Sweden is celebrated as a world leader of digital innovation, yet it is estimated that Sweden’s tech sector could see a deficit of 70,000 informational technology specialists by 2022. How is Beetroot Academy addressing the skills gap in IT?
Beetroot was founded in Ukraine in 2012 by two serial entrepreneurs. The Swedish Founders, Andreas Flodström and Gustav Henman, wanted to address the IT sector gap in the Ukrainian job market. Beetroot specializes in building teams of developers and designers for companies around the world including Tre, Skanska, Webforum, and Inspera. When an economic crisis hit Ukraine in 2014 and sparked protests throughout the nation, the Founders decided to take their industry experience and channel it into something which could create a more positive social and economic impact in society.
This desire gave rise to Beetroot Academy – an initiative to help people discover careers in tech, to drive economic and societal development, and to enable greater upward social mobility. Through the intensive courses on offer, Beetroot Academy helps to develop IT skills such as software development, web design and data management for those seeking to move into the tech industry.
Following its success in Ukraine, Beetroot Academy has expanded into the Swedish market this Spring with the launch of its first school in Stockholm. In Malmö, a partnership with Pink Programming resulted in Pink Web Dev, a web development course for women and non-binaries. This successful partnership recently celebrated the first cohort of Pink Web Dev graduates, paving the way for greater gender diversity in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
To keep up with Sweden’s thriving startup scene that is renowned for digital innovation, companies seek out highly skilled professionals with IT expertise and advanced digital skills. Employers have significant recruitment needs, whereby knowledge requirements are high on the agenda when entering the Swedish labor market. Industries across the board are becoming increasingly digitized and reliant on specialist skills. With this growing market comes a greater demand for employees with IT qualifications and breadth of theoretical and practical experience. Yet there still remains a gap in the market of those who are able to design, create and implement IT services. New talent, knowledge, and expertise in the field of IT continue to be sought after, as companies invest more in this digital age.
How is Beetroot Academy contributing to the Swedish IT industry?
Beetroot Academy strives to address the gap in the market by offering IT courses and workshops such as coding, design and other related IT related topics. In response to COVID-19 and the national recommendations around social distancing, Beetroot Academy has adapted their teaching methods accordingly by transferring their courses to an online platform and offering free webinars. Impact Hub Stockholm Member, Natalia Fedorova, outlines her personal goal at Beetroot Academy: “My mission is to encourage people to start learning IT and start a thriving IT career.”
In her role as Regional Coordinator, Natalia has identified three key challenges that Beetroot Academy strives to address: high unemployment among immigrants, general shortage of IT professionals, and the need for female programmers. Immigrants entering the Swedish labor market are more likely to have a limited experience of Swedish working life, and may face additional challenges due to language barriers, making it harder to know where and how to start their career in IT. Natalia highlights the expansive nature of the tech sector and how it consists of diverse groups of people, each with different outlooks and skillsets: “It might be people who are working in or seeking to work in the industry and want to improve their IT skills… they might have knowledge of IT already and may be looking for a change in career path, or those who feel insecure with their job future and want to develop their skills”.
While Beetroot Academy encourages and supports those who are interested in transitioning to a career in tech, not everyone has a clear plan, and some use their services as a launchpad for a future in IT. And despite Stockholm being the tech start-up capital of Europe, Sweden is struggling with a shortage of tech professionals. The gap in tech talent is a result of rapid digitalization fast outpacing the required training for employees where more and more jobs require IT skills and digital proficiency, as well as Sweden’s labor market and immigration policies that are slow to adapt to meet industry needs. Natalia points out that a proportion of applications she receives for Beetroot Academy’s courses consist of people feeling outdated and looking to update their IT skills, through programming or UI design, to complement their existing knowledge. With more people acquiring IT skills, Beetroot Academy promotes different opportunities within the tech sector and equips professionals with the required skills and expertise to stand out within the Swedish market. As Natalia succinctly explains: “In IT, experience is everything”.
In Malmö, where women and non-binaries celebrate their graduation from Pink Web Dev, Beetroot Academy has sought to encourage greater gender diversity in the male-dominated tech sector. The gender gap persists in IT; in digital and advanced skills such as programming, the gender gap is actually wider among advanced economies in Western Europe such as Sweden, despite maintaining a reputation for strong gender equality and gender mainstreaming. Opportunities to advance gender diversity in the tech sector has been a driving force for Beetroot Academy, positioning SDG #5 Gender Equality and SDG #10 Reduced Inequalities at the center of their business strategy. In promoting greater diversity in the tech sector, organizations like Beetroot Academy strive to minimize Sweden’s IT skills gap by updating existing knowledge for professionals already working in the field, and by offering education for those who aspire to further develop their careers in tech.
Looking to join the tech industry and start your career in IT?
Are you interested in an opportunity to share your expert knowledge?
Beetroot Academy is recruiting talented educators, freelancers and experts in the field of IT. Visit www.beetrootacademy.se for more information on the courses offered and how to get involved. For more information please contact Natalia Fedorova directly at: [email protected]
Caitlin Metcalfe-Bliss is a Community Host at Impact Hub Stockholm. With an interest in migration and social change, she is interested in exploring how social enterprises encourage integration and inclusion for newly arrived migrants.