the EU and builds an individual-adapted competence development based on that. The participants also have regular contact with a labor market consultant whose function is to coordinate the journey towards intermediate goals and objectives. Studies show that several combined initiatives where at least one focuses on work is a success factor. The municipality of Boden is now affiliated to the Coordinating Association of Southern Norrbotten, which enables further efforts in collaboration with the Swedish Public Employment Service, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and the Norrbotten Region.
Read more: Coordinating Association Södra Norrbotten
Utilize untapped potential
There is already a shortage of skills in Boden and the nearby region in many industries. When large company establishments come here, the need for skills is expected to increase further. Therefore, according to the municipality of Boden, it is important to take advantage of the entire potential of the workforce by creating adaptable workplaces that take into account the differences of individuals.
The goal of the Infinite Growth Zone project is to take advantage of all kinds of resources, both human and economic, increase the degree of self-sufficiency and make visible the socio-economic effects of this. It will reduce exclusion, improve quality of life, reduce societal costs and create a large labor supply that secures employers’ skills supply and regional growth. Växtzon endless works to enable the start of long-term sustainable social enterprises where people together can contribute to society through work based on their own conditions.
Read more: What is social entrepreneurship? – The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth
Increased degree of self-sufficiency
The greenhouse is located on Boden Plug and Play, which can be described as a business park or industrial area where new technology and innovation are tested on a small scale, with the ambition of scaling up projects elsewhere.
The hope is that in the long run it will be possible to switch up greenhouse cultivation on a large scale, in connection with H2 Green Steel’s planned activities at Boden Industrial Park, and that the participants who attend Växtzon’s endless cultivation courses will be employable there. There is today no culture or tradition of large-scale greenhouse cultivation in Boden and therefore this competence development is seen as an important addition to the business community.
In Boden and Norrbotten, there is a relatively low degree of self-sufficiency in food, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables, and there are common regional goals to increase the degree of self-sufficiency. Here, large-scale greenhouse cultivation in Boden can be an important piece of the puzzle.
The project Plant Zone Infinite has 114 participant places and is aimed at people …
- At the age of 16-20 years who have chosen to finish or not start high school
- With maintenance support, aged 20-64 years
- In long-term unemployment
- In long-term sick leave
- With a foreign background
The social fund project will be completed by the end of August 2022, but the activities will continue and become an integral part of Boden municipality’s competence development initiatives.
The endless growth zone is run by the municipality of Boden and collaborates with several different actors to achieve the greatest effect for both the participants and the local business community. The project is funded by the municipality of Boden and the European Social Fund, with the aim of increasing transitions from unemployment and exclusion to work or study.
Read more about the Swedish ESF Council and social fund projects here: Swedish ESF Council
Helena Löfgren , labor market consultant, Jobbcenter, Boden municipality, e-mail: hele firstname.lastname@example.org
Håkan Nordin , business developer, Boden Business Agency, email@example.com.