Future of Work — Stockholm
Sweden’s escalating digital skills shortage was the focus of discussion among business and education leaders following last week’s Future of Work event in Stockholm’s World Trade Centre which was hosted by the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Sweden . The Almega Report by the Swedish IT & Telecom Industries’ Skills Council forecasts 63,000 unfilled digital roles in Sweden by 2020, rising to 70,000 by 2022, accounting for 4% of the European digital skills shortage. Consensus around tackling this deficit focused on three pivotal strategies, reskilling the existing workforce, recruiting and retaining talent.
“Finding developers with relevant skills has been and is our number one growth blocker and we see huge potential in the Code Institute model.” Fredrik Linnander, CEO, Online Partners AB, Stockholm
Accelerated Reskilling In the Swedish Workforce
Reskilling existing talent through a programme of accelerated learning is seen as a critical first step in bridging the digital gap. Companies recognise that the traditional four-year computer science degree programme cannot produce sufficient skilled graduates (currently, there are fewer than 5k graduates per year across natural science, computer science and maths) to fulfil the 63k tech roles that are currently unfilled, and reliance on this model is compounding the problem.
Accelerated courses that reskill or upskill non-technical employees become software developers and coders within a realistic timeframe are now being deployed in banking, telecoms, fintech, edtech and other tech-sector businesses to provide the human capital solution.
As Jim Cassidy, CEO of Code Institute explains: “Businesses understand that university system’s four-year cycle simply can’t keep pace with the demand for digitally skilled workers. Technology is now businesses’ strongest force for growth and it’s driving demand for IT specialists everywhere. Reskilling the non-technical workforce from within, via accelerated learning programmes, provides a swift, efficient solution.
“Our model uses a free 5-step challenge to identify suitable candidates within the workforce. This enables companies to select those with the greatest aptitude and motivation to reskill. Over the course of 90-days, a robust, credit-rated programme delivers technically competent coders, developers and analysts within the existing business framework. Retraining from within the organisation ensure continuity in terms of culture, business intelligence and is a cost-efficient solution.”
Agility in a fast-changing technical landscape is critical to facilitate product development, business growth and innovation. The lack of relevant digital expertise poses an economic threat at a local, national and international level for businesses and is a disincentive towards inward investment. The challenges are compounded by international competition for this talent. Currently, in Sweden, 6.3% of the workforce is employed in the digital sector, 308,100 people so a 70,000 skills shortage equates to 23% of the existing digital workforce. The shortfall is found in most competence areas but, in terms of the numbers working in them, programming and systems architecture dominates. On the ground in Sweden, companies such as Online Partners are already experiencing the impact according to founder Fredrik Linnander “Finding developers with relevant skills has been and is our number one growth blocker and we see huge potential in the Code Institute model.”
The figures below from the Almega Report project the situation for 2020.
Top Five Unfilled Tech Roles in Sweden 2020
Solving the shortage in Sweden, like many countries around the world, requires breaking with outdated education models, embracing new models of learning which include regular reskilling and upskilling to remain relevant. The situation for economies, governments, businesses and workers alike is best summed up in the words of Albert Einstein, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”.
Attracting Top Talent in Sweden
Recruiting and retaining talent has hidden challenges as Shaun O’Shea, Technology Recruitment Specialist at Sigmar Recruitment revealed. His insights into these challenges show what lies at the heart of the rapid churn in software developers that many organisations experiences. Currently, there are 3,173 Java developers employed in Stockholm, however, last year 45% of these changed jobs. With an average tenure of just 1.3 years, the businesses which rely on these skills are really struggling to retain this talent, sustain project momentum and continuity. This, in turn, impacts delivery deadlines and ultimately profitability. The situation is compounded by the shortage of skilled developers, a highly competitive landscape and the lead time from advertising to hiring and the following onboarding process. It’s not a process that businesses can sustain on a 15-month cycle.
So, what is behind the move? What’s driving talent away? Interestingly, it’s not what most of us expect — money. Only 5% of movers were doing so to earn more; a massive 35% were motivated to move because they didn’t feel personally valued in their role; 27% wanted more adventure, 29% wanted greater flexibility and 11% chose to move as they were unhappy with the technology roadmap. This information should cause companies who are serious about retaining talent to give serious consideration to how they meet the needs and expectations of employees. A need to feel valued, acknowledgement of their work and a greater level of flexibility are the true deal makers or deal breakers in this volatile sector.
Gratitude and Retention
Retaining talent is the wheelhouse of Niamh Graham, VP, Global HR of Workhuman whose social recognition platform is used to promote cross-organisational acknowledgement of employees’ achievements, milestones and work contributions.
Their social recognition model promotes and reinforces an organisations culture and values and helps businesses move from an annual review of employees’ model to a continuous performance management platform.
Designed to foster a culture of mutual appreciation and respect, the Workhuman ethos is to create a positive employee experience based on: Meaningful work; Empowerment and voice; Feedback, recognition and growth; Co-worker relationships; and Organisational trust. These combined elements are reflected in a system that’s visible and inclusive to all employees, broadcasts and rewards positive behaviours and create’s a community.
Ultimately, for business what’s really impressive is the impact on retention of employees, companies that invest 1% or more of payroll on recognition are nearly twice as likely to retain talent. This is evident from the retention upswing experienced by companies such as Cisco as Niamh attests: “ “Regular recognition is far more powerful than a one-time bonus. Cisco invests 1% of payroll in their recognition program, and from the first year, had 85%-plus employee participation. They’ve had over 1.2 million moments of gratitude, and nearly 50% of it is peer-to-peer. Through its partnership with Workhuman over the past five years, Cisco has found the more recognition you give, the greater the return in employee engagement and retention. The results are clear – an investment in recognition is an investment in retention.”