Nb: this is a summary of an article originally published by Svenska Dagbladet on December 30th 2021. You can find the full article here.
One employer hires hundreds of developers in Ukraine. Another provides twelve weeks of education to otherwise unqualified prospects and then employs them. Swedish companies are desperate for IT competence. “The jobs exist, the challenge is finding something you really like,” says programmer Fredrik Björeman.
For anyone clicking through a job-hunting website the trend is obvious: coding and programming represent a major talent gap. Those who make sure the government’s digital systems function, crack the code behind the next unicorn and build the next big thing in Sweden’s massive gaming market.
Johan Liljelund isn’t surprised. For two decades he has faced the shortage of IT talent in Sweden. And in his view, it’s only getting worse.
“Twenty years ago it was much easier to find people, and the relationship between skill and salary was completely different. Today you have to pay an extraordinarily high rate even for a developer who isn’t that talented.”
Liljelund is a board member at Swedish Software, an organisation for companies that own and develop software. He’s also the CTO and EVP at the adtech company DanAds. The company has around 150 employees and the head office is based in Stockholm.
Much of the company’s coding is done remotely. Today, DanAds contracts around 110 developers in Ukraine on a full-time basis.
“In Sweden it can take up to four months to find a developer. The former Soviet states have good, well-educated people and they are supported by the government which sees IT as a vital part of the country’s economy,” says Johan Liljelund.
He emphasises that it’s not a question of driving down wages, but rather that it’s not possible to find the right competence within Sweden. Furthermore, Johan is careful to give the developers in Ukraine a good deal.
“We want them to have a situation as close to the work life in Sweden as possible, for example with parental leave.”
The situation isn’t unique to Sweden – Johan has heard from industry colleagues in the US who also struggle to find talent. “It’s the same thing across the West. In Sweden we started hiring people in Poland and the Baltics, now we’re in Ukraine but even India and Vietnam are getting popular.”