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The Scandinavian IT Dilemma

While it’s a joint cheer for the thriving startup scene in Scandinavia, these countries are facing a hard time scooping up the right talent for their innovative endeavours. Because solutions are scarce, we are bound to explore subsidiary alternatives to existing models.

Scandinavia and the missing developer

In Scandinavia, we are all too familiar with the lack of engineers and the way it tends to quell innovation and progress. At the current rate, the Nordic countries on average train 5000 engineers per year, a number that pales compared to the rest of the world. To make matters worse, Ingeniørforeningen IDA predicts a shortage of 13.500 engineers in Denmark by 2025. In Sweden, the number is 60.000 by 2020. In Norway, 10.000 are missing by 2030. If we consider the respective sizes of the countries, the trends are revealingly aligned.

In the larger context of the Scandinavian problem, the European Commission has estimated that Europe will be 1 million developers short by 2020. Given the digital ambitions of the continent, the future of software looks bleak to say the least.

While the Danish government has promised to expand the intake of engineers in universities, experience and strong skill sets are difficult for entrepreneurs to artificially infuse, not to mention incredibly expensive. Moreover, the virtual absence of niche skills render the depth of our pockets entirely irrelevant. The Swedish public employment service Arbetsförmedlingen explains that the gap between government’s proposals and employers’ requirements ia the adjustable variable in need of narrowing, but the solution lies somewhere in 2030. IKT-Norge’s survey revealed that 57% of companies believe that the lack of relevant skills constitutes the single biggest hindrance to further growth.

Chasing our tails

Computer World suggested that we start thinking outside the box and snap up recent graduates that can be shaped to fit our organisational culture. They tell us to be patient and invest all the resources our bank account allows. “Ensure seamless onboarding of the guy and if after two years the project fails, it’s probably because of you”. Of course, this is hardly a way to acquire specialised talent. It fails to take into account the urgency of most projects; deadlines and clients rarely possess that sort of lenience.

Spotify and Matt Centre admirably embarked on a joint project to teach children to code in schools and as an extracurricular activity but as the initiative itself suggests- they are children and hence still half a generation behind in the race.

HRM Software’s president, Christian Myhrberg, bemoaned the insoluble shortage of developers in Sweden leading him to resort to outsourcing with several different partners. But it created problematic discord in his projects.

IoT and the Cloud: How they changed the game

With the IoT and the accelerating digitisation of services, the problem has intensified. The cloud has altered requirements all together by eliminating 15.000 IT jobs in Sweden while adding 11.500 that require new skills. The cloud has transformed the IT market entirely and a study by Oracle states that it is to double in size by 2019 to an estimated $141 billion. 18 million job roles exist in cloud computing worldwide and according to LinkedIn, cloud and distributed computing was the single hottest skill in 2015. Scandinavian companies are falling behind because no matter where we seem to look for answers to these trends, solutions are scarce.

So where do you track down your next developer? Let us start with the concession that engineers have a stronghold in certain geographical locations. This means that they don’t exist inside but outside Europe- end of story until 2025. As an example, frontend developers specialised in Javascript are particularly sought after worldwide with a nearshore destination like Ukraine boasting 4499 versus India’s 26396.

Beyond US borders, India has remained one of the auspicious destinations for cloud computing. Bangalore grabbed the top spot as a recruiter for cloud computing jobs inside India. Demands from companies like IBM and Amazon have prompted cloud computing courses to sprout across that city with a surge of 35%.

With 2 million users, the online learning platform Coursera showed us that Indians are second only to the US in wishing to engage in online learning with technology and English attracting the highest numbers. The courses which are taught by Stanford professors and Ivy League schools are equipping young Indians with the skills that are globally in short supply.

And why are these facts so key in our decision making process? Ultimately, the solution to the shortage of developers in Scandinavia is not to jump into the pool numerically containing the most but rather to choose a destination with a strong skill infrastructure and technological vision; the desire to keep abreast with the twists and turns of the industry and navigate what at times feels like the professional equivalent of the Amazonian rainforest.

What holds most of us back are the connotations and numerous stories of appalling outsourcing services where partners’ deliverables were nothing short of disastrous. Deadlines were bent, communication compromised and the product in pieces. But outsourcing is only half the story when venturing offshore. There are indeed alternatives to the old tale of disappointment. So in essence, the focal point of our IT debate in Scandinavia should shed the backyard digging and find a way around the outsourcing curse.

Cultural compatibility with a reliable offshore partner would ultimately solve this. Not only does it enable you to articulate your goals, strategies and concerns without being misunderstood but the culture permeates everything from time frames to recruitments. We need to find the ones that can be Skyped daily, the ones that eliminate the time difference issues, the ones that are as committed to your product as you are.

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