Did you know that you can find electronics from Inission Løkken AS in everything from underwater installations at the bottom of the sea to space craft in outer space? This is probably just some of what you did not know about the innovative enterprise that is doing exceptionally well in a tough international market.
Industrial history has been made in Løkken for over three hundred years. Mining has in many ways shaped the small rural community, and although the job of extracting the ore out of the mine shafts is long gone, that does not mean that the industrial community is gone. On the contrary! One of the companies that has taken up this proud heritage is Inission. The enterprise, which from 1990 until 2018 was called Simpro, currently manufactures advanced electronic solutions for both Norwegian and international business customers.
How is it even possible to run a high-tech enterprise in Løkken, Trøndelag? How do they manage to recruit skilled employees? What will it take for it to continue to be possible to run a knowledge-based enterprise in a location far removed from what many would consider central areas? We had a little chat with Managing Director Erik Dragset to find out his thoughts on this.
Changes bring challenges
“As for most companies, a high degree of predictability and known framework conditions are the most important prerequisites for us – at various levels. We find ourselves in an uncertain global situation, characterised by failing production in the components industry. We certainly feel it. Many of the small suppliers have been acquired by the larger ones, which has led to the disappearance of additional capacity in the market. We are also vulnerable when national framework conditions change in the wrong direction. In recent years, we have been accustomed to predictable government budgets, but now we are experiencing changes in significant areas, which creates pressure on both the general cost level and wages. We are waiting to see if it is a temporary phenomenon or a new trend”, says Erik.
In-house trade certificates
At the local level, the biggest challenge is the recruitment of skilled workers.
– How do you manage to recruit employees with the necessary skills, it certainly sounds like those who wish to work for you need to be highly skilled?
“The answer to the last question is certainly yes. People need to be skilled, and we have a highly skilled workforce, who are also very happy according to our employee surveys. With us, we need both skilled operators in the factory and engineers with special expertise, particularly in electronics and logistics. In addition, we need to recruit skilled employees in finance, sales and marketing. To achieve this, we have to work with different strategies.
For the skilled worker positions, we have until now mainly been able to recruit locally in Orkland and from the neighbouring municipalities. We want to continue with that. We have a goal that all our operators should have trade certificates. If they do not have it when they start, we make sure to provide them with it through necessary training in the enterprise.”
Cooperation is needed
Erik says that the enterprise has already established a good collaboration with the schools in Meldal, where they visit the 10th grade classes and inform of job and career opportunities in the enterprise. They now want to extend this offer to all schools in Orkland.
“We would very much like to invite the students here to the enterprise so that they can see what we are doing, so we have had some preliminary conversations with the municipality to look at the possibility of doing so. Currently, we have 76 employees, but we are growing. Although we will remove some of the growth through automation, we will have around 100 employees here in Løkken over the next two years. In order to achieve this, we depend on good and close cooperation with the municipality, business association and training office”, says Erik.
Recruitment in student environments
To recruit skilled engineers, the enterprise has other strategies.
“In order to survive in this industry, we must succeed in recruiting highly skilled individuals, so it is of course important to work with young people and get in at an early stage and show them the possibilities. We work closely with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(NTNU) in connection with student projects, including through the annual project Revolve NTNU, where we supply all electronics for the development of a formula car that participates in Formula Student, which is held every summer. It is crucial for us to enter into dialogue with students early on and be able to offer them a job directly after completing their studies.
The fact that the enterprise became part of the Swedish Inission Group in 2018 has given the Løkken enterprise several advantages, according to Erik. The Swedish-owned group with factories in Sweden, Finland and Estonia has given the Løkken enterprise more weight in the market. Erik also points out that the employees benefit from the group’s own training body, Inission Academy, where they have the opportunity to replenish and share skills.
“The group has more than 500 employees and there is no doubt that we in Løkken are the technological spearhead among the subsidiaries”.
He says that the Løkken enterprise is now putting in internal resources to develop its own profile on social media in order to make itself more attractive and visible in the market, something they have already noticed when they advertise vacancies.
Presenting the whole package
Moreover, Erik has thoughts about what the municipality and the business sector can contribute jointly to in order to attract skilled workers and ensure that people perhaps also choose to move here.
“It is fundamental that the municipality has good basic services. Good kindergartens with business-friendly enrolment schemes and schools with a good learning environment are absolutely necessary. I think we have that in Orkland. We also have varied cultural and sports offers and varied housing options. Perhaps we should be better at making it clear that we likely have work for two, and show that we have much more to offer than just work? Perhaps we can present a whole package that might be interesting for newcomers to learn about? Our experience is that employees who live here and have a social life locally develop a stronger sense of belonging to both the enterprise and the municipality. As a municipality, we have also had little success in getting start-up enterprises with a background from NTNU and SINTEF to establish themselves here. In this regard, we still have untapped potential, which could also have ripple effects and result in increased settlement”.
Use Eggen’s theory
Erik Dragset finds it a little strange that we in Orkland have not adopted Nils Arne Eggen’s good foot theory to a greater extent. He believes the theory is highly applicable, and it is so easy to understand.
“If we in Orkland can get even better at playing each other better, I think even more people will discover that this is a good municipality to live and work in. By using this philosophy in several contexts, we can jointly lift the business sector, the municipality and the local community to new heights – Orkland will become both the number one business municipality and housing municipality. Maybe everyone who moves to Orkland should receive the Good Foot book when they become residents of Orkland?”